Friday, October 7, 2011
How We Listen to Music. . .
Long before iPods. . .there were transistor radios--the iPods of my youth. It took music away from big stationary boxes in your house and made music, news, and sports portable. . .and growing up we would carry them everywhere--this is how we listened to much of our music. . .tinny-sounding and, of course, in mono. . .this is where we probably heard a new Beach Boys song. . .a Four Seasons song. . .a Beatles song. . .in glorious mono. . .maybe walking down the street (because we walked everywhere). . .or sitting under a tree listening to Jimmy Dudley and Bob Neal broadcast a Cleveland Indians baseball game. .singing the praises of Tito Francona, Max Alvis, and Woody Held.
In Cleveland, you listened to AM radio--you listened to the "WHK Good Guys." Guys like Joe Mayer and Bob Friend. You listened to upstart "WIXY 1260"--their 1967 line-up was the strongest--guys like Mike Reineri, Larry Morrow, Lou Kirby, and Dick "Wild Childe" Kemp.
This was our soundtrack in Cleveland.
And then came the real birth of this strange thing called FM radio. . .not really a birth--it had been around in Cleveland since at least the mid-'40's--but, it was music for adults, not us kids--it was opera music, adult standards. . .until the day sometime in 1968 when the FCC mandated FM stations could no longer mirror the programming of their AM counterparts. . .and thus our listening habits became broadened. . .Deanna R. Adams really does a bang-up job in her book Rock 'n' Roll and the Cleveland Connection of going into great detail about all of these changes in Cleveland. More to the point. . .this mutation of music from AM to FM got people taking about music even more--as if all of the glory days of music from 1964 to 1968 wasn't enough. . .there was now "underground radio." You got the looooooooooong versions of songs instead of the AM edits. . .You got to hear album cuts--and the whole world really changed--this was no longer the world of singles. . .you got to hear the first Spirit album--you got to hear Mechanical World--time listing. . ."very long.". . .Fresh Garbage (as a side note, when Spirit toured in 1968, the opening band was Led Zepplin. . .
You got to hear the long version of Time has Come Today by The Chambers Brothers. . .
But, mostly I remember being tied back to the house again--tied to the radio in the house--and now you really wanted to listen to things more as an audiophile. . .you gathered people around to listen to music--
We can go through the Sony walkman period, the iPod and all of that. . .but, what I really want to get to was this. . .
Spotify. . .
Spotify may be doing some things that other music-sharing sites are doing. . .but, the point I'm really attempting to get through is this: for all people that say there is no new music out there to listen to (specifically, that would be a lot of people in my generation), I would say to you that there is plenty--and surprises abound if you just take the time to seek them out. . .I learn about new artists all the time on Spotify--will it lead me to actually buy the physical product? Maybe. I've never spent a dime on iTunes yet. But, if I hear something, I'll buy the CD. Some people still want that tactile experience--I think there is more to the revival of vinyl than just the warmth of the sound. It is packaging--I think it goes to the fact you are getting something of value. Artists have to market music differently today--I think the ones who offer the most value--even if they only have smaller cult followings, will still survive--and they'll be doing something they really want to do--make music, have "day jobs" that start at 10 PM in small clubs, and get to drink for free! Is this a great country or what!
If you haven't tried Spotify, I urge you to try it out. . .this week I listened to the entire new Willie Nile CD which comes out later this month. . .I discovered an artist by the name of Ben Howard. . .listened to the new Feist album. . .and saw that LeAnn Rimes had covered 16 Tons. . .who knew?
Life is good. . .share some music with a friend today.