Back in the old days, there was actually effort involved in selecting an album or tape to listen to. We couldn’t carry our entire music collection around on a device the size of a Tic-Tac box, but thinner. We couldn’t create a playlist to automatically skip the crap songs. Skipping a song on the album or tape was a major pain in the ass. Even though as a high school DJ I did have the 6th sense that allowed me to stop fast forwarding a cassette tape at precisely the right place to start the desired song, I never did it. You listened to the album in sequence, the way the artists put it to together. That meant that that you heard the crappy songs just as often as you heard the good songs. That meant you heard Beth every time you played Destroyer, or Revolution #9 every time you played The White Album.
And that was the penalty. You had to take the bad with the good. Too much bad on an album and it got moved to the back of the milk crate and was never heard again. One or two good songs on an album simply wasn’t worth the pain of listening to the dreck that came with it.
I think kids today are losing something by not listening to entire records as the artists put them together. Beyond not getting the context that the artists were going for with the songs, millions of bong or alcohol induced late night debates about music aren’t happening because kids today have no opinion on Led Zeppelin’s worst song. They don’t even listen to the bad songs. If they are even listening to Led Zep they are almost certainly skipping Stairway to Heaven.
Even though I went digital with music a long time ago, I rarely use random play and I rarely skip around the songs. I pick an album and listen to it all the way through.
Don’t even get me started on mix tapes, that is a whole ‘nother subject, and one we’ve covered here before. Hopefully by including the word the related posts feature will link to them.
Edit: Well, that didn’t work. Here is the mix tape post I was hoping would get picked up automatically.
Inspired by this article, but I just couldn’t go with it when Huey Lewis was the example album.