A wise woman once told me: a loss of a thing creates space for a thing to be gained. There have been tremendous gains and losses for the average music listener in quality, variety and especially in accessibility. Listening to music has become a more immediate and personal experience and this process has stripped away layers of curation. Intermediating layers of others’ preferences and choices are no longer as dense or normative as in the past.
When I was about six riding in my dad’s truck running errands in the countryside of Iowa he was tuning in the a.m. radio as we drove thru the spring sunshine. He found a local station. This was 1971. The announcer in a slow drawl said, “Up next, Buddy Holly.” My Dad in a rare aside to me said, “This is music, son.” My father rarely spoke to me. Buddy Holly’s “That’ll be the Day!” came on thru the static and rushing windows. One side of my Dad’s smile tensed upwards. This song meant something to him. Buddy Holly was followed without a pause or pre-amble by Pasty Cline’s “Crazy.”
One tear hung in my father’s crows’ feet on the side that I could see, as he stared straight at the road. He pulled off the country road and into a diner. We ordered fries, BLTs and soda. The diner had jukeboxes at every booth. I stood on the booth and scrolled through the titles. I saw names I recognized, Johnny Cash was the one I knew best. I begged a quarter and played “Ring of Fire,” “A Boy named Sue,”and Cline’s “Crazy.” He didn’t see the third choice. He tapped his fingers to the first two. “A Boy Named Sue” made me giggle in my soda. When “Crazy” came on, he put on his shades and paid the bill. There was no radio played for the rest of the day. That next summer I fell in love with Don McLean’s “American Pie”and wore out the 45; at the end the sound was so bad I had to press my ear against the record player. Continue reading