Whether you realize it or not, clocks and watches are not the only way we measure time, and the way we measure time is changing. It always has been. We just never noticed it.
Back when cassette tapes were about the only means of playing music, and even then they were endangered species, but we didn’t realize it, time was measured by how long half the cassette lasted. Whatever we were doing would be interrupted by the end of side one, and we would stop and flip the tape over, or change music, or have an endless debate as to what to play next. And it was glorious.
Then CDs came in and an entire album could be listened to, and there was some debate as to what to call a collection of music. A tape was a tape, and a disc was a disc, but an album was vinyl. Album became an old word with a new meaning, no matter what the music was played on, it was an album.
But that debate wasn’t long for this earth, either. Suddenly, with digital music, playlists became the thing, and playing an album wasn’t as popular anymore. Suddenly, there wasn’t an end to the music. Literally, you would have a playlist longer than you could stay awake.
There was a time when you could be alone on the road, listening to a radio that might, or might not, pick up a decent station, and whatever was being played by some random guy who was a disc jockey, was what you got. It might have been a terrible song, it might have been a decent song, but every once in a while, it would be your jam, a song you hadn’t heard in years, and your life would be totally transformed for three and a half minutes. The accidental music you ran into at odd times was one of life’s wonderful moments.
You could hear a song, not know who sang the song, not know the title of the song, and you were totally screwed unless you could sing it back to someone who knew the song. You could die at one hundred and ten years old and not ever know. Now, you can Google the station and a time, and find a song, if you were actually listening to a radio station.
Or go on social media, give the Hive Mind three words from any song, and someone out there is your Huckleberry.
I’m listening to “Life’s Rich Pageant” by the group REM while I’m writing this. Once upon a time, we listened to the tape over and over again, and it seemed like each side of the tape lasted a long time. Now, the entire album has played. It doesn’t seem that long anymore.
The lyrics never really made that much sense to us, but we liked the music.
Life is like that.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit.
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