Blog album advocacy

Albums- -greater than the sum of the parts.


This week I’m blogging under a different hat. Don’t get me wrong, I could lather on and on about the book release but I’m sure you could use a fresh topic.

So let’s look at the new world of music. Isn’t it strange that single songs can be downloaded? Spotify and I-Tunes and the rest of them make me shake my head. Okay, okay, on the one hand, lots of people are getting their original music played, and though albums are sometimes downloaded, too, I keep wondering if digital distribution of music is killing the concept of what a music album can be.

If you’re listening to single songs, a whole bunch of them strung together consecutively by different artists or even from different genres, you’ve succeeded in making your own compilation. This probably works fine for background music and shouldn’t offend my sensibilities more than a multi-disk CD player set to “random” mode, but somehow it does.

At least when you’re using the CD player, you bought or were given the CD. Yes, a small fee is also paid for some single song digital downloads, but with albums, to fall back on a cliché, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. If it’s a good album, anyway. Good albums develop themes and explore those themes through song order, varying tempos, careful instrumentation, different voices, etc. The listener comes away with a more complete experience, especially when time is taken to sit still and listen to the album all the way through without fiddling with a Smart Phone or otherwise being distracted. Yes, you can have a drink of water (or whatever).

Albums deserve respect. Songs are carefully selected, artwork and photos are agonized over, liner notes are edited to be concise and informative. As a bonus, a lyric sheet might be included to save you from singing embarrassingly wrong words.

If you haven’t done this for a while, now might be a good time to tune in an album and tune out the rest of the noise. Think of it as an easy way to time travel, back to that simpler and more satisfying world that Boomers like me claim we miss. Extra credit for vinyl and the means to play it.

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