Sunday, 19 January 2014

Overload (or the "only listened to it once scenario")

How do you consume music?
It should be a simple process: Buy, Listen, File, Listen Again

There was once a time when buying a new album was an event.  They weren't cheap, and with only paper boys wages I was limited to one (maybe two, at a push) albums a month.
But that one album was a cherished event - I would listen to the album intently, read and remember the sleeve notes, running order, producer, rogue names in the "Thanks to .." section (Iron Maiden often gave thanks to Ruddles Bitter).
Extra paper rounds, and the discovery of a local second hand record shop meant more albums could be added to the collection.  But the ritual remained - listening intently and poring over every detail of the cover and band history.
These albums would be committed to tape, and the headphones clamped to my ears whilst paper-rounding.  The few (increasing in number) albums I owned would eventually become hard wired.
Starting work meant increased income, and therefore more music flowing into my lug-holes.  The Walkman was eventually superseded by the car stereo, but the committing vinyl to tape regime remained the same.  The time spent driving to work meant that a whole album could be consumed in each trip.

Life continues, income rises and more music is purchased.
And then comes the tipping point - the quantity and regularity of purchase means that I now have a collection where some of the albums have only been listened to once.
Sometimes, I can justify this to myself in the case of the following criteria:
  • Albums bought on the strength of one track
  • Albums bought because they were being flogged off cheap on the counter at FOPP or HMV (or wherever)
  • Albums bought because I think I "might" like it
Most of the time, I just feel a slightly uneasy pang of guilt when I stumble across a single played CD.  The internal monologue goes something like: "Well, you bought it so you must've wanted it.  Therefore you should listen to it"

Problem is on-line buying offers such choice.  Its just a case of sit in my chair, stare at the screen and click.  More stuff will be arriving through my letterbox.  More stuff competing for listening time with the pile of stuff I've yet to put away, or indeed even listen to yet.
And Box Sets?  Well, theres another difficulty.  The sheer investment of time required to get through all the box set, means nothing else will be listened to for a time.  And what are the chances of listening to the content of that Box Set again?  Slim, would be my general assumption (although, this is not always the case).

So, maybe this is the future - I will continue to buy stuff, but find less and less time to listen more than once.
Problem is that being slightly fickle, if an album doesn't grab me, or pique some sort of interest on first listen, it could be many weeks, months or even years before I go back to it.
And then when I do return to it, I will spend an inordinate amount of time cursing myself for missing out on it first time round.
Here's a case in point - I recently listened to this for the first time in many years, and was shocked that I've let it gather dust for 20 (!) years, and only giving it a single play.

Rocket From The Crypt - Born In 69 (from the album 'Scream, Dracula, Scream!'):

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