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Remembering Happiness

Some of the happiest times in my life always revolved around music. Basically, a huge part of my childhood and adolescence was spent on the floor of my bedroom, listening to new CDs. I had one hell of a music collection. I started working at 14 and used every check to buy music. Looking back, I probably should have put that money in an IRA but whatever, the music made me so happy. I could sit for hours, read liner notes and just... listen. Or I would have friends come over and we would literally just sit and listen. I mean, that was it. We weren't scheduled to be somewhere, we didn't have to do anything. We just listened to music and then talked about it. If the weather was warm, we'd sometimes take a walk and get an ice cream and that was the extent of it, I swear.

The older you get the more responsibilities you have and the more stuff you acquire. Basically, it's all junk that really separates you from what really matters most in life. For me what matters most, beyond my family of course, is my music. I can't even remember the last time I listened to an album from start to finish. That's not to say anything about listening to music that wasn't playing as background noise when I'm doing something else, usually working. I don't even have a proper stereo anymore! I have an awesome Bose bluetooth speaker that connects to my phone, but still. My Mac laptop doesn't have a CD drive so the only way I can listen to CDs now is in my car. I subscribe to Amazon music so I don't even have to buy individual albums anymore, although I still do on some occasions to support the musicians I love.

Then there is the giant time suck of social media. Basically it's all garbage and everyone is addicted, including me. I've started to tune out. I'm limiting myself to 30 minutes a day. There are no more social accounts on my phone. Sadly, I can't just completely delete my accounts because I do marketing professionally, including account maintenance for all my organization's feeds, but still. People scroll through feeds like a junkie looks for his next hit. It's insane. You can't have a conversation with anyone anymore because they always have their face buried in their phone screen! I can understand why musicians go off on fans for having their phones out at shows. No one is experiencing anything in the moment anymore. I have so many fond memories of shows from before the iPhone destroyed the world. Now it's true: you can't even see the damn stage because some idiot has their phone on "video" mode, their arm shoved right in front of you.

It's no wonder the music industry is so screwed. Artists give their songs away as loss leaders to really make a living off T-shirt sales. People can't tell you the name of an individual song and forget about recounting the album name. Liner notes and cover art don't matter. Everything is digital and throwaway and garbage and wasteful excess. Artists will always create because they must, but it sure is a shame the kids of today won't have the same fond memories of sitting on their bedroom floor, listening to an album from start to finish and just being in the moment, no selfies required.

Reader Comments (13)

I feel your pain. its a sad state of affairs. There is a great new game out call "Songversations" (Got mine on Amazon), designed for this purpose. to get people talking about music, the memories, and good times. Check it out!
October 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJeff
👏👏👏 That’s the sound of me clapping Allyson. That was a splendid post. 👍👍 2 thumbs up from this corner of the peanut gallery.
October 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGary
Your best post ever, Allyson. I, too, spent countless hours on the floor of my bedroom listening to and reading the liner notes, etc to albums. I miss that.
October 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJAT
Used to listen to vinyl in my parent's basement all the time. That was my job as a kid, apart from school and cleaning my room.

In addition to reading liner notes in albums, I used to create awesome KISS scrapbooks, with clippings and KISS collector cards and drawings of them that I did, even though I suck at art.

Good times and nice memories.

Ha ha, and I still remember my poor dad running into the room in his underwear that time I woke him from his nap by cranking Detroit Rock City and not plugging in the head phones all the way. Lol. RIP Dad.
October 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRita
Good post, Allyson. Like (I assume) everyone who regularly reads BBG, music has been profoundly important to me through the years, and I actually feel bad for anyone who doesn't feel it as deeply as I do. Some of my earliest memories were of going to visit older cousins and spending hours thumbing through their vinyl collection, poring over the album art & liner notes as I played the music. This is how I was introduced to Van Halen, Meatloaf, the Ramones, Alice Cooper and the Beach Boys.

That said, I don't know that kids today necessarily have a worse experience, but it's definitely different. IMO, the biggest difference lies in accessibility. When I was a kid, it wasn't easy to get music - I had to rely on gifts, and when I did have enough $ for a record, it was a hard decision. Or I had to listen through the crappy top 40 countdown on the radio so that I could tape the single song I wanted, and then hope that the DJ didn't cut it off early. Similarly, information wasn't easily available for my favorite bands. I had to wait for the next issues of Circus or Hit Parader, and then hope that there was a feature about Crue or Maiden. Fortunately, there usually was. :-)

All of this made music feel extremely valuable, and I think contributed to how much I cherished it. It's different now - every song is basically available for free, and all the information you could ever want is always a click away. This is absolutely great for fans, but it doesn't take any effort to follow a band anymore, and I wonder if that has an impact on the quality of younger music fans.
October 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBryon
Thank you, Allyson. I bet you'll read a lot more similar stories to yours. What you are describing is called active listening; where the music is the activity rather than the background to some other activity. I am lucky to have grown up in the 70s and 80s when music was still a huge deal.

Listening to music has been my very favorite thing to do ever since I was a very little boy. I would sit on my bed, either alone, or with friends, and just focus 100% on the music. Of course, since I am blind and don't have any visual distractions to deal with, the music really can become the complete focus of my attention, and I would spend hours a day just fixated on the amazing sounds coming out of those record grooves.

I am very fortunate that I still make time almost every day for active music listening once I get home from work. I have digitized my massive collection of records and CD's, and for new albums I buy digital copies -- always the whole album as opposed to individual tracks. I have miticulously organized my digital music on hard drives, and I bought a high-quality FM transmitter so I can broadcast the music from my computer to my 34-year-old stereo system in the livingroom.

I'll cue up a bunch of albums that fit whatever mood I'm in, sit on the couch, and just completely disappear into the music. That always has been, and hopefully always will be, my happy place.
October 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Awesome post and ironically I was thinking about this very topic recently. I remember doing exactly the same thing as a kid. Music was my escape and my friend. Bonds were formed with others through music. I used to cut the cool pages of Rolling Stone out and place around my room. BTW those Rolling Stones were probably a year old and a relative would drop them off in a huge bundle.

I too was strapped for cash and buying new music was a challenge but through friends you could tape and swap albums. I remember when concert shirts were a badge of honor - you had to go to the show to get the shirt - there was no buying it online or at Hot Topic.

Bob I envy your collection and admire how you utilize it. It was a struggle to get new music where I lived in the sticks. Early in the morning before the sun came up I could pull in Q102 out of Dallas and in the early evening into the night I could get WLS AM 89 out of Chicago - heard AC/DC's Back in Black for the first time on that station.

Friends shared music and turned each other on to good music. I will never forget running into some friends in town and the first thing they said was man we have a band for you, listen to this and it was RATT out of the Cellar. I have carried music with me everywhere and still do. But I am getting more digitized everyday and feel bad about it because I do miss the album covers and linear notes. I guess I am getting old and miss the good old days :) Thanks for the great post Ally.
October 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterShawn
Says she doesn't buy albums anymore and in the same exact post gives that as a reason why musicians struggle more financially these days. Priceless. Btw, I still buy albums, go to the concerts and buy the concert shirts.
October 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBkallday
I will still purchase albums, though I admit, I do purchase some individual songs, also. If an 80's glam band puts something out, I will most likely be buying the album. I grew up without much extra cash, but frequently spent my money on music. Whenever I make it back home, I try to make it to the record store of my youth, even if to make a small purchase.
I rarely have time to actively listen, but most often have music going in the background. I also liked the liner notes, but now I am too damn old to be able to read them.
October 11, 2017 | Unregistered Commenteroper8n
I spent quite a few years not actively listening to music. Just tune into the classic rock station and let it be. I was convinced that there was nothing being made that was good. Then I turned off the radio and started digging.

For the past four years or so, I have been actively searching out new music. And actively listening to music. There is some really fantastic new music being made all the time. Since my floor-sitting days in my room, my scope has expanded beyond glam/hard rock. Not too far, but noticeably expanded.

I make time to actively listen to full albums. Can't get a full sense of the artist without it. I pay for Spotify and since I've started actively listening to music again, I've purchased more music in the past four years than the previous 15. So, you can pine for the past or make use of technology to enhance your music experience.
October 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTheCheapSeats
Kudos to you Allyson, for this journalistic endeavor- well thought out and well written- with muscle, flair and tenacity. I could add some additional commentary, but from Jeff to Cheap Seats and those in between, tells me that it's pretty much been covered.
October 12, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterfletch
Great topic, Allyson and great comments, all! Well, at least to those who actually offered comments.

I’ve talked about some of this before like taking blowing 2 entire paychecks on CDs in Tower Records when they were liquidating before they shut the doors.

I now have well over 10,000+ CDs and around 3,500+ LPs, around 1,000+ 45s, 500+ 8-Tracks and nearly 2,000 Cassette Tapes, including some of the rarest collectible stuff you can’t find anywhere. I could easily open a Record/CD/Tape store or sell it all off on Ebay, especially now with the advent of services such as Apple Music, etc.

However, I choose to keep all the stuff in Storage and occasionally yank a bunch of them out for sometimes hard to find stuff that’s not on Apple Music, Spotify or YouTube, etc.

And I am pretty much operating as many have mentioned above, picking songs I like, especially brand new ones, to create playlists. That said, more than occasionally, I will get an entire album, particularly if it’s just released and every song on it turns out to be absolutely killer, thus making a killer album!

In fact, today, I picked up what could be a top contender for Best Album of 2017, one which many here have predicted to be as such - “The Missing Peace” by L.A. Guns. What can I say, to all who predicted it, you were absolutely 110% correct! It IS completely KILLER and I highly recommend it to all! Other recent releases that come to mind I think are stellar are Cheap Trick, “We’re All Alright!” and The Darkness, “Pinewood Smile” (which just dropped a couple of days ago) and those are just for starters. I will add more and welcome the same, should you all care to add some, too! I ALWAYS love the recommendations given on here!

p.s. Rita! There you are, my fare Metal Maiden! Oh, how I have missed you!
October 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Great topic, Allyson and great comments, all! Well, at least to those who actually offered comments. -Metalboy!

To whom do you speak, little toy one? friggin, Him?
October 14, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterfletch

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