(Let’s Not) Go Crazy

Middle-age is a great teacher. Like a light switch has flipped. My taste for groups I once obsessed about has ceased. I feel free. Open. Unfortunately the young generation has been trapped into the never-ending selling of a now bygone era.

Classic Rock is the brand stuck to the music released in the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s. The groups/artists that make up that time are old. But they are intent on playing for you if you will pay the exorbitant prices of $90—$500 a seat in a basketball/hockey arena near you. With or without a record to sell, people are going regardless of who is left from original line-ups.

Thinking back on when it began for me….

Since my childhood in the 1970’s the long-playing record or L.P. that rotates at 33 1/3 per minute on a turntable was the only format. There were also 45’s or singles that had 2 songs on them. The A side was the hit; the B side was a song from the same record or a unreleased song that was only available on this 7 inch disc.

The compact disc came along in the mid 1980’s. Bands were expected to make longer albums. In general, longer recordings are not favored by most. Double-albums were shunned by labels due to the difficulty of marketing such releases. The industry went through contractions of big sellers and flops.

That is until our current time when every famous artist of the 20th century has had their demos, radio specials, and other rarities released. The record biz became obsessed with keeping their cash cow, rock music of the 70’s and 80’s, producing revenue for a dying industry.

Most bands stay together 10 years if their lucky. Perhaps 4 albums in their respective catalogs are classics. The business of keeping the hit sellers on top into perpetuity seems to be the end game.

Today there are many hit makers. The middle-aged classic rock mob derides a lot of them. The sad truth is they are unable to let go of their favorites, now oldies. If only people would make space for what is going on today the vinyl record format might return to its former glory at $9.99 a piece.

The concert and artist merchandise has become the main source of income for labels and musicians. The digital downloads of the 21st century have trained the young and old alike to stop buying physical units of music.

I was too young to attend concerts in the 1970’s. The 1980’s was my time. There were plenty of great record stores. In 1982, I remember getting the new releases from Billy Squier, Queen, Iron Maiden and the debut of Men At Work. I loved coming of age during that time. I had some sense that it was special. Records were $9.99 a piece. Concerts were $25—$30. The classic rock canon was still being compiled.

In 1984 Billy Joel at the Garden was $15 for every seat in the house. You had to mail in for the tickets. I got 4 tickets for less than a concert today. Mr. Joel was still in his prime. Today, his fans are spending 4 times this amount to see him in old age. No new records are being made. Nevertheless he is now a franchise playing an ad nauseum open until death run of shows.

I cannot go crazy for this trend of expensive 2 hour events. I am guilty of still being a listener of music. My tastes have changed recently. After a few upcoming shows I will retire from concerts. I will still attend more intimate shows. The rock era is really over.

The next step on keeping old players on stage are holograms! This summer has 2 major hologram tours of literally dead artists. Spoiler, it’s Frank Zappa and Dio.

This brings me to Record Store Day, created primarily to get young people into vinyl records. The event has brought back live recordings, many of which are over priced, back into the spotlight.

I avoid the crowds and lines. I go late morning. As a grown-up I will not wait for hours in lines after which I may or may not get the record I want. I got my first blues record. It’s a new start anyway….at a reasonable price.

This documentary by The Sex Pistols tells of an industry bent on greed.
Neighborhood record store of the 20th Century.

Thank you for reading! More to come….

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