EXPERIENCE ROCK HISTORY!
1960s and 1970s COUNTER CULTURE
Back in the mid-to-late ’90s 00individual had a righteous career working out of his home studio as an action figure designer and sculptor during the height of the licensing collectible era and listened to CDs constantly from 10AM to near 5AM the next day (slept for 5 hours and got up and did it again for 3 to 4 years straight), it was a righteous hard-working deadline-demanding but lucrative kick-ass job. The obsession with music of all genres continued and was enjoyed every minute.
But the day came when the CD player finally died and before purchasing a new system, 00individual set-up his turntable and placed the first LP selected from his world-class collection, a Sparks’ 1979 classic track, “The Number One Song In Heaven“. Immediately 00individual was engulfed in the extremely full, warm sound of the actual recording of an artist’s vision with no technical deletion of the aesthetic sounds that 00individual could hear that the digital process choose to eliminate – the memories of vinyl filled 00individual with joy. And while CDs were certainly convenient, it took only one track pressed on vinyl to reveal what was missing – it was like seeing/hearing a dear friend again after an overdue absence.
Much has been written about analog versus digital music which won’t be debated here, 00individual knows from obvious personal experience that there is no comparison – I want to hear what the artist recorded.
But back when glorious analog was thee method of listening, the Long Playing (LP) 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) records offered much more than a platter of vinyl encased in thin cardboard – these albums doubled as Portals to the Real Social Network.
Groups of people that we interacted with converged around music with lyrics that really defined our thoughts and had far-reaching effects that extended the already tribal brotherly love we were enjoying.
The shared experience of record listening was a great cultural and social environment, mainly because it became a lifestyle for many of us and therefore human interaction was normal and constant. This in turn fostered confidence, built self-esteem and developed the ability to blend-in and contribute to diverse conversations whether with our brethren or with total strangers.
In the fifties when Rock ‘n’ Roll took off, it was a hard fight at first as it was considered “race” music by the white majority. Rock ‘n’ Roll showed its undefeatable power when the archetypal “American Teenager” bought those records and played them anyway.
Surely many battles were won and lost over Rock back then but the Real Social Network was underway – teens would get together anywhere they could to listen to the latest LPs and 45s – real connections were made with real people.
By the late fifties and early sixties most homes had Hi-Fis (High Fidelity) and “easy listening” turned into Rock ‘n’ Roll when the parents were not around.
By the mid-sixties pre-teens, teens and young adults would have music going on all the time and the introduction of Stereo as opposed to Monaural improved our listening pleasure (that’s debatable to some listening cults) – but it wasn’t until the Counter Culture Hippies of the mid-to-late sixties, who turned the shared record listening experience into a cultural phenomenon, that the Real Social Network took off.
Daily and nightly tribal gatherings in Hippie pads, dorm rooms, and houses were always accompanied by music. Either host’s choice, group agreement or someone would bring a new LP to listen to.
The whole Vinyl Record Listening Culture really took their time to appreciate and absorb not only the music, but information about the band members and the instruments played, where it was recorded, and so on.
After listening to an LP, another would take its place or if impressed or a favorite, we’d play it again. Plus the 12” LP size allowed us to actually see who the artists were and provided some amazing groovy Far-Out Art to enjoy while listening.
Additionally the covers were sacredly used as the plateaus to collect weed residue for the rolling of a joint – and – if adept; the separating of seed from weed. And lastly, sometimes albums would include posters to unfold, stickers, booklets and anything that the record company promotion department thought fit. Groovy!
And woven in and out of the daily adventures that was natural back then, music was always a member of our Tribe; if there were four of us there was really five.
Conversations would brew and the LPs then turned into hip background soundtracks of “heavy” to “hilarious” discussions.
You could tell where someone was at by their album interests and could find kindred spirits through the mutual appreciation of a particular artist or sound. Or debate any and all of the truly amazing music we were blessed with. All the while joints and bowls of hash would be inhaled deeply.
Music was so central to our lives that when we weren’t going to concerts or clubs or listening to the radio or 8 tracks and cassettes in our cars, we would be discussing the bands, band members, their styles and songs. How could we not? All of the major Rock Icons came to be in the sixties; and we were magically caught up in the whole scene.
Now transfer the image of the tribal gathering of music lovers at a Hippie pad, then in rooms of houses throughout neighborhoods, towns, cities, and out across America, UK and beyond and you can see how the shared album experience connected us all.
Eric Clapton commented on the shared album experience scene too in a Rolling Stone article and after sharing pretty much the same info as I just described, he then went on to ask a rhetorical, but relevant question: In today’s Isolated Society, does anyone even share a new or classic CD or DVD with a friend – or with anyone?
With personal downloaded music and ear buds, an entire generation has entered into an encapsulated world of solitude – replacing human interaction with shallow internet interaction like Facebook, Twitter, texting and all forms of digital interaction that efficiently removes the natural development of actual social person-to-person human interaction and contact.
Hey, 00individual’s entrenched in the digital world too, it’s fucking magic! And that’s why I can speak from experience. And because of that, I sincerely feel for all those who will never experience the many real joys surrounding analog music and the very real human “social network” it promoted and provided.
. . .and what will the current and escalating non-“human” interaction society eventually evolve to?
Que sera sera.
“The Number One Song In Heaven” Released as a single in 1979, the song was produced and co-written by famed electro-disco producer Giorgio Moroder. Keith Forsey, drummer on this track and Moroder’s main percussionist, became a highly-successful writer and producer.
Unfortunately, after all of this talk of vinyl, the only version this post has to offer is digital. Sigh.
Here are solid references to those albums and tracks that served as interactive background / foreground soundtracks to The Real Social Network:
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