Yesterday, I was out and about, and my phone was almost out of juice. The charger chord in my car, which I’d been seeing some wire poking from behind the white, finally quit working all together, and so, I was without my phone. You know, the way I spent the first couple decades of my life. No phone means no Spotify, so, I went back to the radio. The plain ol’ radio. Since I got Spotify Premium, I altogether quit listening to the stuff off the dial. Picking & choosing whatever artist, song, or album I want to listen to, it can’t be beaten, right?
So, as I was tuning up and down the dial, I stopped on Jack FM, here in Nashville. You know what I’m talking about, most markets have one these days, the “we play everything” station. When I’m visiting my folks in Upstate SC, it’s called “Steve FM,” in the SC low country, its “Chuck FM.” So, I stumble on Jack and The Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance.” And here’s where it gets interesting, if I was on Spotify, I probably would have been listening to something off “Whatever and Ever Amen” by Ben Folds Five, as I have been bingeing that album for that last few days. Mostly one song, “Fair.” But, I was jamming when I heard the Pointer Sisters, man. I didn’t know I wanted to hear the pointer sisters until I HEARD THE POINTER SISTERS, you know. Yeah, all the streaming services have their on radio feature, Spotify’s radio is damn good. But it’s all based on whatever mood I’m in. So, yesterday, I probably would have been listening to Ben Folds radio, Roger Miller, or something in my typical wheelhouse . And yeah, a majority of the time before streaming, I would go up and down the dial and eventually just shut the radio off.
But, there was a time when there were few things better than hearing a song that I really dug on the radio. I miss the days of getting to your destination and staying in the car until the song is finished. Almost everything at your fingertips has an obvious upside, but there’s a certain excitement that is lost. But, I don’t miss the days of being super stoked about a new album by a band I really liked, going to the record store, throwing down my hard earned high school dollars just to put it in the disk player, then go through my usual new purchase routine:
Listen to about 30 seconds of a song, to get a thumbs up or down vibe, and move on to the next one. And with in a relatively quick scan, usually while still in the parking lot, I knew if the record was good. It was a great feeling when you were digging the album, and a complete bummer when you thought it sucked, wishing you had a shrink wrapper in the trunk and could run back in and get your money back.
Is it all just too easy now? So easy, that it means less? I have no idea. I’m sure some kid in middle school or high school still gets really into and inspired by some band he’s streaming. So, looking back, sure, it was a great day when the Black Crowes “Amorica” and Tom Petty “Wildflowers” came out on the same day, and they were both killer albums. And to me, there’s a little bit more romanticism in going to pick them up at the Record store. Except, I specifically remember that I went to Best Buy to get the albums, it was a couple dollars cheaper there, and then being pissed when my brother came home from the cool store with his copy of “Amorica” which had the cover with the American Flag bikini bottom with the pubes sticking out, and mine was censored. But, still, it was a memorable day of purchase.
But, I’ve lived enough to understand that you don’t miss what you never experience in the first place. And kids are still going to dig their tunes and continue to listen in whatever way is currently happening.
And really, all that matters is that the tunes are good.