Saturday, August 22, 2009

"This next song is the first song on our new album"

The latest Spin has an article on Cheap Trick titled "This Next Page Is the Last Page In Our New Magazine." It references the line "this next song is the first song on our new album" from Cheap Trick's Live In Budokan, which the Beastie Boys sampled on Check Your Head. That line was iconic when I was in college. When you said it, everyone knew what it came from. Most of my friends had spent time with Check Your Head, so when we quoted it, everyone knew what you were talking about. In turn, the Beastie's had spent enough time with Cheap Trick's Live at Budokan that they could reference it in their album, and a lot of people would understand where the line came from.

I'm not sure the same thing could be said today. There is so much more music available now, and people don't have as much time or inclination to sit with an album long enough to really absorb it. That same snippet from Live At Budokan would go by at 100 miles an hour to a contemporary listener, immediately forgotten under the crush of new albums, new songs, new experiences, all half-listened to and half-experienced while multitasking (which is another way of saying "doing many things badly at once").

The flip side of this is that it is a lot easier to be exposed to a lot of different kinds of music. I've probably heard more music in the last 8 months than I did during my entire high school years. Of course, I knew my record collection inside and out when I was 17: every chord, every lyric, the track order, everything. Now I know the first five seconds of whatever is on my Ipod, because that's how long I listen to it before I decide I want to move on to something else. Maybe less is more. Maybe more is more.

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