In my hands I'm holding a 45-rpm, 7-inch record.
To most people this wouldn't mean much, but to me this is very special.
It was initially going to be an operation of going through and finding good one shots and drum loops to record and dismantle, then reassemble as something anew. I was discontented going through the digitised libraries of drum samples libraries that inhabited my computer. Itís true, donít blame the tools, but the userÖ but everything sounded so sterile, so dissident from anything resembling a soul. All the samples were for a lack of a better word Ďphatí. Over processed, having grandiose reverbs and unnatural amounts of compression or saturation to make them seem bigger than they really are.
In search of samples for an old school break beat I asked dad to have a look through his collection of old 45ís. I went through picking tracks that were commonly known or possibly funk when dad came through. He sifted through his treasures of old, commenting on them, reminiscing and telling me stories of them or the tunes within them. There seemed to be a spoken story of the track in which he told and one you could see in his eyes as it took him back to his younger days.
Everyone was asleep at this point so I moved through to the lounge with my beloved Sennheiserís and a stack of half a dozen or so records. Carefully removing each lacquered black vinyl disc out of the sleeve and on to the player, listening through, checking songs content against my original mission. The earliest dated to 1967, dad would have been 10 at the time, and it was some Surfer Dan, similar to The Beach Boys with a common theme, the beach.
Taking a trip further down to 1974 was The Doobie Brothers, Song to See You Through. This song hit hard, the lyrics werenít important although I could gather the gist of it, just the sound. The pops, clicks and flutter morphed into the background in the previous few tracks but still remained ever present, the upbeat melody of the Doobieís bopping along. In these records werenít just songs but memories, a past, these were well-loved tunes and if dadís face was anything to go by, are still very loved, to the level of being precious. Forty plus odd years down the track, they didnít get lost, broken or biffed into a trash.
Everything now seems so temporary, so fleeting. Songs are released as fast as they are forgotten, and if they are remembered itís not usually for a good reason. Things are downloaded, thrown on MP3 players and burnt to cheap disposable discs, so easily accessible that they arenít worth the effort of looking after. It seems long gone is the age of rummaging through the crates for that one tune.
However in this basket, every 7-inch plate was pressed and cut in New Zealandís own. Thereís a sense of inherent pride to it, it wasnít just a contract sold to the cheapest contractor in Asia. Someone in the country took the time to cut each disc and so we had music, being a smaller nation thatís something thatís seen less and less nowadays as all work seems to be done off shore.
This is not xenophobia but each year it seems less and less our country and I feel more and more distant to the world and those who inhabit it despite modern travel and communication, both physically and metaphorically bringing us closer than ever. But music, something both Dad and I have a passionate love and respect for seems more of a diversion, now people just seem to have it on as opposed to sitting down and taking the time to really listen to it. Itís being taken for granted, the majority are satisfied with what theyíre given as opposed to scratching deeper than the surface and delving into the amazing, very vast world of art out there.
And so I put the disc carefully back into the paper sleeve then basket, preserving it for another play. Will this happen with music of our generation or will it all just end up buried in the music business and competing loudness wars? Whenís the last time youíve truly taken time out to appreciate music? Just sitting there and listening? I remember not too long ago listening to CDs through headphones in my darkened room around midnight and going to be at 3 or 4 in the morning just because timeís slipped past as it was the least important thing.
Everyoneís rushing about, for what Iím not quite certain and so I leave this last message with you, a plead if you will. Please take the time to slow down and appreciate the world around you, donít do things out of habit just because they always have been done. Music has been such a big part of my life, Iím no musician but itís always been a constant passion and a powerful anti-depressant at my lowest of lows. If you havenít taken the time as of late, or ever, music is the one thing Iíd like to share with you all, as tonight, my old man has shared it with me.