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‘Turkey’s hypnotic classical music’ is just a phone swipe away

Mark Rutledge 2
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Mark Rutledge


By Mark Rutledge

Saturday, November 3, 2018

One of my daughters did not get the record player she wanted for Christmas last year, which sounds more like a holiday disappointment from my generation.

She wanted a record player equipped with Bluetooth technology so that she could play her downloads as well as records.

“But you don’t own any records,” I said.

“I’m going to buy some,” she insisted.

The girl is an old soul. She reads old books and prefers an antique bed, and I love that about her. But she was born too late to start building a record collection and get the full experience. There might be some vintage vinyl stores around, but none within walking distance.

I have a decent record collection that lives in Jimmy Edgeworth’s basement. He’s the only friend I know of who still maintains an operational turntable.

I built my collection during the 1970s from walking to the record store and buying one album at a time. By driving age, we were into 8-tracks and cassettes, thus beginning the downward spiral of record stores.

My ’70s friends and I had these bulky machines in our bedrooms called stereo systems. Mine was quadrophonic — meaning that every corner of the bedroom hosted a large speaker. At full throttle, they could rattle windows next door.

Walking to the mall and buying a just-released album from a popular rock band could ensure that your circle of friends was going to hang out at your house for at least a couple of days. Buying and listening to a new album was an event.

To stay in good playing condition, records needed cleaning before each play. More often than not we allowed the needle to travel across every song, good or bad. Digital listening allows one to instantly arrow to the next song.

That’s a lot of what’s wrong with digital listening. It’s overly instant.

All of this came to mind recently when I started listening to music through my totally uneventful cellphone. I’ve done this before, but the old playlist I’d set up died with the old phone.

This time around, I’m trying out an online music service. I’m playing it through a wireless speaker that’s incredibly crisp and powerful despite being the size and shape of a hamburger. No matter the sound quality, listening to music on a phone can sharply diminish the overall experience. Especially in the car.

For one thing, driving and navigating the controls of an online music service is unsafe at any speed. One must set the playlist and resist the urge to arrow to the next song.

The service I’m sampling allows one to either listen to a “radio station” that plays only a desired genre or to instantly download and listen to whatever album comes to mind.

I found it instantly disappointing because I cannot instantly think of a great album without flipping through a stack of album covers. And the radio stations offer just about every style of music except bluegrass or old-time.

I love rock and jazz and country and polka as much as anyone, but really? Someone has created entire online radio stations around genres as obscure as “Turkey’s hypnotic classical music,” but no “Turkey in the Straw?”

Jimmy, I’ll be needing my old albums back. Santa Claus is coming to town with that new record player this year.

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.