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This morning at The Huffington Post, Peter Dreier describes how his daughter Amelia has discovered his old vinyl record collection. Last night at the movie Transcendence, the future tech scientists played their music on ancient tech vinyl – it made the couple seem hip in their uber-geekness. All over the world, young people are rediscovering record players and LPs. I have to wonder though, are they embracing the quaint technology, or the old music?
When I was young and discovered 1930s big band music in the 1970s, it wasn’t by playing old 78s. All the old music Peter Dreier’s daughter discovered is available on Rdio, Pandora or iTunes. Why did it take finding dad’s old LPs to get his twins interested?
Year before last, I got back into vinyl LPs again because of nostalgia, but I’m giving them up again. I love holding records and their covers, but I hate playing them. Yes, their sound is retro-warm, but it’s like going back to VHS video. I just got sick of the skips, pops and skates. Even though I still call our refrigerator the ice box, I wouldn’t want one that actually required blocks of ice. I’m an old fart, but I love convenient technology.
Can’t young people discover old songs without rediscovering old LP albums? Or have they discovered they love holding music after growing up with invisible files? They should rediscover CDs. They sound better, are easier to play, and you can hold them too. Will young people go and buy all those old albums at $25 a pop as FLAC files for the Pono when it comes out? They are used to free music on the internet, and free LPs from their parent’s attics.
I’m actually ditching my LPs again so I can discover new music. The time I spent shopping for records and monkeying with getting them to play is better spent on actually listening to music. Rdio and Spotify give me access to millions of albums – I just need to find clues for what to try. I do this through reading.
Whenever I read a story or article and someone mentions loving a particular song or album, I go play it. Rdio makes it that easy! I just read The Mayor of MacDougal Street by Dave Van Ronk which inspired me play many forgotten late 1950s early 1960s Greenwich Village folk artists, and make a new playlist. I watched 20 Feet From Stardom and played the solo albums by these great backup singers. I read The Wrecking Crew by Kent Hartman about 1960s studio musicians and played many Phil Spector Wall of Sound hits. And I’m trying all the 1940s and 1950s jazz greats because of reading Jack Kerouac. If I had waited to find all these artists in old record bins I might not never have discover them.
Discovering great music takes study.
I think it’s great that kids are discovering records and record players. I think it’s great that they are discovering our generation’s music. Vinyl collecting makes a nice hobby. But don’t let be your only path to old music. Would Peter Dreier’s girls have tried old music if their dad hadn’t spent so much time talking about the concerts he went to as a kid?
Talk to your parents and grandparents. Go through their music. If you discover you love the Beatles, read books about the Beatles and the songs and bands they grew up loving. Ditto for any other artist you find you love. It’s been long enough for these bands to have become history.
I’m exploring classical music on Rdio through listening to “How to Listen to Great Music” by Professor Robert Greenberg for 1 credit at Audible.com. I also bought a paperback book he wrote on the same subject from Amazon. (If you want the video from The Great Courses, wait until it’s on sale.) I also bought 1001 Classical Recordings You Music Hear Before You Die on a remaindered shelf. Keep an eye at Barnes & Noble’s remaindered books, music history books are very common.
When you play old albums, look at the inner sleeves. They often have ads for other albums on them. Call them up on Rdio or Spotify. Go to audiophile sites like HDtracks or audiophile USA to see what’s being reprinted and look them up on streaming services, or even try to find the original albums used. If you really get into vinyl, the real fun starts when you hear about a rare album that you’ve just got to hear, and tracking it down becomes a quest.
A lot of kids are discovering The Beatles, but I’ve yet to hear any of them talk about The Byrds, or Buffalo Springfield. Just study this chart and try to track down all the albums on the Californian Country Rock chart that shows a musicians family tree showing the children groups formed from the breakup of the bands The Bryds and Buffalo Springfield. Most of these albums are available on Rdio and Spotify. Click for larger image.
If you end up loving 1960s and 1970s rock music you discovered through your parent’s old albums, a cool way to time travel to the past is subscribe to The Rolling Stone, and then sign up to use their free archives to reread old issues and their album reviews.
There are many record collecting and music review magazines in print and on the net. Once you get out of the trap of only listening to current hits, and start time traveling through the past, discovering new old music becomes an addiction.
Just for fun, here’s an old favorite of mine that you might not have found in grandpop’s old records.
JWH – 4/21/14