I was listening to the new Coldplay Album on itunes in the office today, and I found out that I inadvertently listened to the songs in the wrong order. This is not a huge event in my life, by any means, but it did bring to mind some of the thoughts I’ve been having about the form of an album. I am a big fan of listening to an entire album, in the order the artist put the songs. I figure that thought went into what songs got on and the order they are in. Also, one song from a particular artist is not usually enough for me – I want to spend some time with an artist, even if they’re just in the background. This is why I don’t listen to a lot of mixes, and why I don’t do shuffle and why I feel guilty about wanting an ipod.
I wonder if the popularity of ipod (especially ipod shuffle) and the ability to buy one song at a time, soon the idea of an album as a whole work will go out the window, and the concept album (one of my favorite ideas) will also be a thing of the past. I think this would be sad. I like the way songs work together in an arc. I like the way it lasts about an hour. I like noticing particular structural details. There are other things I like about buying cds too. I like the trip to the store and holding the thing in your hands, and looking at the art and reading the liner notes. I love liner notes. I sure hope with the coolness and convenience of itunes, we don’t loose the things that are cool about whole albums.
Maybe I’m just a sentimental nerd (well, surely I am, but maybe this idea is particularly over the top). I am aware that a good mix cd (or playlist) is an art, and there are some mix cds I love dearly and DO listen to. So probably the shuffle music culture and the album music culture can coexist in, uh, harmony. But that’s just something I’ve been thinking about.