Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Long before there were CDs and MP3 players there were record players and vinyl records.  A person had a machine, that had an arm with a needle on the end, that when placed in the groove of a long playing record magically played music.  The record sat on a turntable that spun at 33 revolutions per minute (RPMs) or at 45 RPM for smaller records that played just a single song. 

This in itself was a miracle; but low and behold someone came up with an idea to make this record player “automatic” and you could stack up to six records on a spindle and they would drop down one after another and play.  There was a bar that held the stack of records on the spindle and if you put just one record on the turntable and left the bar up, it would play the same record over and over again until you stopped it.

Whenever I would purchase a new record album I often would set the machine in this mode so that I could listen to my newly acquired treasure over and over until I knew it by heart.  I would often read while I listened; multi-tasking at its best.  This produced an interesting phenomenon.  The music would be so engrained on my brain that I associate the music with what I was reading at the time.  As I have gotten older there aren’t too many of these subliminal connections left, as my mind has been filled with so many other things.  One does remain quite strong though.

I discovered the Lord Of The Rings trilogy after being assigned to read the Hobbit in school.  I became so enthralled with Middle Earth that I devoured the books one after another, enjoying every one of the thousands of pages.  It was about this time that Simon & Garfunkel released their masterpiece album, “Sound of Silence.”  I carefully put the record on my machine.  I started it playing in “repeat mode,” and got back to reading about Frodo and his ring.  I was so caught up in the story that I was almost oblivious to the music as it played over and over, but my brain heard it just fine.  I read for hours as the brilliant S&G album poured from my speakers.

Today, anytime I hear a song from that album on my MP3 player at home or in my car or even as background music at a local store or restaurant; like “Pavlof’s Dog” I am transported to Middle Earth and memories of the Fellowship and Tolkien’s fantasy come flooding back.  Over the years, when I have re-read the books, I always try to listen to that music also to keep the connection going.  It enhances the activity and also reminds me of a simpler time, before technology exploded into our lives, when reading was a major part of my day, and music was played through a needle.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

In The Spirit Of What Is Fair

I find it interesting that the music companies are claiming that today’s digital technology is creating an unfair marketplace, (with all this file sharing and such.)

I think back on the music market for the last 50 years and find that there is a glaring unfairness that no one seems to acknowledge.

Let’s take a successful artist, like say THE BEATLES for example.   In the 60s when the Beatles exploded onto the scene they would release a “single” and sell it for $1.00.  I would purchase that 45 rpm record and within a month an album would be released.  This album would contain the same song that I bought for a dollar but I would buy it anyway, for the other songs I didn’t have that were on it.  I would pay $5.00 for the album.  Depending on how many singles were released I would end up paying  $5-$10 for the 10-12 tracks I then owned.

New technology created new products for me to spend my money on.  4 track lasted a very short time (thank God) but I did own some.  8 track, however, was a giant leap forward.  It was now possible to take your music in the car with you.  How GREAT was that?  For the sake of simplicity, let’s say I originally purchased 10 Beatle albums ( It was a lot more than that) on vinyl records.  With single 45s, let’s say they cost me approx. $80.  I NEED to take my records in the car with me so I buy 10 corresponding 8 track cartridges for $8 a piece so now I have spent $160 for the same 10 albums.

The advent of cassettes makes another giant contribution to musical enjoyment.  I can now WALK AROUND with my music.  The “walkman” is a miracle machine.  I now purchase my 10 Beatle albums on cassette which have a retail cost of $10-$12.  I have now spent $260 for the same 10 albums.

Low and behold technology presents us with CDs.  Oh My God.  A miracle indeed!  Virtually indestructible, pretty jewel cases and slick art work, a “Fan’s” dream.  You can take ‘em in the car; you can walk around with ‘em, fantastic!  I purchase my Beatle albums on CD at a retail price that has now blossomed to $15-$20.  So now I have a paid almost $500 or $50 each for 10 record albums and I don’t have anything more than I had when I bought the first vinyl record for 1/10th that. 

Now with the digital age they want to again charge me $10 MORE for that same Beatle album, so I can have it on my iPod.  This music comes without the pretty jewel case or the slick artwork.  There is absolutely no cost to the producer of this music.  It exists, it is sold; it still exists to be sold again and again.  It is true that I can “Rip” my CD to digital MP3 for free, but you would be surprised at how many people out there are not “tech savvy” enough to do that.  (These are the folks that do not even know what a MP3 is)  Even if I do know how I have still paid all that money for the same music.  The record companies, the artist and everyone else who has a stake in the process have all dipped their beaks in my cash pond and have some very big bank accounts to show for it.  And this is for just TEN Beatle albums.  Multiply that by all the artists I enjoy and all of the albums they have released in the last 50 years.  It’s staggering.

Now I do not begrudge the artist their compensation for the musical enjoyment they provide me.  I do not even mind that the company that had the good sense to sign great artists up and promote their musical genius get a piece of the pie, but please, don’t talk about fair.  If I had the money I have spent on buying the same music over and over again, I could afford a to add to my DVD movie collection….OH wait….no………. don’t get me started on the whole Beta/VHS/Laser Disc/DVD/Blu Ray thing.