I’ll stick with the old

Saturdays, for me, are always enjoyable – whether I’m out and about or staying in and relaxing. Last Saturday was a day of mixed fortunes weather-wise, charity shopping, book shopping and drinking milkshakes with my best friend. Call me ostentatious but the day consisted of not one but two outfits – not through vanity but due to rain. How glamorous. To cut a long story short, during the first of the day’s errands I was caught out in the bucketing rain and howling wind (ok, it wasn’t quite that Wuthering Heights but hey I’m trying to make this more interesting!) with only a shower-proof jacket for protection over my outfit.

I had gone for a look I’ve now labelled “French Utility” (i.e. khaki chinos, grey converse, black eighties blouse with huge gold buttons and all topped off with my black beret). Sadly my chinos and converse were soaked on my return and I didn’t fancy wearing my beret again considering it nearly blew off my head whilst walking home! It was one of those situations where you need to change in a hurry into a ‘fail-safe’ outfit that you already know will ‘work’. Thus I wore exactly the same thing I wore last Sunday (don’t worry – I won’t describe it for you again here) as I was anticipating another imminent rain fall.

Luckily my second outfit of the day survived the weather due to the foresight of my friend to bring an umbrella with us as we wandered around the shops (or rather as I dragged her round the charity shops!). The day was fruitful in that we found some old lps and eps going for £1 each in Cancer Research and I bought two – one because it is a fantastic song (‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ by the 80s girl power band ‘The Bangles’) and one because the cover artwork was fantastic (and it has some really iconic tunes on there such as ‘California Dreamin” by ‘The Mamas and The Papas’). I love vinyl records – even buying them 30 or 40 years after they were first released is exciting and gives me a completely different thrill to the one I get when buying a cd (that is, very little thrill as I’m usually stood in a queue in HMV).

I have heard it described by people of the lp generations that buying a record was something truly exciting – something you saved up your pocket-money for (if you were lucky enough to get it that is, birthday and Christmas money if not) for weeks and weeks for and had to choose so carefully as it would be constantly replayed until you had the money to buy another. Back in those days I think people appreciated music more – not in the sense of enjoyment, far from it, but in the sense of appreciating their access to it. Nowadays all you have to do to hear your favourite song is listen to it on YouTube or Spotify, and if you want to buy a copy it’ll cost you 89p on iTunes, which for most people is an insignificant amount of money.

Music is so accessible to us as a society that we don’t treasure it as we once did – like fashion we have become a ‘throwaway society’ in the sense of music too – and I know many people who update their iPods according to the weekly charts and then never listen to the songs again once they are no longer in the media limelight. This is why I don’t tend to download music – if I like an artist or a band enough I will buy a physical copy of their album to enjoy. Over time this has built up into a small cd collection for me, and though I obviously don’t listen to all of it all of the time I do go in and out of phases of listening to different music. For example, I somehow always seem to listen two my Regina Spektor albums around Christmastime (no idea why!) and my Miike Snow album when I’m stressed. My old stuff (ranging from Ella Fitzgerald to Joni Mitchell) tends to come out of the woodwork in holiday time as it is more chilled out than some of my music.

I think the issue I’m trying to raise is whether music, like high street fashion, is becoming something we feel we need to keep up with, and that by racing through every song in the charts we feel that we have accomplished some great feat. Because of this constantly changing barrage of songs, people are led to believe that music is an easy career option, and that so long as you have auto-tune and look the part you can have all the fame and the glory without the raw talent. I often hear songs on the radio now and my first thought is “If you’d have given me the right software + auto-tune I could have made this record”. How depressing is that? The idea that music is drifting from being an art form to something that ‘anyone’ can do well? I’m not going to name any names, as everyone is different and has a different taste in music, but I just wanted to put the idea out there that nowadays it seems to have flipped from being “quality over quantity” to “quantity over quality”.

Adding a vintage effect with the black and white

5 thoughts on “I’ll stick with the old

  1. I think that records feel special partly because of the ritual involved. Sliding the record out of its case, positioning it right on the record player, and dropping the needle, then that anticipatory moment of crackling before the music starts… you just don’t get that with a CD or an mp3. Little rituals like that are disappearing, and we don’t realise how much we enjoy them until they’re gone. Like making a cup of tea, my friend has got one of those boiling water dispenser things where you just hold your cup underneath and press a button and there’s your hot water, instantly. I hate it. I want to boil the kettle and wait for it!

  2. I see what you mean about the throwaway-ness of music. Personally, I don’t spend much money on music… I listen over and over on Spotify and then if I’ve not spent my entire allowance on books I’ll maybe buy a single. My brother has a record player, and if he doesn’t take it to university with him, I’ll be taking it into my room! I think that the whole idea of playing a record is amazing, and although buying the player in the first place can be costly, so is an iPod! And you can get records for not very much. I guess it’s a case of balancing the two, downloads & records, like with online articles & real papers, magazines & blogs, and the old & new in general.

  3. Great post Alexandra. I’m afraid I do agree with you – music, like so many other industries, has been altered dramatically, and is tailored for a ‘want it now’ market. You liked the song you heard on the radio? That’s fine – you can download it from iTunes straight away. Or rip it illegally from somewhere, thus depriving the artist from the royalties they deserve.
    I went through a phase when I was a slightly younger, where I listened to a lot of manufactored pop, usually stuff I had heard in the charts. I have since deleted all this music from my iPod (like trends the songs date stupidly quickly), and replaced it with a mixture of old bands and relatively un-known new ones. Although I do buy quite a bit of music from iTunes (not living near anywhere that sells CDs), it often takes me a while to decide whether or not to buy an album – I listen to the snippets of songs, and enjoy deliberating whether it is worth spending precious money on. In that way, I hope that I am still retaining some of the ritualisation associated with purchasing music.
    I also love to fbuy vinyl records. Like you, I can happily spend plenty of time looking through the records box in the local charity shop, in the hope of finding something worth taking home. In fact, one of my best birthday presents came from a best friend who spent some time searching for records of bands and singers I really love – such as Kate Bush and David Bowie. These have now joined a small collection including Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake and The Doors. The album cover art is wonderful – and adds another very tangible element to the whole experience of putting on a record. The only downside is when they are scratched.
    I agree with the commenter above, in that it is a question of balance – digital and analogue alongside each other. However, it does sadden me that we don’t seem to appreciate true talent as much, and take things such as music for granted. It strikes me that thhe rise of the internet has led to a culture in which people believe it is their right to have music whenever and wherever they want, and possibly for free. That’s no way to treat the artists who have spent months (or even years) crafting an album.

  4. I am so behind with music my MP3 ( a gift) is still in the box and I have never downloaded a track from the internet. Last album I bought was Fleetwood Mac greatest hits, on an actual CD!

  5. this is such an interesting post. i can’t remember the last CD i bought, but Sony sent me a copy of Oh Land’s album, which i’d really recommend 🙂 xx

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