The way it used to be often times wasn’t all that great.
One of my favourite movies is Inherit the Wind, from 1960. Spencer Tracy plays Henry Drummond (based on legal legend Clarence Darrow), who defends a southern US teacher charged with teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution.
We’re talking 1925. Here’s a clip from the film.
Drummond battles Matthew Harrison Brady (based on William Jennings Bryan) over the right to think versus the fundamentalist views of biblical teachings.
Progress is wonderful, but comes at a cost. Drummond notes that the invention of the telephone resulted in a loss of privacy. Air travel made the birds seem less impressive. In later scene Drummond wanders over to the radio crew broadcasting the trial and, when told that he can’t say “damn” or ‘hell” over the airwaves, says sarcastically, “this is going to be a great source of amusement.”
THE RETURN OF VINYL
As we have been told…like a broken record…vinyl has made a comeback. Music lovers have rediscovered the charms of placing a record on a turntable, and the wonders of album cover art, gate folds and lyric sheets that you don’t need a magnifying glass to read.
I purchased a turntable eight or nine years ago after going many years without one that functioned properly, and after switching to cassettes and later compact discs.
I trumpeted the return of vinyl.
And I haven’t put a record on in months. I always intend to but some push-button technology jumps in the way. Satellite radio is one touch away, as are YouTube videos and my occasional streamings on Spotify and Apple’s Beats1.
My Uncle Lawrence had a huge collection of albums, mostly opera, in immaculate shape. Mom said Uncle Lawrence change the stylus after every play.
Some of my records are in decent shape.
Others are scratched or slightly warped and unless you had a high-end turntable back then, you probably experienced plenty of crackles, skips and…broken records. The needle got stuck in the same groove and you had to physically move it along.
If you derive much pleasure from playing vinyl, I salute you. There are times I would love bring some of the old days back. More live radio instead of voicetracked sameness. Hearing a great new tune on the radio and rushing to buy the disc at Sam the Record Man.
But progress keeps, um, progressing.
Heck. When I started my career in journalism, I used a manual typewriter and my words reached the audience because I was paid to write those articles. My pieces had to be typeset and printed and the publications were delivered, by truck, to those lucky readers. People who paid to subscribe.
Today, with a few clicks, my literary masterpieces instantly land on the Facebook and Twitter feeds of friends and followers who can choose to ignore them.
We live in a different world.
Though, unlike Henry Drummond, I still marvel at the sight of a bird in flight.