“What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare. No time to stand beneath the boughs and stare as long as sheep or cows.” (William Henry Davies).
I don’t really have time to think, let alone stand and stare, in the office. So a lot of my thinking is done when I’m out walking. This evening, as Rufus was taking me for a walk, I got the brain kick started and set some braincells firing. As is often the way, my thoughts started off on a completely unrelated track . We’d been talking about eBay in work. eBay was where I bought some of the musical instruments that I used when playing in bands. That got me thinking about music and in particular the album on the mp3 player plugged into my ears. An old album called ‘Olias of Sunhillow’ by Jon Anderson. I remembered when I first heard about the album (it had been released about 5 years before that) and I decided to try and get a copy. There was no online route to buy obscure albums then, so I had to find a way of getting hold of a copy somehow. I ended up purchasing it from Virgin records in London during a school trip a few months later. I can picture myself now, sitting in the back of the minibus on the way home reading the album cover and wondering what it would sound like. With no Internet, there was no way to even listen to a sample.
By the time I got home, it was too late to listen to it, so I had to wait until the following morning. When I finally got it playing on the turntable, headphones on, it was as good as I had hoped. And by that time I had developed high hopes.
And this is my point. I had to work to get that album. It took about 6 months from start to playing the disc. By the time the needle hit the vinyl, the effort had given it a value far above the cash price. I suspect that even had it not been good, I would have liked it. (This happened years later when I got the latest Hawkwind album, after waiting weeks for its release. I loved it then but playing it again several months later I found it wasn’t as good as I had originally thought).
The anticipation made it special.
It got me thinking, now that I can hop online and download or stream a track to a mobile device or PC, does that devalue the product, make it less special? It makes it so much easier to obtain the music, and it does take away the anticipation. Does that affect they way I perceive it?
I have certainly found that music plays a different part in my life now. It has become the background noise to things I do where once listening to music was the thing I did. I don’t listen properly to the music any more. When I got ‘Olias’ I listened to every note, several times over. I still haven’t listened properly to the last album I bought – David Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’. It has been on – in the car and while I’m on the PC – but never while I’m doing nothing but listening. And that’s a shame.
I need to make more time to listen, and to give more value to the music.
“A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.”