Friday, May 31, 2013

Vinyl to CDs to Clouds

Not very many people buy CDs anymore.

Mostly because they’re nearly impossible to unwrap.
If you're lucky and can get through the initial plastic in just a few hours, you then have to contend with that surprisingly difficult little sticky label thing on the top edge. That alone can take you another day or so to master.

I used to hire a 6 year old to unwrap mine…but then he wanted me to make him lunch, so that was the end of that.

Now I just download the music onto my computer and then onto my iPod.

I’m not sure where it actually comes from, this ethereal music—possibly another 6 year old— but I know once I get it, Amazon says they’ll also send it up to the clouds for me.

Which is nice of them…I guess.

I’m not sure how that effects the environment, though.  I mean, does all my music really belong up in the clouds?

Even my Leo Sayer collection?


It was the late 70’s…not a lot of choices.

They say if my music is in the clouds then I don’t even have to actually install it onto my computer, or other “devices”.

Which is good, because I wouldn’t have the first idea about how to download music onto my weed whacker.

But I admit it would be a nice addition.

Actually, I know the cloud of which they speak is really just a metaphor. Probably for some place out in the desert manned by thousands of 6 year olds who sit around playing video games all day, waiting for your signal, and then send the music to whatever “device” you desire.

I don’t know…I kind of miss having an actual, physical representation of my music collection handy.

You know, something tangible you can show off to your friends.

It was bad enough when CDs replaced vinyl as the medium of choice. What once filled an impressive wall of bookshelves was reduced to barely filling a single, measly cabinet.

Nowadays, how exciting is it to unveil a silly little list on your phone as you gaze up into the clouds and hope that the 6 year olds are paying attention?

I still have all my albums from the 60s and 70s, safely tucked away in a remote corner of my basement, still in the original milk crate storage system I devised during my college shuttle days.

Think of all the snap, crackle and pops, just waiting there to be re-animated.

Of course, I long ago surrendered my turntable to the Smithsonian, so I really have no idea what they actually sound like now, but back then, I could tell you exactly where every hiss and click was on what part of each song.

And when the music sounded like it was originating from under a pillow, all you had to do was remove a hunk of fuzz the size of a golf ball from the needle.

But don’t run your finger over the needle.  None of us ever did that, right?  You know, just to see if your fingerprints had any kind of special message embedded in them…because believe me, you don’t want to know what that message is.

I have a vivid memory of buying my first album.  It was “Meet the Beatles”, which I bought for $2.49 at Woolworth's in 1964.  And of course I still have it, somewhere, in the basement, in a milk crate.

I also have it on CD and…yep…up there in that cloud somewhere.

Go figure.

I mean, iPods do make it easier to take your whole collection to the beach…without a small van.

Plus, I suppose some would say it doesn’t matter how it gets into your ears; that it’s just about the music.

And I guess that’s true, for the most part. 

But...if that is true...then why have we held onto all those old record albums?

For the liner notes?

No…they just remind us of a simpler time, with simpler choices to make in just about everything we did. 

Nowadays, my music originates from some cloudy mist, and I still haven’t found the grooves on my CDs, let alone the needle that plays them.

Can you imagine the size of the dustball that’s been growing in my CD player…since the  80’s?


  1. Good one! Back in the good old days, I was a huge collector of those 78s - recordings of the Big Band era. You could go into a record store, reserve a booth, and bring in one or two records for listening and maybe buying. I saved my lunch money and bus transportation money so as to buy those wonderful recordings by Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, the Dorsey brothers, Glenn Miller, and others. When I went to Germany for my first "real" job, my brother took over my collection, and ruined all those wonderful records, thanks to all his parties. Wouldn't those records be valuable now? I think Michael Feinstein would hosey them, but I'd never part with them.

    1. I like how you’re always able to connect with my memories and take them even deeper into the past. I remember those odd looking 78s my parents had tucked in among the other more “modern” Mario Lanza’s. Even remember when 78 was still a speed on the “Hi-Fi”. Yet somehow I also picture you bobbing down the street with Angel, iPod plugged firmly into your ears, getting jiggy with the latest” Pink”. If anyone knows how to live in the moment it’s you!

  2. I am not cool enough for an iPod. Even the cell phone challenges my coolness. Hey, I had some old Edison records from my grandparents. They were about 1/4" thick, and you could hear Rock of Ages and something by Verdi, as well as songs by Caruso. They were played on a tall Victrola that you had to wind up. Do you know of Diana Krall, singer and jazz pianist? She was on PBS TV with Paul McCartny recently - the album produced from that is "Kisses on the Bottom." The words are from a WWll song: I'm Gonna Write Myself a Letter.


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