Nostalgia for vinyl does not extend to getting up to turn the record over.
In the week that U2 released its new album to humanity or free via Apple, I had been in my backyard shed. It being the start of spring, I ventured back into the unheated space, opened the windows and let in the vernal breeze. I also opened the cover of my record player – yes, record player – to let in the memories.
Records, being deemed dinosaurs (big and cumbersome) by certain unnamed parties in my household, are not allowed in the house. So I set forth in my shed to free my vinyl collection from its fold, gatefold and, in the case of some pretentious prog-rockers, triple gatefold confines. You know who I mean: Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer.
I settled on Loudon Wainwright III and his Album II from 1971. The first track, Me and My Friend the Cat blew the cobwebs from the ceiling but here was the thing: no sooner had I sat down to listen to a young Loudon – pre dead skunk – sing away in a high voice, then I HAD TO GET UP AND TURN THE RECORD OVER! This wasn't the shock of the new. It was the shock of the old.
It wasn't even 20 minutes worth of audio pleasure. It was more like 16 minutes. At least I hadn't gone for side four of Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde. I would have been getting up before I sat down. It consists of one song, Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, and clocks in at 11 minutes, 20 seconds.
So, quite unaccustomed to the movement, I arose and lifted the needle back to its clip, turned the vinyl over, placed the needle back at the start of the groove and returned to my seat. But then, it happened: a song I really didn't want to hear (Cook that Dinner, Dora, since you asked). I don't know why the hatred rises when it begins, but it does. So there were three options: hum something else, very loudly; turn the volume down, or skip the track.
But with the the last two options I HAD TO GET UP AGAIN AND LIFT THE NEEDLE ACROSS TO THE NEXT TRACK! So this is what I had become, I mused, as Loudon entreated: "Set that table, Dora / Set a place for me / Arm me with utensils / I will use them wait and see." (I'd long ago given up looking for the deeper meaning.)
I had become a slave to the slim controller – the remote – and in my enslavement I had resented what had once been natural. I had become a slave to the slim controller – the remote – and in my enslavement I had resented what had once been natural. I realise people strap their MP3s to their arms when running, riding and snorkelling, but that's using music like a sweat band. Most people don't.
My shed is not large. It's more a storage facility than a studio. So it's only a matter of a few steps from chair to turntable. But still, such has been the indulgence of nearness that digital gadgets provide I wasn't quite prepared for the acidic indolence that made itself known when I had to CHANGE THE DAMN RECORD! As an aside I have a theory that in the future if anthropologists are wondering when humans developed larger thumbs. I could tell them it was now. Text had replaced sex as an evolutionary tool. But I digress.
Given the resurgence in vinyl, which is admittedly relatively small in the vast ocean of digital music, a thought occurred (I had replaced Loudon with Yes, in preparation for their concert in Melbourne in November). Yes can do that: they can sing of the mystic, of crystal visions in a language of gibberish all at the same time, and make it sound like golden insights.
My thought was this: we need a vinyl-led recovery from obesity. Imagine if throughout the land teenagers had to listen to records. This would combine exercise and aesthetics. It's a win-win scenario. Parents could take the lead. "Now son, daughter, this large black round thing with the tiny hole in the middle is a record. When a needle moves across it sound emerges. Good sound, with a range where you can hear what the artist had actually recorded. Now you'll actually have to get up and turn it over to listen to all of it. But remember that's why our brave men and women went to war. So you could listen in peace." And if you wanted them to do sprints, tell them to listen to 45s.
Mind you, it's not just the young. All sections of the population need it. Obesity is chronic. However, the young are the future. A recent survey found that more than 80 per cent of children don't even get 60 minutes of exercise a day. More than two thirds of those between the ages of 5 and 17 spend more than 120 minutes looking at an electronic screen a day.
Trevor Shilton, the Heart Foundation's physical activity spokesman said: "What we're facing is a potential future health crisis where heart disease, diabetes and obesity rates will rise. This is a wake-up call and there is no sign this will get any better.
"We're raising a generation of couch potatoes."
But it doesn't have to be that way, I think, as I say no to Yes and put on Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. Not quite a run, not quite a sprint....
Bron: The Age 14-09-2014
Muzieknieuws uit de internationale pers
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