Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Album is Dead

I am sure you know it. It has been happening for some time now. Slowly but surely the album as an art form, has died. I mourn its passing deeply. On the other hand, perhaps its is not a dead art form-but rather, much of the population is ceasing to view it in such a way or care.Today, it is most important to merely download specific songs. Not to experience the album itself.

I know in my music listening experience, that there were songs on let's say Queen's Night at the Opera that I did not specifically care for-at first. It was only through the excitement of listening to a new album all the way through repeatedly that the seemingly uninteresting song like "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon" would grow on me. It was never my favorite song or even my favorite album necessarily but I can say that "Bohemian Rhapsody" seemed so much better when I listened to the whole album. The anticipation of hearing specific songs would build so that they were so much better once I had to mull through the least favorites of the album.

I mention Queen, also because you could tell that the way in which they compiled their songs on an album was not willy nilly. It was artfully done. I know that Queen was of an era that included bands like Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, and Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life. It was the Golden Age of the album when you think about it. Having said that, most of the work in a carefully crafted album should be highly personal and what the artist is presenting is more fully realized in a specific order (for the most part). Who buys only one chapter of a novel or one portion of a photograph or painting? Its not to say art is not beautiful in its individual parts. I can appreciate beautiful writing by reading one chapter of a novel or see the beauty in one portion of a painting yet I think its quite obviously lacking when its presented in small portions.

Personally, I relied on albums for consistency and predictability during some difficult teenage years. If you have ever seen the movie Welcome to the Dollhouse, you have some perspective as to what my life was like at the age of thirteen. School was hell on earth, home was crazy with recently divorced parents and of course my dog died and it was one of my earliest experiences with death. So with all these changes occurring, I knew I could rely on the order of the songs on the album to sooth my spirit. Probably the album I listened to most at the time was The Beatles St. Pepper. Had The Smiths been around then, I probably would have been really into it. Then again, its partially the reason I got into The Smiths in the first place.

I always appreciated the artfully crafted Smiths albums (of course).

I don't think I have any more to say on the death of the album-except that I miss them. I miss not having the option to download one track at a time.

Happy Easter! May the album rise again!

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