Don’t Scratch the Record Man! I Love that Album.

Now the sun goes down over Dolly Parton bridge
The one time home of soul takes our country’s final breath

I guess it takes
More than a king
More than a song
For such a fight
Graceland is a ghost town tonight

I guess it’s been a long decline
God bless the souls that shook up mine

(The Milk Carton Kids)

binkleyPal. What a post that was. I love that you struggled with this album for so long. It shows that that collection of songs meant something. That albums can be bigger than the person who wrote them. Records are made and then just float in the ether. Soon they become something other than what was intended. They change from being projections of the artist to projections of the listener. Albums are vulnerable to the musing of those that receive them.

This leads me to my post. I have a concern. A worry if you will. This is when I put my old man hat on and talk about how things just aren’t what they used to be. Maybe I am out of touch, but maybe I am right on the money.

Here goes…

Hey Pal, remember when you used to go to the record store to shop for albums? I remember how exciting that was. You had just heard that new song on the radio, or maybe your favorite band just released their new record, or maybe you just wanted to root through the bins of albums to find a cool cover and hear what that was all about. Going to the record store was so much fun.

I worry that, in this digital age of music downloads and streaming, we are going to lose that deep connection to the album. That in the near future, music will be more about presenting a constant atmosphere and not about having an experience. Maybe this is not a new concern. Fear of change has been here as long as music has.


“You hear Beethoven’s new Symphony Number Five? That guy totally sold out. What’s with those DA DA DA DAAAs? That’s some bullshit right there, I tell ya.”

Nevertheless…..It’s a slippery slope to being mindless music robots

Slippery Slope #1…

I worry that the artist will be lost in this new world of music streaming.

Instead of putting on the latest Fleet Foxes album at a party, people will go to whatever music streaming app and select “Casual Party with Friends” and then press play. I have been to those parties. I usually love what I hear.

“Oh, that’s a great song. I love Fleet Foxes.”


“Fleet Foxes. That’s the band you’re playing right now.”

“Oh, I don’t know. This is Pandora.”

hipster party

Someone else has done all the work. There is no effort on the part of the listener. Don’t get me wrong. These mixes are a convenient way to listen to great music. They are way better than listening to terrestrial radio, but, no one knows what they are listening to anymore. Doesn’t this put too much control in the hands of other people to determine what good music is? Doesn’t it de-personalize the music?

Slippery Slope #2…

I use ITunes to buy my albums. I always listen to that 90 second song sample ITunes offers to determine if I like it first. It is not like the record store listening booths were back in the old days.  I would go with my pile of CDs and sample music for over an hour most times.  Now I can only listen to 90 seconds of a song. Recently, I heard Noel Gallager suggest that artists are actually manufacturing songs specifically for that 90 seconds. I don’t know if that is true now, but I fear that’s coming.

In some ways we are going back to the way it used to be. In the early 1900s musicians released singles only.  With digital media, the focus is not only back to the single, it’s using that 90 second sample to cherry pick the songs you might like. That is bad for the survival of the album. Have we hit a new low if we are only paying attention to a fraction of a song? Isn’t this a regression?


Slippery Slope #3…

Artists know that we are losing touch with the idea of an album. I was listening to Merrill Garbus of the Tune Yards talk about music and she asked knowingly, “No one buys complete albums anymore, do they?” It was almost a statement of don’t bother to make a complete album. Nobody cares. To hear that from one of the most experimental artists in Rock music today broke my heart.

Not making albums leaves little room for experimentation and growth. I really hope that the artists don’t get complacent. They should be driving the direction of the music. Our interest, and surprise, in what they produce should inspire them to be even more creative. Without that, the concept of making an album won’t last.


I must find something redeeming…

Okay, I am going to take my old man hat off now and end this post with some optimism. It isn’t the way it used to be in some ways, but it is like it always was in so many others. People need music. They demand it. Creativity in albums will never leave, as long as our butts and brains keep finding new ways of rockin.

To quote De La Soul…

If the Soul keeps rockin, the streets will keep rockin
If the streets keep rockin, the Soul will keep rockin
If the streets stop rockin, the Soul will keep rockin
If the Soul keeps rockin, the streets will keep rockin


Later Pal.




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