I remember being 10, or thereabouts, sitting in front of my parent’s stereo system, entranced by the albums they had collected in college. The system – tuner, turntable, and speakers – was a Craig, cheap, Korean, and dependable, an early indication of where the consumer electronics business was heading. I’d put on the albums they owned – Rachmanioff #2, Man of La Mancha, a lot of Kingston Trio – and listen, right up next to the speaker. I was entirely engaged – the albums were transits to another world, a world of music, no matter that it was entirely inconsistent with the world of a ten year old boy. I’m pretty sure the only new album my parents bought between 1953 and 1983 was the soundtrack to Cats, around the time I was a junior in high school.
But that stereo system, the turntable in particular, was my introduction to recorded music.
Now that entire world is dead, gone, history. 30 years after I was entranced, it’s been eclipsed by the iPod, the cel phone, the Internet.
Fast forward to now. I look around my house, and I find my son’s analog to my parent’s music system. And what is it? In a word: Magazines.
I’m a magazine guy. My wife loves them too. We still subscribe to about a dozen of them, and they are all over the house. In particular, they dominate the bathrooms. As my son ponders his mortality on the porcelain throne or in idle moments in our living room, I wonder about the “music” those magazines are bringing to him.
And I wonder, how is the web bringing that music into the digital age? Just a thought, a note written down. For one thing I am certain of. In thirty years from now, magazines will be the albums of their time – an anachronism created for effect, but not a dominant medium of distribution for the music they contain.
I love having kids.