I watched When Albums Ruled the World on the BBC last night and it was one of those documentaries that has stayed with me into the next day. It charts the rise of the album from the single and talks about some of the music that was made possible only by the LP. One of the ideas that stood out for me was that LP collections were like the working man’s art collection. It said so much about you.
I came of age around 1980 and, although I did have a few LPs on vinyl, I was much more of the cassette tape generation. I’ve had headphones on pretty much since the early 80s and I was pondering that just recently as I listened to music on my iPhone whilst out with the dogs. I had on my sound-isolation headphones and I felt like I had arrived; things can stop progressing now, because it just doesn’t get any better. No more tape hiss, no more tape jams!
Then came CDs and I bought them and bought them and bought them. I now have hundreds and hundreds of them in the attic, all ripped into a lossless format and filed away as needless physical media. Nobody can come to my house now and see who I am through my music collection unless they sit down at my computer, and that’s pretty unlikely. I pretty much exclusively buy music now on iTunes or the Amazon mp3 store, or I listen on Spotify. That change has come only in the last few years, since iTunes did away with DRM. And now we have iTunes Match, which I absolutely love!
As I watched the documentary, I found myself thinking of my two children and I was filled with such hope for the future. And that is what music has always given me: hope. I don’t know why; I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s the idea that my kids can do anything they choose to do. If they can find something they love and always get to do that, they can be much happier than I. They can consume, but they also need not fear creating. Maybe that’s it.
So I had the idea of sitting my kids down and listening to albums with them, but as I walked the dogs this morning I realised that that just wouldn’t work. I have to let them find their own music, which undoubtedly they will, just as I did, and what I listen to will perhaps influence their tastes a little, but they won’t realise it until they’re much older. What I should do is make sure I play more music in the house that I currently do. I spend so much time listening to podcasts and audiobooks that music seems to take a back seat. I’d like to change that. I’ll stick to shows with Merlin in them, because they’re so helpful, and ditch the rest. Yeah, that makes sense.