Stay Cool Dad

Digging for gold by Simon Sharwood
January 31, 2006, 10:47 am
Filed under: Just listened to ...

The iTunes Music Store is a boon; you hear something on the radio or read a review in Pitchfork, head over to iTMS and click. It’s especially lethal after a couple of beers on a Saturday night when you think “yeah, I’ll have that…” and that too. Oh, and I’ve simply gotta buy that. Fortunately, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was a brilliant selection, and I’d recommend it to everyone.

But what happens in 15 years time? It’s quite conceivable that I’ll have all my iTMS purchases backed up the wazzoo, but how are my kids gonna explore the collection?

I remember when I was a grom, just discovering music, I’d raid my old man’s LPs and tapes. That was where I first heard Talking Heads: 77, Cream and Roxy Music, Blondie’s Atomic and more surf music than you would believe. I’d sit there and pore over the liner notes and pictures as though they were artefacts handed down from on high.

But digital copies don’t really allow that sort of easy exploration, or the rewards of persistence. Assuming that everything I own is stored on some sort of basement data silo, piped to anywhere in the house, where’s the value and excitement of exploration and discovery?

Where are the cryptic images and liner notes. It’s just a digital soup. That’s partly why I’m trying to wean myself off iTMS and back to CDs and LPs.


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I’ve often thought about the hours I spent as an early teen, lovingly taking my LPs out of their plastic shrouds and noticing every detail about the cover art. The switch to CDs was never the same – the bits of paper were too small. Now I buy digital music and I’m lucky if I even know what the songs are called. But what I love most about the ‘digital soup’ (as you so artistically put it) is the lack of plastic coming into my house. I don’t want any more things cluttering the place up – but I still want to hear new music. I do worry how my kids will spend their teenage hours if they don’t have LP covers to study.

Comment by Elissa

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