Steve Wilson. On music.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

record store reverie

i'll preface this post with a bit of explanation. one of my friends in a yahoo group called the music roundtable had posted this message:
"Didn't you just love it back when reviewers actually listened to, and were
moved by the music they
reviewed? Back in the day when a single note, emotion, inflection or
lyric could carry an entire
album because you knew what they really meant and went along for the ride?"
(the roundtable is composed of bunch of guys with kansas city and lawrence backgrounds, most of whom have been involved in the music industry. some of the names here may be meaningless to those outside the vicinity, but you can insert the names of record stores from your past and your area.)

yeah, that was nice. them days. my son eddie and i went to the cbe, college
basketball experience today. fun for what it was. then, as usual when i'm
in kc, i drop by a fave place or two (d'bronx and broadway coffee house
this time around). but as i drove by what's left of streetside i thought
about music exchange being gone. and even recycled. then i just had to
drive along mission road to show eddie where caper's had been,
architecturally unprepossessing as it is. and it made me sad.

here's the deal. i'm fifty-five. i'm grateful for all of the experiences and
memories that i have from decades as a record junkie and dealer, as a
musician, and as a writer. it's been great. and it still is. and at
fifty-five i'm grateful for the measure of comfort i've found in my soul. i
won't pretend to grace or peace, but i know i'm not the frustrated hothead
that i once was. on the other hand, the music mise en scene that i
experienced as a hothead i would trade for in a new york minute against the
cyber-saturated fool's paradise i live in now.

sure, i enjoy the roundtable. truly. but i'm here because i met all of you
guys back in the day - inside of kief's, caper's, love, exile, the exchange,
and even my sometimes nemeses streetside and penny lane. i can't help but be
nostalgic for the day when the record store was the hub of music excitement
and communication. kief's is still around. thank god. but our role is
diminished by the ravages of an online, internet, click and download world.
and in kansas city? what the fuck is there? one half-ass streetside left and
a handful of vinyl nostalgists.

where do the children play? i thought about don mclean. and 'american pie.'
i guess for every generation there is some place, some occasion where the
music 'dies.' i always found his contention, if you will, premature and
dramatic. but in my own way i'm experiencing the feeling. there was no day
the music died. certainly, in important ways the music itself has not died.
cannot die. but the world in which we grew up, a world which significantly nurtured
our ideas about music and its and our places in the world, is passed or
passing. i don't think it's been replaced by something as good. that simple.

it's nice that i can audition any music in the world with a google search.
yet in some ways the very lack of effort involved is part and parcel of what
i believe has led to a diminished sense of attachment to the art that i perceive on
the part of today's listener, especially the young. it's all accessible, but
it's all disposable and ephemeral, too. it's horizontally on a par with
video games, movies, comic books, whatever the hell else the media saturated
young are soaking in. it's not central, not unique, not the very blood in
their veins that it was for us. it's another consumable, rendered less full
of life, if not lifeless, by corporate culture. maybe the man did bust our
music. and us, i suppose.

well, happy sunday.