As the resident curmudgeon emeritus I claim the right to vent here and again. As one of the co-founders of what once was a music magazine in print and all that foolishness I like to imagine that my music geek credentials are still well enough in order. Anybody walking through what passes for my office, which really looks like an unkempt storage locker with unpacked boxes of CDs supporting unhung artwork, shelves of LPs and 45s and all the rest...I think my geek credentials are in order.
But maybe they're not, not any more.
Peter posted a question on Facebook about something called Spotify, wondering if it was worth the trouble. Kyla invited me to play DJ on some virtual something-or-other but when I clicked through it asked for a bunch of information I tend to think -- even as a very public confessional writer -- ought to stay private, and so I declined.
I have no idea what Spotify is.
I'm quite sure it's new and important and will utterly change the listening habits of generations which follow.
But not me.
Used to be, if you wanted to learn about music you turned on the radio. If you really liked something you'd go to the mall and buy it. If you really got into music you'd go to an indie record store and listen to the clerks. Buy a magazine.
All of which is now virtual.
But you have to care to play now. You can't casually decide to become interested in music, in finding new music. You have to master various kinds of technology, spend hours hunting sites, sifting through files, staring at your computer.
I don't have time for that.
I don't have time for that crap.
There was a smug piece on the economy in The New York Times a few days ago -- I make time for that, online, yes -- that argued we need get past our fixation on physical objects, get busy in the new information economy trading money.
I call bullshit.
We have this perverse impulse to detach ourselves from the physical world. See: rising obesity rates. See: the utter disregard society shows for the making of things. See: the price of everything.
We have turned food into a luxury item. Good food, that is. What our grandparents grew on the farm, what I'm trying to grow and eat these days.
And a product, with fewer choices, witness the sudden rise of Kroger brands.
I love music, surround myself with it in every way possible. But I'm too busy living my life, engaging with my daughter, having sit-down meals with my family, growing our food, helping to operate our businesses, to spend hours glaring at this screen trying to figure out how to operate the latest technological whiz-bang.
Thing is, once you drop out of the tech race, it ceases to matter. It does absolutely nothing to enhance my pleasure in listening to music.
And instead of adding to the potential audience for a song, it is diminished, in my humble opinion, by every single new widget one is obliged to master in order to find it and listen to it and store it.
Follow the money: The money isn't in making music. It's in writing software and in manufacturing (offshore, of course; we can't make it here) the disposable equipment on which it plays back.
I call bullshit.
We're being conned. This isn't newer and better, not for music, not for musicians, not for music fans. My brother used to be a hi-fidelity nut, had the most expensive stereo he could cobble together. It made him more interested in the quest for perfect sound than in what the sound conveyed.
We walk that path now.
Further from community. Online communities aren't real. You don't know me, no matter how eloquently or plainly I portray myself here. You know who you imagine me to be, if you trouble even to do that.
Enough. I've got work to do. And, yes, I realize the contradictions and incomplete thoughts wending throughout. No matter.