Monday, December 15, 2008

Of Music, Technology & Kids Today :sigh:

The new Jensen JiMS 525i may be a great iPod dockable HD Radio, but as technology leaps ever forward, I can't help but feel old nostalgic. Sure, I use the Internet (far too much, according to some), but I can't help but feel that kids today are missing out. Take music, for example.

So many makers of today's music machines, like the new Jensen JiMS 525i, are selling themselves on the the benefit of iTunes Tagging. "How many times have you heard a song on the radio you’d really like to hear again?" they say. "Wouldn't it be great if you could tag that song and buy it?"

Everyone knows that one of the many joys of music, along with the often related ear worm song, is the nagging annoyance of 'knowing' a song, but being unable to name it or who recorded it.

Honestly. It's a thrill.

There's a satisfaction in ending the auditory blackout -- remembering the name -- right as you walk into the record shop, before you have to ask some clerk and show your ignorance in public. And I love waking up at 3 A.M., sitting straight up in bed and uttering, "Power Station!" before passing out again with a sigh. Maybe I'll remember that in the morning; maybe not. But for now, I got it, damnit.

This deficit on the part of the general population to recall the song's title and artist even when listening to it forces you to listen to the radio announcers (even today on those new music stations), just to hear them identify the song. You beat your fist on the dashboard in frustration when they didn't -- and rhythmically on the steering wheel as you repeated the title/artist mantra out loud when they did (yes, all the way to the record shop). If you were home alone on a Saturday night, you could even call into the radio station and ask... The final nail on your loser coffin. This alone made DJs vital to your life.

But, again, sometimes you couldn't count on the DJ for help. You just wandered, frustrated and annoyed until you found one of those rare and annoying but necessary walking encyclopedias of musical knowledge -- those who can who can hear, process & recall such info (along with band, album name, and concert date at CBGB's). We need these geeks of music. And they know it. Hence their egos.

Now the chips on the shoulders of those who do not recall as well have been replaced by some computer chip.

Sure, it's cleaner, easier, and costs your pride less to hold up a device and get the answer than it is to humbly ask your local music knowledge god. But the computer chip has no great stories.

It won't regale you with tales of rock concerts.

Or of staying home one night after being dumped and polishing off a six-pack of Zimas solo while listening to November Rain over and over again until you could get pissed enough (emotionally & alcohol-wise) to angrily sing-scream along with I Used To Love Her.

(Axel Rose sure knew how to musically score a love life -- or so I'm told. I never did that, of course. It's just an example... From my, uh, friend's life.)

Sooner or later we all have the thrill of playing music knowledge god too. Eventually a friend doesn't know the latest release by the hottest new artist -- but you do. And then you get to express your superiority & snark as you reply, "How do you not know of The The?!" followed by a "sheesh!" or a sigh and the mandatory eyeball roll.

Without these mental musical blanks in the minds of your friends, how would you ever get that opening to tell the story of why you'll never-ever forget the Pet Shop Boys' or West End Girls -- because that song sooo reminds you of the night you were sooo drunk you woke up in the dorm's girls' bathroom, staring at the "janitor's" shoes. (He said he was the janitor, but what janitor wears patent leather shoes to his job?)

How else will we be able to share these stories?

Oh yeah... Blogs.

But then, it's not quite the same as being asked -- and I have no idea if you're even listening.

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