This week I’ve had to take a mental health break and employ my “music is medicine” mantra.
At the same time, taking a break from job applications and money-scheming has caused me to reflect and marvel at the distance my same-age peers (the Oregon Trail generation) and I have traveled in regard to
because the distance has been mental.
But it’s the distance we have traveled in regard to music access I’m most stunned by today.
My generation’s initial way to access all music was through a record player.
And we were alive when older record players which many houses still had were still sort of considered furniture.
My parents had countless records and my dad stole his older sister’s records so it was all Tommy Edwards
and Johnny Mathis
and Nat King Cole.
My house would also be filled with these singers’ voices due to our 1970s household stereo system which had big speakers which looked like furry looking rectangular boxes that were nailed to the walls, close to the ceiling, throughout our house.
It was heavenly.
Meanwhile, I had a Fisher Price plastic record player.
I don’t think I ever saw a bunch of the Disney cartoons because my records usually came with a picture book which had also held the vinyl.
So I’d follow along with the record and picture book and imagine the movie, animating the images with my child mind.
And, since I didn’t have any siblings to tell me I was stupid and wrong, I maintained my insane child notions and still may think Snow White the animated cartoon has scenes it most certainly does not.
I also remember getting the Ghostbusters 2 theme song on mini vinyl.
I don’t think I’ll ever be happier or feel more relevant than I did with that mini vinyl of the theme song of Ghostbusters 2.
And then there were cassette tapes. Vinyl had been around forever so it was fine for a new way to listen to music to come around.
It was time. The future was now and it was also more portable.
I had a pink cassette holder which was pink and which had my name embroidered on its cover.
I was six or seven years old at the time so this cassette carrier was, despite how it sounds and looks, extremely cool.
So I’d put twenty tapes in my monogrammed carrier, and leave the other five thousand tapes scattered all over my bedroom floor.
And I had a bright yellow “Walkman” that was my most prized material possession.
And, since my friends and I had boom boxes and cassette players, we’d make mix tapes which we’d give to friends and other people we liked
We would also use boomboxes to record songs off the radio.
Recording a song off the radio of course meant having a blank tape inserted already and always having the radio on in case The Song was played and then, when it was, you had to press RECORD and PLAY simultaneously…
I still remember capturing Radiohead’s “Creep” off the radio and so my recording of that song always had the local radio station’s DJ’s voice introducing the song
until I bought the album on iTunes years later.
To this day, if I hear the song “Creep”, my mind introduces it as the DJ did thirty years ago.
Compact Discs (CDs) eventually came on the scene but we already had all our music on vinyl and tapes… why would we want to start all over with the newest stupid fad?!
In the meantime, cars had to have a cassette player. And then the “car tapes” would never leave the car and they’d get all crusty and sticky and be underfoot and generally help to make driving even more dangerous.
Tapes strewn all over bathrooms’ counters.
Tapes in piles on various floor surfaces.
Tapes were life.
If I hadn’t moved so much, I think I’d still have tapes and a boom box.
Other devices came along like “8 tracks” but we all knew they were flashes in the pan. But, sadly, it soon became clear that compact discs (CDs) were not going away.
Oh my cats I was so annoyed I already had an amazing tape collection and it was effectively made null with stupid CDs.
But whatever. I saved up and bought stupid CDs.
And, by the time I was twenty years old, I had a couple hundred CDs and a CD collection that had been painstakingly collected and composed.
And then I later sold a good portion of this CD collection so I could afford food and the such.
Besides, the Internet was now “more real”.
And I’m pretty sure I was one of the first anti-tech people to amass an insane amount of Napster songs.
I had so many random songs on Napster.
And so, when Metallica killed Napster, I was personally offended because I had plenty of Metallica cassette tapes and CDs and feel I had invested in their not making my life more difficult.
Because I again lost a significant portion of my music.
That was a big deal because it wasn’t that long ago when it took such effort to get your music.
You had to wait for musicians to release an album.
In the 1980s when I was in my single digits, you essentially had to listen to the radio to even hear when an album was going to be released.
Or you had to read about it in a music magazine you had to wait to receive if you had a monthly subscription or physically go out and buy it from a store.
And then you had to physically go to record stores and music stores and often wait in line to buy the album.
I can’t even imagine this now.
And it wasn’t that long ago!
I realize the evolution of music access runs parallel with the evolution of technology but computers and AI get enough coverage.
Yeah, going from playing analog Oregon Trail on an Apple IIc
telling a plastic pillar which sits on your kitchen counter to buy something and send it to someone while you make coffee…
yeah, that’s a somewhat frantic jump in technological functionality/dependence.
In any case, I was gifted an iPod which was giant and could hold an incredible amount of data. Therefore, I decided to invest in song accumulation once more.
I uploaded iTunes and spent hours burning boxes of CDs onto iTunes and then transferring them to my iPod.
And then, as time went on, Apple would have an update and erase my entire digital music collection.
Or the iPod would die and years would pass but then I’d get another iPod and then be amused at what fraction of songs were found and loaded onto my new iPod.
Eventually I just gave up.
My song collection became a spattering of random songs. I gave up on “owning” songs or having any kind of quality music collection. If I had been born ten or twenty years earlier, I wouldn’t probably have even bought any cassette tapes and would have just focused on amassing vinyl.
Because I would have been too old to care about keeping up with music playing fads.
And, objectively, cassette tapes largely are shit.
In any case, I recently acquired Apple Music… three months for free… and I got to tell you…
it’s amazing. My life again has meaning.
I am now completing my partial albums and downloading albums I never even bothered to get and replacing albums that were lost in digital transfer along the way and…
Apple Music even has the lyrics for each song.
It’s my favorite technological advance.
And now I don’t have to use YouTube for music access which is becoming terrible because Google bought it and STOP! HERE IS AN AD FOR FIVE SECONDS UNTIL YOU WANT TO SKIP IT UNLESS YOU HAVE TO LET THE WHOLE THING PLAY I tentatively feel I’ve finally found a way to preserve my music collection and a false sense of ownership over the music.
Until the Internet crashes.
But I have my battery operated record player, just in case.
And I hear people are now waiting in long lines for the release of vinyl because businesses are closing after many years or for the annual Record Store Day.
Full circle. 🖤
However you get it, get it because music is medicine.
6 thoughts on “Music Is Medicine But Accessing It Has Been a Real Lifelong Trick”
“car tapes would never leave the car and they’d get all crusty and sticky and be underfoot”
or, to quote Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman:
“All tapes left in a car for more than about a fortnight metamorphose into Best of Queen albums.”
― From: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
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Haha yes the crusty crusty sticky disgusting tapes. How I loved them. I have lost my attachment to cars since music went digital.
And… oh yes. Voice translation and texting can be incredible… frustrating and inaccurate. To each their own as far as how to communicate.
And… you mentioned broken bones? Details forthcoming? Well, I’ve noticed your absence and hope you’re as okay as possible. ☹️
Fractured fibula, big toe, and a rib in a small stair tumbling incident with my 5 month old grandson in my arms. I did not let us pitch onto our punkin heads, and I did not squish Quinn, so that’s good. I was being careful. I was barefoot (best traction). I held onto the railing. I held Quinn on the other side. I took each step seriously, counting as I went, and then there was nothing under my foot.
The tread overhangs were recently removed by the flooring guys who replaced carpet with vinyl planks. They said they were told to. No one knows why, but that’s what their boss said.
I was the fourth person to take the plunge since their “improvement,” and after receiving Ariel’s indignation, they sent a crew out to improve them back.
All together too much drama for me.
Slowly making my way through mountains of emails (some of them even important–like yours).
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And, I really am fine. Just cheesed.
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Oh my word! I’m so happy you and Quinn are alive!!!!!! How completely scary! Oh wow wow wow. So glad you’re “okay”, despite your injuries. My goodness. You likely saved Quinn’s life with your intuitive actions. My goodness. Hugs hugs hugs hugs. And… too much drama indeed. 😣