Monday, 15 March 2010

Offline analogue nostalgia blues

I am most probably addicted to the Web, but there is a part of me which misses the pre-Internet era when sharing music with friends involved a lot of time, effort and thought. I often made cassette compilations for old friends, new-found possible friends with a common interest, people in need of education or conversion to this or that artist/style, and women I was interested in. It was an expression of self: "This is what I think is good, you need to hear it, and I have made the effort to make this for you, to curate a collection of songs which will hopefully change your view of the world, or at least make you smile."

It was a time-consuming labor of love, often involving hand-written notes and bespoke cover art, very different from the instant gratification/commoditization of information sharing we experience online today. Not that the modern experience is entirely a bad thing, quite the opposite. Can you remember being interested in a certain topic and having to go to the local library to do research and deal with things like microfilm, microfiche, and The Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature? If you can't, count yourself lucky. It was exceedingly painful. It was a world where access to information was, comparatively, incredibly constrained, and if you didn't experience it first-hand, you really can't imagine what it was like, which was bad in retrospect, but felt positively Space Age back then. (Makes one wonder what our children will think about our fancy Interwebs of their childhood when they're our age.)

Anyway, back to music. I made many compilations for friends/possible friends/converts/possible girlfriends back in that age, and I also received many. My friend and bandmate Robert Fordyce, who moved to New York not long before I moved to London in 1995, and I were kind of fed up with "pop" music in the early/mid 90s, and so we spent a lot of time sitting around listening to modern jazz, "world" music, and 20th Century Classical music and other weird, off-road audio, and he made me four cassettes of the 20th Century masters, each with its own humorous caricature of the composer. Many years ago, my erstwhile wife took the covers and framed them. I recently was reunited with them as I unpacked upon moving into my new flat.

They are:

Igor Stravinsky, aka "Pimpin' Igor"

Pimpin' Igor (Stravinksy)

Bela Bartok, whose strapline is "Don't Worry, be Happy." I love it.

Don't worry, be happy! - Bela Bartok

Charles Ives, who, as the text states, won the Pulitzer Prize for music, but declined it.

Charles Ives, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for music, which he declined

Arnold Schoenberg, my favorite of the group, and an oblique reference to the album "A Lot of People Would Like to See Armand Schaubroeck... Dead," which our friend and bandmate Jeff Green from The Grundies owned.

A lot of people would like to see Arnold Schoenberg... DEAD!

Thank you, Bob. I continue to treasure these drawings. They make me smile whenever I see them, so mission accomplished, still after 16 years or so.

1 comment:

Simon C said...

Those are totally awesome! But I kinda miss microfiche, index volumes, and ladders on wheels in libraries - the sense of search scope and power was clearly palpable. (All the library books in the COUNTY that were measured ONLY THREE YEARS ago, in natty WHITE-on-BLUE sans serif with a FOCUS control - w00t!) A google search box is awfully bland.