In my last entry, I talked about the unforgettable summer of 1970—and of course, much of that entry revolved around music. That's to be expected; music has been a vital part of my life, and I tend to measure my most memorable events by the music that I was enjoying at the time.
Before you dismiss the remainder of this post as the ramblings of a Luddite, let me mention that I have iPods. I have an iPod from every generation, in fact. I like iPods.
Now, back to the subject at hand.
Back in the 1960s, when I began buying albums (I made my first purchase in 1964--and it was, as you might have expected, Meet the Beatles), it was common for me to immerse myself in a new album. I played it over and over, learning the order of the songs, the transitions between tunes, the feel of each side of the album (usually, each side tended to convey a different mood, at least for me--and that determined which side became the A side as far as I was concerned). There was no shuffle, no random mixing; an album was a vital unit, and that's the way music was heard.
It didn't occur to me in those days that there were bad songs. I'd never dream of eliminating a song from an album; first off, it would be difficult to do so, since I'd have to get up, move the tone arm, and then reposition it for the next cut. But more importantly, it broke the organic flow of the album. Removing a song from an album would be like removing a note or a series of notes from an individual song because I didn't particularly like A-minor.
I hadn't realized just how important the flow of an album was until we recently acquired a 2006 Acura RL. It has a DVD-Audio player, so I transitioned much of my musical listening from my ever-present iPod to the DVD-Audio player. And then I rediscovered the allure of the album as opposed to the randomization of songs. Works were allowed to build on each other; moods were juxtaposed; I was once again hearing the unified work the way the artist envisioned it.
And as much as I enjoy my iPod, I realize that it's not the ultimate format for music. There's something to be said for the unified format of an album (even though they're not really albums at all any more), and I'm going to try giving more of my old favorites a new listen in an old-fashioned way.
Pardon me while I once again pull out a copy of Abbey Road and re-experience the Beatles' finale the way it was meant to be heard...