iGeneration

I think it is the combination of being cheap and stubborn that has kept me from updating my iLife with more iTechnology. While these white rectangles of wonder are tempting and hard to escape, I have managed to come this far surviving on tangible music: music that comes in a compact disc or vinyl that I can hold in my hand and, yes, scratch, if I don’t hold it carefully. It was with the inception of the iPod Shuffle when I transformed from just being too cheep to buy the latest technology to conscientiously boycotting iPods and other MP3 players. Let me state, for the record, that I have previously owned, and still have in my possession, a Zen Creative MP3 player, which a former friend convinced me to buy during a financially comfortable time in my life. After uploading hours of albums onto this large, 3gig device (it wasn’t smaller than an entire wallet, let alone a credit card), the technical difficulties commenced: only when squeezed shut did the little devil work, and the second pressure was not applied, it automatically shut off and I automatically packed CDs with me on long car rides. As an music fan, there is nothing I would rather do, save buying new CDs, than take my plastic compact friends for a long drive and listen to them from start to finish, intro to outro, as the artist had intended. Monet’s “Water Lillies” looks much better as a complete canvas than as pieces of a whole, taken separately. This is how albums work when the artist treats them as a final piece of art. Track number five was placed between four and six for a reason. And while it might not be your favorite on the album, it works; it communicates with every other track on the album in an aurally pleasing symbiosis. It is largely due to the iPod and iPod Shuffle that my generation has ceased listening to entire albums, and they will prevent younger generations from ever having done so. Once uploaded onto the Shuffle, the select songs are ones that the listener likes, the “best of” collection of the listener’s downloaded albums. Was that Modest Mouse album not upbeat enough for you? Then take the liveliest tracks and run with it (literally). Feeling down? Every album has a slow ballad, pick your poison. Can’t get that one tune out of your head? Be sure it’s on your shuffle…throw in the live recording for good measure. When a person decides to be an upstanding member of society and pays for their music via iTunes, the songs are priced individually or by album. But are people buying albums online as often as they used to buy in person? Or do they figure $.99 is a great deal for 3 minutes of entertainment? If my painting metaphor was not clear, buying one song from an album is like buying one page from a book, or one scene from a movie. In this case, merely buying “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” could be comparable to buying the part in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when Hunter S. Thomson drives through “bat country.” Taken separately, they are both entertaining. However, out of context, they go no further than mere entertainment. This all explains my reasoning for urging, to the point of being obnoxious, friends to buy albums (whether in a record store or, if need be, online). Hopefully I’m not the only music junkie out there who gets excited over an albums liner notes and who knows what an “eject” button is.