Before the modern turntable (record player), you were lucky if you or someone you knew could play a music instrument, or, if you were lucky enough to score tickets to the latest opera or symphony, to hear the latest music. Then again, in some cases, you could always find the local hurdy gurdy man or go to a local pub and have fun with the player piano. Before the modern turntable became popular there were Victrolas (gramophones) which played 78s (they were huge records). After the Victrola came modern radio, which was mostly AM with special music programs. After Victrolas and AM Radio came the modern record player, which eventually became portable so you can play your records anywhere there was an electrical outlet. They played 45s and 33 1/3s, and you had to put that little yellow thingamabob in the center of the 45 because the hole was rather large. Yes, I had a portable record player when I was a kid. It was white, orange and pink and it lit up. It was the most awesome thing in my life. I sat for hours listening to my kids’ songs, and eventually Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. I still have tons of records, but nothing to play them on. I have to get myself one of those all-in-ones. You know– the turntable, CD player, and cassette player all in one unit.
I remember it became increasingly expensive to buy needles for the turntable arm. Without the needle you didn’t get any sound.
During the record phenomenon, came 8 tracks, which I was happily not around for in the early-mid 70s. I wasn’t born until the late 70s. So I digress…
At the end of the vinyl phase, cassettes were introduced. I still have tons of my cassettes and I have means to listen to them. The only problems with records and cassettes were records scratched and radios ate cassettes. I used to put in a cassette and then all of a sudden it would sound like the Chipmunks on crack. I’d open the cassette deck and there would be sound track all over the place. In the earlier radios, I was able to get the tape out of the radio fairly unharmed and wind it back into the cassette with no problem. With newer radios I had to rip the tape and say goodbye to my cassette.
Eventually cassettes started to cost an arm and a leg, and the CD was introduced. The good part about the CD is you didn’t have to turn it over. There was no pause in music. CD were really affordable until a few years ago. Now you are lucky if you can find a CD for under $12. Most cost $20-30 and if you want a boxed set, be prepared to spend hundreds of dollars.
Now, in the new millennium, we have this iPod thing, of which I do not own one, and right now I don’t want one. I’d lose it. It looks like a diabetes sugar testing kit. You purchase songs to download and put onto this thing. It’s kind of like a compact walk-man/CD-man (I don’t think they make those anymore, but not sure),They usually come with earbuds, not headphones. I cannot stand earbuds. My ear drums pulsate and I usually get a case of itchy ear disease.
Music stores have changed as well. There used to be Record World and Sam Goody, amongst many others. My friends and I lived for going to record store. They always had great deals. Sometimes you could buy two cassettes for $10. Now you are lucky if you can find one CD that costs that much. They also sold Cassingles, which was one song on each side of the cassette. They used to do that with 45s as well. For a short time they had CD singles, which usually had two-three songs on it. It was more like a sampler. There aren’t too many places that sell music anymore. Borders and the Wiz (are they still around?) have a small selection. Starbucks only has new releases and compilations. Tower Records recently went out of business, but they were the last great chain of music stores around. They had almost everything. I used to spend hours looking around. I guess you can find albums online and download them to your iPod or even just to your computer.
Radio, as a means of transmitting music has changed as well. I mentioned earlier that it used to be AM with special music programs. Well FM, I think came in the late 50s early 60s, and created a whole new music madness. Now people can choose what genre of music they wanted to listen to. Now, I find a lot of music stations play the same music over and over and over again, and there isn’t a whole lot of variety. I’m a rare bird. I listen to the classical station, the new wave/alternative/punk/experimental station, and public radio on a regular basis (I do listen to other stations as well, but these I listen to all the time). National Public Radio allows me to listen to some old-time style shows like “Wait, Wait. Don’t Tell Me,” “What Do Ya Know?” (I think I spelled that wrong), and “A Prairie Home Companion.” Even better on Sunday nights, I listen to Rich Conaty’s Big Broadcast, which plays Big Band music from 8-12 on 90.7 FM, WFUV.org if you want to stream it live. Shameless plug, I know, but I love the show!
On Long Island we do not have a Country station. Alas, I must either turn on CMT or Much Music to get the latest country hits. This brings me to my next point…music television isn’t what it used to be. Remember the good old days? When you couldn’t wait to catch the latest video from the Police? Yeah, well those great videos have gone by way of the sewer, but if you are lucky you can catch them on VH-1 classic. All music television seems to be about these days pathetic television shows. I don’t think glorifying teenage pregnancy is a great thing. I do not think the Jersey Shore is remotely realistic television! Lastly, I do not think seeing the same style videos over and over again, with scantily clad females bouncing around with that having nothing to do with the song, is exactly entertaining. Show me the half naked men to at least be fair…
Remember the days of making mix tapes. You liked a song. You put in a blank cassette (remember the old Maxell commercial?). You pressed record. If you were lucky you could get ten-eleven songs onto a tape. You made mix tapes for your friends. Even my dad made mix tapes. I think they preserved memories and moods. Anyway, you can’t make mixed CDs that way. You can’t just press record. Instead you have to download the music to your computer and then find a blank CD. Next you find a CD burning program and “burn” the songs on to disc. Then you have to make sure you have a compatible disc player to play what they call MP3s. Of course you can just purchase and download your music to your iPod.