Thursday, August 09, 2007

Groovy music--without the actual grooves.

I finally did it. I made my first iTunes music purchase. And my second and third, and now my fourth (as I type this--oops, it's done).

So I've made one more step into the world where "digital," "virtual," "online" and "download" represent concepts so commonplace that the original nomenclature is already approaching obsolescence, like "radiotelephone," "automobile" and "jet airliner." Like Mr. Burns on "The Simpsons"...or Austin Powers' nemesis Dr. Evil ("laaay-serrrr")...people will soon show their age by how they use (or misuse) these terms.

And if anything on the above list makes you think of the Steve Miller Band instead of a type of "aeroplane," it still doesn't mean you're not old.

On the other hand, some terms are still useful and current even in this brave new paradigm. That first purchase I made, Bob Bennett's collection called "Matters of the Heart," is called an "album" even on the iTunes store. My understanding is it originally referred to the "book" that contained a set of records (made of vinyl or something similar)--a set because the higher rotation speeds (78 rpm) necessitated more discs. That package resembled a photo album and so the term came to mean a collection of songs released as a set, with a specific identity, cover art, etc., even though it may be on a single disc in a sleeve as most records came to be. The term survived the advent of cassettes and CD's and is now unrelated to the actual medium, at least for most of us.

But the important thing is the music, not the medium...and Bob Bennett's "Matters of the Heart" album is a classic that has aged well in the decades since its release. It was named "Album Of The Year" by CCM Magazine in 1982, and was later named one of the "Top 20 Christian Albums Of All Time." Bob hasn't had the fame (or notoriety) of more widely-known artists (even in the small pond of CCM) but then that's seldom an indication of enduring quality or relevance (usually the opposite). He's one of my top songwriting heroes, and his music has nourished my soul and spirit more than that of anyone else I can think of.

I also bought his subsequent release, "Non-Fiction." Both fit nicely on a single 80 MB CD so I burned them onto one disc--I haven't turned my back on the past THAT much; I have no iPod and the only time I listen to music on a computer is on the job via my Mac workstation, mostly playing CD's through iTunes (a transitional approach, I suppose). Instead of printing the cover art directly from iTunes (nice feature!), I saved it as pdf's so I could combine the covers into one, then print it. A significant upgrade from cassettes (one recorded from the LP) I'd been using up to now for these works.

More good news is that Bob's first album "First Things First" by ordering directly from him. This stuff is just too good to leave behind.

I'm just a man in a world full of men just like me
With a heart full of questions and answers
That seem to be somewhat connected
And a head full of preconceived notions
That manage to get in the way

And I find myself longing to return
Back to the place where I started
Back when I knew next to nothing
Back to the heart
Back to the heart of the matter
To the heart of the matter

Bob Bennett, "Heart of the Matter" from "Matters of the Heart" (available on iTunes)

P.S.: My other two online purchases were a Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 greatest hits album and Pat Metheny's "Still Life (Talking)." My mom had Brasil '66, Herb Alpert...stuff I thought was completely boring then (other than the cover art for "Whipped Cream"), but now I think they're the coolest (daddy-o). For me it brings to mind images of Peter Sellers and tiny Italian cars and women in sunglasses and scarves, with dialogue ever-so-slightly out of synch with the visuals, in all those films I was vaguely aware of but only saw much later on TV or on video (how many Pink Panther movies were there, anyway?).

I may be tempted to decorate my apartment in earthtones, sit around in a Nehru jacket and spout poetry now...but I'll take my chances. You're only young once, you know.


Amanda said...

so lemme get this straight.... you finally ventured into the digital world of itunes, only to by OLD music??!! "You're Killing me smalls!"

Mark Kelly Hall said...

Yes, this irony occurred to me as well but my post was too long as it was to bring it up. But I'm probably typical. Do you think most people want only new releases on new media? Cassettes...VHS...DVD?

When CD's came out people were buying new & old music like crazy so the music industry looked like a good investment to the big companies and they bought the labels now it's driven by the demands of showing shareholders profit on quarterly earnings as much as anything else.

Besides, these kids today...whadda they know about music!

Bob Bennett said...

Well you may have purchased OLD MUSIC, but some of us appreciate it a lot! Thanks, Bob.