Friday, February 12, 2010

The other browser

The CD player in our car is broken. This is causing me a great deal of heartache and disruption. Sure, we have XM and I would be equally stressed, especially during baseball season, should my XM go belly up. And, yes, I have an iphone with nearly all the 8GB available filled with music (the remainder being pictures; I am not an app-nut.) But much of my music resides in the now archaic medium of compact discs and I miss that part of my psyche.

My music collection is eclectic and not new. Many of the CDs are recordings I first owned as tapes and a few as LPs, for goodness' sake. The music I love, I don't tire of. As a matter of fact, I am quite likely to purchase most of the recordings made by some artists. I never have been one for greatest hits albums; hey, I could hear those as much as I wanted. Nope, give me a good obscure tune, maybe written by the singer, but with lyrics even more than melody.

This brings me to one change in lifestyle and technology over the last ten years that has not necessarily been to the good: the decline in browsing.

Obviously, browsing in the current definition is not in decline; as a matter of fact, I'm sure I waste more time twiddling on my phone or computer than I used to waste in phone conversations or whatever else passed for idleness. No, this browsing was the type we used to do in record shops, especially used ones in Columbia, or more recently, in the music aisles in Borders (always more inclusive with more variety than Barnes & Noble). Before there were earphones to listen to your scanned selections, there were blurbs on the back of the jewel cases. But browsing reached its pinnacle with the advent of scanned CD cases and the ability to hear the first 30 seconds or so of an artist. It was just like asking for the little wooden spoonful of ice cream at a Baskin Robbins, except one didn't have to be waited on. What bliss to find a CD of some singer with just the right combination of voice, rhythm, genre!!! Better than tried and true, better than safe, not sorry...the best of all worlds. If only there had been volume discounts.....

Browsing through a book store was just a bit more risky; not judging a book by its cover is a bromide for a reason. But the sheer volume of authors in a STORE, not a library, was a source of wonder. No doubt we bought way more volumes than we needed, flattered, perhaps, by the suggestion that nearly everything that wasn't "non-fiction" was somehow "literature". Except for mysteries and thrillers, I guess. I do have every intention of reading all those books. Fortunately, my weakness for non-fiction means my dilatory delays don't result in irrelevance. Nothing too timely for me.

Alas, when I attempted to buy CDs for stocking stuffers at Christmas time, the music section was decimated. Lots and lots of DVDs of movies, television series, and so many games. Like the dinosaurs, I have not adapted to the new world order that includes computer, xbox, playstation, etc. games. I barely run a DVD player, though we are big fans of the DVR on our satellite. But no CDs of people I might take a chance on. Little music by artists who are part of the pop/jazz canon. Folks with ten or twelve albums to their credit represented by, maybe, one. I realized I must not be the demographic the music companies are working for.

Fortunately, there is still one way to try out new artists for free; it just doesn't involve a trip to the store where one might also consume a mocha. We take full advantage of Pandora and frequently I find music on my 'Wayne Hancock' channel, for instance, or some piano jazz on 'Oscar Petersen' channel, or someone like Tierney Sutton on 'Jane Monheit'. It takes more concentration, but the opportunities are out there. And there's no doubt itunes are almost instant gratification.

But I worry I am limiting my scope to that with which I am already familiar and already know I like. I'm afraid I am just reinforcing my opinions and my preferences when I hit the 'thumbs up' on the Pandora page. Am I being narrow minded culturally because I no longer take the leap and put good money down on a wild hare?
Or maybe its a moot point until I get the CD player in my car fixed.

1 comment:

  1. But...Lizzie cried last night because I forgot her "Grandma songs"...I thought about buying her another Grandma song CD for Valentines, but perhaps I'd better leave the Grandma music to the expert.....Grandma:)