What music do you buy, why and how?
The very first record I can remember buying with my own money is the single Imagine by John Lennon. This was when it was re-released after his death in 1980. Prior to that, I remember listening to the records (and tapes, I think) owned by my parents and grandparents.
My Nanny and Granddad had a magnificent gramophone in a beautiful wooden case. It must have been the bees knees at the time. It was the sort where you could load up several 7inch records at once and the machine would play them one by one. I used to be fascinated by the mechanics of this – how did the machine know when to take the next record, I always wondered.
I also bought an album by Elvis Presley after he died – something of a theme emerging here. I’m not sure exactly how soon after after his death this was. It’s funny how things become blurred over time. Elvis died in 1977, so it is possible that I bought this record before Imagine, I suppose, but my memory has them the other way around.
As I grew older, I managed to become influenced by music because I liked it, and not just because musicians were in the news due to untimely deaths. My ABBA fandom kicked in, uncool though it was at the time – see some of my earliest posts on this. And I can remember mostly waiting eagerly for birthdays and Christmas to come around in the hope that I would receive the latest album by my favourite singers and bands. Alternatively, it was a case of saving up precious pocket money, heading out to a favourite record shop and having the pleasure of spending hours browsing through racks and racks of records trying to decide what to buy.
One thing that seemed to emerge as being vital to life’s survival was the arrival of special edition albums and 12inch singles. I can remember acquiring a white vinyl 12inch edition of Billy Idol’s White Wedding – how chuffed I was with that!
And of course, there was the endless creation of infamous mix tapes – oh my friends and I agonised over getting those right.
These days, music is so very accessible, isn’t it. Instantly available; totally flexible – capable of being personalised in ever conceivable way. I have an app on my iPhone which identifies the speed at which tracks are played and selects relevant ones for me to walk to, depending on how fast I want to walk. And if a particular track does not play at a fast enough speed? I can tap the screen and increase the beats per minute – amazing!
I have not tended to be very good at downloading single tracks from iTunes. I often buy a whole album, even if I want only one song. So I think I can allow myself to lighten up a bit here. After all, there really is no difference in selecting single downloads from how things used to be when we were all buying 7 and 12inch records, as well as full albums – 100 years ago, was it?
I realise this has been rather a lot of textual musing for you to wade through, so let’s have some music with which to finish. The Stereophonics’ album Just Enough Education to Perform is an example of something I bought for one track – the iconic Handbags and Gladrags.