Wednesday, February 6, 2008

MUSIC IS DEAD?


Don’t go mad just yet. Music isn’t dead, but my relationship with music is at a troubling time.
It’s hard to explain this in text format but do you remember when you got your first CD/Tape/Record or maybe that CD/Tape/Record that sparked something within you? Everyone's first record isn’t always the most glamorous item. Mine was a prodigy tape but that’s beside the point. Its that first purchase of a record that excites you and the magic with the 300th listen, the reading of the sleeve notes, the discovery of the artwork and the understanding of the lyrics. This experience has been lost for me and makes me pose the above statement. That inexplicable ‘magic’ that comes with enjoying a new album in its entire and artistically complete form seems to be gone and in a sense, Music as I once knew it is dead. Bear with me as I try to explain…

Don’t get me wrong, my life is all about listening to music and the spark and magic of music is not altogether gone but the music environment has permanently changed. To an extent, this is the fault of the iPod. I bought my first iPod four years ago. It was the first of its kind and was a natural progression from the Mini-Disk. This thing was unreal, "you can store every CD you own on this small white yoke? Fuck me, this is great!"
With a sense of naïve excitement, I had no indication that I would feel so differently just four years later The bond between an album and its owner in my eyes is now gone. The time when one CD would reside in your CD player for weeks or months at a time, replaying until you had absorbed its lyrics completely is unfortunately dead. For example, one such album which fascinated me relentlessly was Coldplay's “Parachutes”. Every time I hear that opening cord a chill goes down my spine and that’s the same for many albums i have an affinity with such as Ryan Adams "Gold" and The Who’s "Who's Next". All these albums I a have spent time with, savoured, and have for that honeymoon stage became interweaved in the fabric of my life. As is the nature of music, these albums came to be identified with certain periods in my life, and the memories and the lyrics can at times become interchangeable. But now music is just tossed around like another facet of our ‘convenience’-centred lifestyles, and unlike the devotion (or indeed, rejection) that would accompany each new purchase, our one-click – download culture leaves us asking, "who’s this band again?". Music has become too dispensable.
Radiohead’s new album "In Rainbows"(before its physical release) has sparked such controversy. What a superb record. But again, it doesn’t get the full recognition from me due to its (initially) free digital release. No proper cover art, no sleeve notes, no physical item, a button on my iPod that will direct me to 9,000 more songs. The bond has broken. But then again is all this just me and is anyone else feeling this dissatisfied with music becoming another faceless digital commodity? It’s hard to embrace an album (or mP3 File should I say) in its entirety these days. Don’t get me wrong, I am discovering new bands and artists every day whether it be old albums or new, but somehow the essence of these discoveries is becoming increasingly lost. Sorry for loading this on you but it needed it to be said. Perhaps its back to vinyl?


"Hey Hey My My, Rock & Roll Will Never die"
Neil Young

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