"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Thursday, April 11, 2013

got good music?

When Eddie and I got married, the things we merged that became our largest asset (we definitely had more of them than anything else) were our our album collections. In fact, one of the reasons we knew right away that we liked each other was that we shared affection for JT, Joni, Bonnie, Eric Clapton, Jethro Tull, Poco, John Prine, Loggins and Messina, Buffalo Springfield, Dylan, the Beatles, CNS&Y and Jackson Browne. In the early 70's, what else mattered but the music?

I used to buy albums (and before those - 45's) at a place called Barney Miller's. Every Saturday I would take the bus downtown, babysitting money tucked inside my wallet, and hang out among the record bins. At Barney Miller's, there was a listening both - kind of like a phone booth. Once I'd selected the albums I wanted to hear, I could go in there and give them each a listen. Grab a bunch of records, drop the needle on the vinyl and presto! you've got the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. 

Once I got to Kansas City, I hung out among the bins at Penny Lane. They didn't have a listening booth, but they did have Leroy. He was a sweet, hulking hippie with long thinning hair and oversized wire rims. He always wore overalls. Leroy knew my taste in music and always pointed me toward the right albums to take home.

Then came CDs, which I reluctantly started buying. Leroy would open up the ones he thought I should hear and play them on the store's sound system. My own giant listening booth.

Yesterday I decided I needed to add some new tunes to my music library, which is all neatly categorized and stored on my computer. (I've come a long way, baby.) At any rate, my shopping spree for records now consists of going to iTunes and scrolling through hundreds of releases. It's a daunting task. I can listen to snippets of songs to decide if I want to buy or not. There's a lot of clicking involved. I should have been framing photographs last night, but I went album shopping instead.

I should have been framing photographs this morning, but I went album shopping again - clicking my way through records by artists I like, then artists that iTunes thinks I might like since I liked the first artist, then artists who were favored by other consumers who also liked that first artist. It's a long trail down which to trek, and I could have spent all day with my hiking boots on. 

The funny thing is, I came up empty handed. Audio overload, I guess.

The framing awaits, and so does a good record from my tried and true music library - something I will play on my way groovy Sonos system. 


Rick Stare said...

Yes, Sonos is fantastic! Amazon and iTunes got it very right with the ability to sample music and buy individual tracks, and showing you other artists that sound like the one you are listening to is genius. And Pandora of course, just create a channel for the artist you like and see what other artists they mix in with it. Modern updates to the listening booth.

I loved Rubber Soul, but I'm mostly listening to jazz these days. Sam Yahel on Hammond B3 in a trio with Joshua Redman and Brian Blade. Also another trio The Bad Plus makes me happy to be alive.

Anonymous said...

Check out Alt-J. A new band from the UK. Very interesting sound. Saw them in Milwaukee 2 weeks ago. Also anything by "Elbow," a band from my home town.

- Phil

Gloria Baker Feinstein said...

Thanks, guys. I will check these out for sure!