Watching the kids this week, it occurred to me that something has been lost. Something our generation treasured. Simply, it was listening to music together.
I watched the kids walk by with their Ipods and other PLDs (personal listening devices) plugged into their ears. Alone in the sound.
Kids listen to music while alone today. Sure, they hear music as a group when 50,000 of them go to a concert, but in truth, in those situations, they hear neither the music nor one another.
We listened to music together. We nattered about it. The record bar, as it was called, was a small corner of a department store, where we could gather as a pubescent group and listen to a record, at no charge, while practicing flirting. Hamburger joints had juke boxes and we would wait, six or more in a group, until some guy fed a quarter for four songs and then we would call out requests. Remember the chant ( Aw c'mon, play D5). We would ride, six of us, in a friend's car ( 52 Studebaker) and a song would come on the radio. Somebody would shout. " I like this song, turn it up!" The driver would say " hey man, you're blowing my speaker! ( Speaker, as in singular, there were no plural speakers in 52 Studs). Or sometimes, in teenage exuberance, we would dole out 85 cents ( a fortune) for a new 45 and call our our friends to come over and listen to our new Ricky Nelson record. We played it 17 times. In the basement. Our parents would finally yell "Turn down that noise!"
That's all gone. Today, music and earwax are all part of the same experience for a 14 year old. Maybe it doesn't matter. But I'm glad I was there then.