The hysterical lawsuit letter you are about to read is very real, but let’s begin our tale here: in the late sixties, my earliest memories of recorded music involved 45s and albums on an ancient record player, one that my tech savvy brother-in-law managed to hook up to my brother’s accordion amp. Mono Led Zeppelin, lots of bass, who wus better’n me?
As my tastes went upscale, around eleven, I purchased—with my own money as I worked the family deli from age seven—a new Zenith ‘Circle of Sound” record player with FM radio and two rather bizarre looking speakers. I still remember the smell as I opened the lid for the first time. The Stones never sounded better. Having ADHD, this lasted only long enough for me to purchase a ‘component system’ from a soon to be incarcerated neighbor, consisting of a Harmon Kardon receiver, Garrard turntable and two bookshelf speakers. By this time, I had ruined at least seventy-five 45s and about twenty albums. That was the thing, you liked them, you played them nonstop, and soon you were looking at hundreds of dollars in scratched up records. Scratch, crackle, pop. Then you awaited repurchase replacements and wasted even more of your hard earned cash.
Upon having secured a hand-me-down 1967 Plymouth Fury at 16, I discovered 8-tracks for cars. I went to the only place that had them at the time, Sears Auto, and got myself a brand-y new, hangin’ from the bottom of the dash, chrome-plated plastic 8-track player with a special “PowerBoost“ button, and two state of the art Jensen 6×9 Co-axials in the rear shelf. I was Mr. Kool at that point, listening to Born on the Bayou as I cruised to work. I could get away with spelling Kool with a K back then, I was that Kool.
Now, let’s get this straight: 8-tracks sounded crappy compared to new albums. But they sounded better than used ones, so the cost for no replacements, portability (listening to your music in your car was a new thing then) and some sound quality, it was worth it. Only they did wear out…quickly. This was soon to become a recurring theme.
Only after I had purchased all the albums I had as 8 tracks, along with many new ones, did the Cassette appear. Smaller than 8-tracks, sounding somewhat better, but only when Dolby came out, the cassette was the new “thing” and there I went, repurchasing all of the music I had already purchased twice, yet again, along with any new music. Now, the cassette had integrated itself with the car’s radio, so new decks and newer speakers were needed, and out went the old stuff. I remember putting out garbage bags full of 8-track tapes. I wish I had them all now, but here’s the rub: they also wore out and sounded awful when they did. Mo money, smaller, worse.
By this time, my addiction to high end audio was at its worst. Custom-made amp, high-end FM tuner, B&O turntable, two decks, Bose 901s, AND Infinity towers. With over six friggin’ miles of wire and four remotes, you needed an engineering degree from NASA to put on a record. My car was even worse. It was about this time my hearing started to go. Huh? Whah? Eh?
The first time I heard about CDs, I was struck by how clear they sounded, yet it still lacked a lot of the “presence” of albums. They supposedly lasted forever, and sounded the same always. Here I went again, repurchasing everything on CD, and all new music from then on. Is this starting to sound like a broken record? CDs were nowhere near the sound quality of new vinyl as it left out some 50% of the information of. Yet, it still became the be-all end-all for music storage. My Telarc brand CD of Star Trek TNG music was responsible for my first encounter with my neighbor. He regularly asked what the fuck I was hammering at 11 PM.
All was well until the invention of the MP3. Now, you could download songs from the web and listen to them on crappy little iPods through crappy little ‘ear buds’. Huh? Whah? Eh? The worst sounding of all the platforms, only the basic sounds remained, no presence, no background sounds, totally unrealistic electronic beeps, lacking all aspects of what real music happens to be all about…just much easier, lighter, and cheaper, but not better.
Now, thanks to people like the late Steve Jobs, we no longer have to interact with other people in our daily lives. Between video games, smartphones and iPods, we can now successfully muddle along without interacting with another soul (off alone in our own little worlds). You know, like in the Zano Zone.
It was about this time that I started to assemble some of the music my Mom used to like, for her to play and enjoy easily. Napster and I became loyal friends. I made many CDs for Mom. I lovingly referred to it as Music of Dead People: Sinatra, Martin, Vale, Bald Tony, et-cetera. It made her happy, and cost me just blank CDs. We all listened to them at her wake. Everyone loved them.
One day I received and email from some lawyer’s office. It stated I had illegally recorded music (the song ‘Pretty Woman’) from the Roy Orbison collection, and was to immediately contact said lawyer to see how much money would be needed from me to escape “many expensive legal issues.”
Here is the actual email that I actually sent back (true story, ask Zano):
To: Mr — —— Esquire
Attorney for the widow of the late Roy Orbison Estate
As I have been a lifelong fan of Mr. Orbison, I have purchased his music, and this song in particular, many times in the past. I have purchased it on a 45, on an album, on an 8 track, on a cassette and on a CD. That’s 5 times, for the same fucking piece of music. I am not some 18 year old little shit selling pirated music on Ebay.
Mr. Orbison is dead. He will at this point not be needing any of my money. His widow will not be getting any more of my money than she already has. Fuck you all. Get a real job, both of you.
I feel strongly that the recording industry owes me at least $9,500.00 for multiple songs I have had to re-purchase over the last 40 or so years. Would you please remit to me a check? No? Then please accept my suggestion to please go fuck off.
My Real Name
Now, I am told, the Compact Disc itself will cease to exist as early as next year. Huh? Whah? Eh? Record stores will soon become a thing of the past. They will probably put one in the Smithsonian. No more rummaging through the clearance bin, looking for that obscure band from Ukraine you loved while on your European Pub Crawl.
Downloads only. I remember as a teen, I used to love reading the liner notes and pictures on a new album. I used to like to actually see the musicians on the album, the session guys, the celebrity ‘friends’ that just bopped in for a song or two, as well as the writers. We have lost for good the sound that was new vinyl, and we lost the album cover art, liners, etc. We now have crappy digital heartless groups of notes created when some technogeek in a fucking studio recording of some idiot kid who can’t sing worth a shit, and put the whole foul smelling porridge through something truly evil, called Auto-Tune. This, presumably, to correct the singer’s lack of ability to, well, er, fucking sing, so it ends up sounding like some kind of futuristic robot shit from hell!
AhahhaAhhahahha!!!! AHhHHAah!!!!!!!!!! Sorry, I suffer from Intermittent Kinison Disorder (IKD). Sam I am.
Kids today have no inkling of a realization that they are, in fact, listening to shit. They never heard of Zeppelin, or the theme from The Magnificent Seven, or Ride of The Valkyries. And they’ve certainly never listened to them on a high end record player from a brand new vinyl album, the way God intended.
Music? No, not any more my friends, not any more.