For me, there are few things as satisfying as going to a record store and picking out a new slab of vinyl for the turntable or a few new CDs and spending my afternoon with headphones and a lyric booklet.
It is a passion I have never grown out of since I bought my first album, Unknown Road by Pennywise, in 1993.
Unfortunately, this is something the vast majority of people have grown out of. They favour a new system of downloading a band’s entire catalog, previewing 30-second clips of a few songs, deciding they are boring and looking to see what else is out there. No longer do most people save up the $14 it takes to buy a new CD and make a real effort to absorb the music and the effects that it can have on people before moving on to something else.
A few weeks ago, I decided to check out a show at the Odeon featuring the notoriously cheesy power-metal band, Dragonforce (yes, the same band from Guitar Hero II) and Sonata Arctica. I had been waiting to see Sonata Arctica, who are Finnish veterans of the power-metal scene, for years. While waiting in line outside, I eavesdropped on a conversation behind me. Ahem.
“Have you heard this Santa Arcta band?” asked Buffoon Number One of Buffoon Number Two, who quipped condescendingly, “Oh yeah, I downloaded their whole discography and they are total crap. I deleted it after like five minutes.” What bewildered me was that he couldn’t just go to MySpace and preview a song or two; he had to download their entire catalogue — 10 years’ worth of music just to get an opinion in five minutes and decide that they aren’t worth his time.
In our culture, we download illegally instead of buying. I believe this to be wrong, undermining musical culture. In the past five years or so, many of my friends have downloaded an album, put it on their iPod, listened to it once and then discarded it forever. They didn’t take the time to realize this was the work of four or five individuals who slaved over their music for years.
Think back to when you were younger and discovering new bands was mind-blowing. In order to re-capture that youthful excitement of hearing and obtaining new music, I urge everyone that when you hear a band you like on MySpace or iTunes to either buy the CD or LP online or in a store (the Vinyl Diner and the Vinyl Exchange in Saskatoon are both excellent), sit down with your favourite headphones and the lyric booklet and take pleasure in the music.
Make music an experience. That is how all of your most beloved bands want you to enjoy their work. If you don’t know what to buy, just check out one of those new Beatles re-masters or something classic. A friend of mine now swears that the newly re-mastered Beatles White Album is as close to a religious awakening as he will ever have.