LORD KNOWS WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR on the internet that I stumbled over “You Should Listen to CDs” on the Wired website. The article was subtitled, “If vinyl is for hipsters and streaming is for everyone else, maybe the forgotten format is for you.” This only makes sense to younger readers, not us old-timers.
By associating vinyl (and complete albums) with hipsters, I must assume that he means the youngsters who pay $29.99 for new vinyl LPs currently available. I assume that because most collectors of vinyl records—whether 78 or 45 rpm singles or 33⅓ rpm albums—are definitely not “hipsters.”
Still, I was intrigued even if I don’t usually pay any attention to Wired as it is geared towards people a few generations younger than me—the generations that spawned hipsters. But I gave this one a read and agreed with the writer, Gilad Edelman, that you should listen to CDs if what you have been listening to is digital downloads.
“If vinyl is for hipsters and streaming is for everyone else, maybe the forgotten format is for you.”
Note that Edelman is listed as a “senior writer for Wired, covering the intersection of tech, politics, and law. Before that, he was executive editor of the Washington Monthly. He has a degree from Yale Law School.” I certainly don’t agree that “vinyl is for hipsters” but if I was Edelman’s age, that might seem to be the extent of the use of records.
After reading the piece, I composed a comment addressing a few of Edelman’s points. For reasons beyond my aging brain’s skill-set, my comment was instantaneously rejected by the publication! I rewrote several words in my comment that I guessed might be the cause of the impediment to publication and resubmitted the comment. Again, it was rejected. I rewrote a few entire sentences, again to no avail.
So, of course, I gave up. But I saved my comment and am publishing it here as an article on The Endless Sixties because this blog needs some new content as I have ignored it for far too long.
But before reading my piece, please read Edelman’s piece. To do that, click here.
As examples of the art of crafting and sequencing and its effects on listening to an LP record, I chose three two-record sets: Bob Dylan’s BLONDE ON BLONDE (1966), the Beatles’ self-titled album (1968), and Miles Davis’ BITCHES BREW (1969). For each, four opening tracks need to be chosen along with four closing tracks. Few albums do this better than “The White Album.”
Thanks for the article which hopefully introduces a few younger readers to the joys of listening to complete albums versus single tracks. Glad to hear that you have discovered the rewards of repeated listenings and realizing that tracks that one may initially dismiss because they “simply sucked” may turn out to be gems that the listener just didn’t get the first few times around.
Now I am looking forward to when you write an article about when you discover the rewards of that unwieldy music playback format, the LP. Wait until you discover that many LPs were sequenced with intelligence and that during the inconvenient time spent getting up from your faverave seat and turning the record over, things are still happening!
For instance, there is the joy in anticipation: What will the second side of the record lead off with? And there are two types of anticipation popular with us LP-lovers: anticipating the unknown and anticipating the familiar.
We album-lovers love anticipating both the unknown and the familiar when we flip the record over.
For example, when you have finished listening to side 1 of YOUNGER THAN YESTERDAY for the very first time and Everybody’s Been Burned is still reverberating in your consciousness, during the time you spend flipping the record over you may be wondering, “How do the Byrds ever follow that masterpiece that just ended?”
Or there is the joy of anticipating the familiar: while you are flipping the record and Everybody’s Been Burned is still reverberating in your consciousness, you are almost salivating for the sound of those gorgeous guitars and the throbbing bass punctuated by the simplest of drums patterns that opens the laid-back psychedelia of Thoughts And Words on side 2.
Or there is the challenge of programming and sequencing the tracks of a complete album issued as a two-record album. We can argue about the merits of various tracks on BLONDE ON BLONDE and THE BEATLES and BITCHES BREW, but it’s almost impossible not to admire how Dylan and Bob Johnston, the Beatles and George Martin, and Miles and Teo Macero pieced the disparate parts of those albums together side by side, and then how they made the “dead space” between the four sides work for the album as a whole—made the whole thing “flow,” almost organically.
And there is a huge difference between holding a 12 x 12-inch cardboard jacket and sliding the record out of its sleeve versus holding a 5.5 x 4.75-inch plastic jewel case and plucking the CD out of its tray, but that’s another story.
Thanks for writing about the joy of albums and keep on keepin’ on!
PS: Of course, if you really need $45,000 monoblock amplifiers to hear the difference between a properly recorded analog LP and its digital CD counterpart, then you might not give a hoot about any of the above . . .
Few were as creative in sequencing the segue from the first side of an album to the second as Firesign Theater. For their first album, WAITING FOR THE ELECTRICIAN OR SOMEONE LIKE HIM from 1968, the second side opens with this greeting: “This is side five. Follow in your book and repeat after me as we learn three new words in Turkish: Towel. Bath. Border. May I see your passport, please?”
Had Wired accepted my submission, my comment above would have been the first comment on the article. Hopefully, my perspective—that of someone who grew up with the LP as it evolved into “the album” in the second half of the ’60s—would have generated interest in my statements and perhaps stimulated comments and conversations from others. Instead, there are now dozens of comments on the page, all dealing with the topic from the perspective of younger readers.
And so it goes . . .
FEATURED IMAGE: In 1970, Miles Davis released BITCHES BREW, which sold hundreds of thousands of copies to rock music fans, people who usually shied away from all things jazz. Miles’ new music was a fusion of jazz with rock, including engineering and production effects associated with psychedelic records at the time. The album featured a wraparound painting by the French surrealist painter of German origin, Mati Klarwein.
In an interview, Klarwein stated that “While it’s easy to see how the cover might represent dichotomies, it is really more about tandems and shared experiences, coupled with the acknowledgment that individual perspectives can create an otherworldly experience.”