Known Johnson

June 22, 2008

The more things change, the stay the same

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 9:53 am

One of the great things about buying used music is that sometimes you find something inside that gives a little bit of history to the product. Just yesterday, I picked up a very cheap, used copy of Roy Orbison’s last album of new music, Mystery Girl (which could almost be called Roy Orbison And The Heartbreakers from the extensive use of Tom Petty’s backing band, along with Tom Petty himself on a number of tracks, but it also features prominent cameos from a number of big names – George Harrison, Bono and The Edge, T-Bone Burnett, Ian Wallace (of King Crimson, no less,) Mitchell Froom, and a whole bunch more on a list that begins to spiral into relative obscurity for most people but means a lot to music geeks like me.) It’s a sweet album – “California Blue” is worth the price alone, and Bono/The Edge’s “She’s a Mystery to Me” is pretty great too.

Inside the booklet this morning I found the receipt from the first purchaser, one Lorraine …*, complete with credit card transaction, from July 6, 1989, at Tower Records, and credit card number. (Check inside your CDs before you get rid of them, kids. I’m sure this one is long inactive, but you never know.) What really got me was the receipt. On it are two CDs, one pop, one oldies (and I’m really not sure which one this falls under.) One is prices $13.99, the other $14.99. This is 1989 we’re talking about, and these were likely on sale (I’m guessing the Orbison was, being a recent release, and knowing Tower). I regularly buy CDs today for that and more. Granted, this was Tower we’re talking about, but still, this indicates why things are the way they are today: CD prices should have been lower today than they were back then, being a relatively new technology and all. And yet we may actually pay more than that now. And that’s just stupid. But that’s how things are – the industry knew they could get away with it because what choice did we have? But now we have choices – crappy as they may be, people are choosing to live with awful sounding mp3s and Itunes downloads. I can’t say I blame most people, I guess, given that most people view popular music as pretty much throwaway music, but I won’t ever fully understand this, just like I don’t understand people spending thousands of dollars on big surround sound systems and a huge HDTV so they can watch Deal Or No Deal. Priorities seem to be screwed up, but I think it’s more that those industries have taught us that “home theater” is what we need to be spending money on right now, not “home/car audio.” That too will come around again, just you watch, and then the music industry will be having a field day with everyone replacing mp3s that sound on those systems like VHS looks on a 52″ HD screen.

*The more I thought about it, the more I realize that if someone Googled themselves and found some random dumb blog post with their name on it, talking about having their credit card number, they might feel paranoid. Identity is now protected, but you shouldn’t expect it, Lorraine! Don’t worry with me, however, your finances are safe with me, at least.

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