Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Lesson in History of A Lesson In Music

A long time ago, someone was trying to make a crepe and they accidentally made a record instead. People figured out that these "vinyl LPs" were much better at holding music than gruyere cheese and creme fraiche...so that's what they did. For a long long time, it was the only way anyone could hear The Police...until the invention of the 8-track.

Those reminded people too much of Nintendo games, and they kept breaking when those same people would try to shove them into the console. So then the someones invented cassette tapes instead. Cassettes really should've been much better than the records since they were so much smaller, and could be thrown onto the floor of people's cars without being destroyed; however, they still had to be turned over manually to hear the entire album. So they pretty much sucked.

Then came the "compact disc". These were made by the peoples who were nostalgic for the records...and probably the crepes as well. The Police too, for that matter. CDs are the same basic idea, except not black, are smaller...and they eliminated that nasty little chore of having to flip to hear the whole album. Perfection, mais non? It was about time. One little snag. They scratched so easily, one of them could be rendered unusable if it was looked at crossly. Very tiresome.

Now the someones have made mp3s. They're songs that float in the air over your head in thousands of tiny pieces like Mike TeeVee and Wonka Bars. They're called to our ears through white "ear buds" and if you can capture them, you can keep them in cages called "ipods". It's all very technical.

I have all the above options in my home. Depending on my mood and what I want to hear...I can play any of them at any one time. Or all of them at any several times. But that could end up sounding like a Velvet Underground song...so I usually refrain. Or just put on the Velvet Underground. Which I have on both CD and LP. It all depends on whether or not I feel the urge to flip.

If I want to hear Bel Biv Devoe, I could play a tape. I have a handy dandy player thing that does the flipping for me. Strange thing...I haven't really been moved to give them a listen since approximately 1991. I blame grunge. But I won't let my tapes go. They hold a special place in my heart. Or in a shoe box in a crawl space.

If I wanted to hear Kiss I could break out the 8 track. But since I found it in a box on the side of the road...I'm not positive they'd come through sounding their best. It's like fluorescent dressing room lighting for the ears. Not to mention the fact that I do not own an 8 track player. The box did not contain one. Now that I think of it...I'm not sure where that Kiss 8 track is exactly.

And so...with Kansas working late, I'm taking my records out for a spin (he hogs the phonograph just because "it's his". Selfish). So far this evening, we've (Tallulah and I) enjoyed Shirley Bassey, Nancy Sinatra, Tom Jones, Bobby Darrin and Blondie. And the night has only just begun. Of course, by the time I get halfway through the "to play" pile (Talking Heads, The Kinks, Nina Simone and Traffic)...I'll probably be fed up with having to constantly stop what I'm doing to flip the goddamn record. Stupid crepes.

23 keep(s) me blogging:

ZenBoomer said...

I can do you one better... I have a collection of Bakelite 78's and a Victrola crank-up phonograph. Plays one song at a time, scratchy and holly-tinny sound, but classic. The ultimate in "unplugged" entertainment.

Before that, it was only T. Edison's wax cylinders. Oh, the humanity.

The Future said...

Well thank goodness all that technical history has finally been explained. Frankly, as long as I could hear Elvis and Mark Lindsay, I didn't care what form they came in.

And what's with the picture, is this where you found the KISS box?

Kara said...

zenboomer - how come i've never seen this contraption? you've been hiding it, haven't you. selfish.

future - glad you're not picky. no...that picture is from Drink For The Cure II. Burnside bridge was closed, so i decided to be in the middle of it. it doesn't really go with anything, but then...i shouldn't have to explain myself to you...judger.

Gorilla Bananas said...

You can't beat a live band. I'm not talking about a concert where you're surrounded by idiots, but a private show in your palace (if you have one). I admired Debbie Harry for being a beauty who stood by her man. The Tide is High was my favourite song.

Old Knudsen said...

I used all my 78's as paving stones.

Rachel said...

I like my crepes stuffed with sweetened cream cheese and some sort of warm berry sauce....hmmm...
damn it, I'm hungry!

The Future said...

Random...I like it.

Anonymous said...

Perfection is the combo. Some bands (Band of Horses, Iron & Wine), some record pressing plants (United Record Pressing) and some labels (Merge, Subpop, Brushfire) are putting out vinyl with free MP3s. You can't beat that with a stick... or a clunky 8-track.

Jill said...

I'm still jealously guarding a cassette tape put out by a local band in the early 90's who never made it big enough to get their stuff put on a CD. I'm not sure why exactly. The tape itself has probably already disintegrated. But I still have it.

Jahooni said...

i'm back. can't stay away. Let me read this after I get some work done today... ;-)

Sarah said...

Bel Biv Devoe... Hilarious. I can picture you listening to them in your seafoam room with our hand/footprints on the ceiling.

Sam, Problemchildbride said...

I still like to hear my scratchy Leonard Cohen "Songs From A Room" record more than any "pure, clean sound" from Bose. Stuff pure, clean sound sometimes! Stuff it and mount it on a wall adn then burn the house down. Vinyls rocks. And scratches. Indubitably a flaw, I'll admit.

Susie Q said...

Vinyl...The scratches added to the whole experience, folks. And there is nothing so sweet as the "chhh-chhh-chhh" sound when the side was done.
Annnd, because you couldn't really go too far away cause of the need for flippage, you also really listened. Heck we sat on the floor and looked at the album covers. Good grief, before music videos, we ONLY knew visually what was on the cover. I still don't know what most of my "old" favorite bands looked like.

Mary Witzl said...

I was all excited about being able to tell you about our crank-up Victrola with its collection of weird old vinyls (The Sheik of Araby is my own personal favorite), but then I read Zenboomer's comment and now I don't feel special anymore. Damn. A Victrola is great if you ever have a black-out. We once popped popcorn on an Aga stove and played our Victrola during a black-out, and -- well, it was different.

Love Talking Heads and Leonard Cohen. I can't play them on my Victrola, though.

Kara said...

goranas - do you live in a palace? i should like to visit.

knud - are they slick when it rains?

rachel - now that you are a regular reader...i try to be cognizant of including non-sound related material when writing about music and such. i don't want to lose you. and crepes rock.

future - yes, you should

anonymous - i've heard of hobos getting beaten to death by hoodlums brandishing 8 tracks. at least i think i have. maybe i made that up.

jill - so what's their name? spread the word, lady.

jahooni - work blows. i'm currently not doing any of it. though i should be.

sarah - i know, huh. a long time ago...we were young.

Cat said...

I am a fickle tramp when it comes to music-[whatever's the correct collective noun - I'm too hungover to think]. [receptacles?] [carriers?]

I happily dumped my tapes in exchange for CDs, and when the Ipod entered my life, I left the CDs behind without a backward glance.

I have a feeling that maybe I shouldn't be admitting this...

Kara said...

sam - cohen's voice sounds god-like no matter where it comes from.

sue - you know...kansas does that. just sits and listens. i never do that anymore (oh how i used to). now i have to be "doing" something when music is playing. sad.

mary - Louis Prima does a sweet version of The Sheik of Araby. Zenboomer would've beaten you either way, however...since he's my father, i've a vested interest in making sure that victrola is coming my way upon his kicking the ol' bucket. yeah, i'm an awesome daughter.

cat - we'll settle on music "casings", shall we? don't want to make that headache any worse.

froelica said...

Susie Q, I'm SO with you on the chhh chhh chhh. I could fall asleep to that sound, and probably have.

Orhan Kahn said...

What a sweet little post.

I threw away all my tapes and records long ago, I have CD's stack in a cupboard somewhere. I do however have over 40 thousand mp3's with about 150 sitting on my iPod I have stashed under the bed which I sometimes listen to when I can't sleep.

Old Knudsen said...

*Not as slick as a priest in a kindergarden.*





*comment was made while high on cough drops, please don't take me to court.*

Jahooni said...

you are starting to look like Gorilla Bananas, NEW POST please.
Tick Tock Tick Tock

Kara said...

fro - word. it's bad for the records though. tsk tsk.

knudsen - mind the quantity of cough drops, friend...i've seen men who think they can take on bears while on a cough drop high.

jahooni - you can't compare me to him. i'm waaaaaaay cuter.

Kara said...

forgot you Or, but i think that's because i'm automatically programmed to overlook compliments. it's one of the great things about me that's prolly gonna help me die alone.