Listen Up!

In my nearly 47 years, trends in music devices have obviously changed and I’ve my listening habits have changed right along with them…for the most part.

I’d like to think my parents bought me a Close-and-Play when I was a kid, but somehow I don’t think they did. The era of the LP was a challenge to see how many albums I could stack one on top of the other. I didn’t care if I only listened to one side. I was a lazy kid and flipping the album every 20 minutes or so just seemed like too much work. Fast forward 15–20 years and you’ll note my love of carousel CD players.

In the old days, I had those massive speakers that no amount of wall hardware could hold. From their positions on either side of my bedroom, the vibrations those speakers produced in the green shag carpet (shudder), especially from my beloved OMEN, practically communicated with hell.

For my 45’s I preferred those little yellow plastic inserts rather than the cigarette lighter-shaped piece that fits on the turntable pole. Why? Again, laziness prevailed as it was easier to stack my copies of “Eres Tu,” “Seasons in the Sun,” and “Half Breed.”

I never participated in the 8-track craze. Though you’d think it would have appealed to the sloth in me, that clicking sound as it changed channels in the middle of a song drove me nuts.

By the time cassettes were commonplace, I was driving and they made the ideal auto accessory. I seldom bought pre-recorded cassettes, preferring instead to create hours and hours of mixed tape heaven. If I’d had my way, I would have had the person who invented the mechanism that automatically changed cassette sides canonized.

When I was living in Boston in the early ’90s, my car got broken into. CD players were not yet standard accessories, at least not in my car. Even in the waning days of cassettes, the only thing that the thief took was the cassette player out of my dashboard. Oddly enough, they left all the cassettes. I’m sure they took one look at the soundtracks and cast albums and fled screaming into the night.

I’m divided in my opinion of digital music. Not surprisingly, I’m definitely of the old school, preferring to have the tactile sensation of a CD as opposed to an mp3. And yet living in New York City, my iPod goes with me everywhere. I’ve heard more music, and heard more nuances in the music, since the invention of this marvelous device. Plus my innate laziness loves the fact that I can put 80gb of music on my iPod or 3,000 albums on an external hard drive and pull one up anytime I want. I’m not an audio nut so I usually can’t tell the difference between lossless and a lower bitrate, unless it’s drastically lower.

Ultimately, digital music feels disposable, hence my dislike of the download-only trend. I don’t think it’s fair to the composer or the artists, much less the consumer who might like a choice, though I certainly understand it from a business standpoint.

All of this waffling back and forth is making my head ache. I think I’ll go turn out the lights, put on the headphones, block out all life and thought, and find something soothing to listen to. Though unlike the woman above, I don’t think I’ve ever resorted to wearing my headphones on my breasts. Honey, even in my drunkest moments, I still knew that no matter how, um, titillating the vibrations may feel, listening to music through my chest would make even 128 kpbs sound good.

How do you prefer to listen to your music?

  1. Couldn’t live without my iPod. Or my 1117 (and counting) stage and screen-related CDs, currently on ice in a storage facility near home.

    I grew up with long play and the 45 (cassettes and 8-tracks, too), and I’m endeared to those modalities, but I’m equally endeared to technological advances that put all of that glorious music in one, simple place. And the bottom line is that I have it. Unless it’s mastered like mud or through cheesecloth, bits and bytes and snips and snurs won’t matter when I’m dead.

    1. “Bits and bytes and snips and snurs won’t matter when I’m dead.” Well put, Steve. :)

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