From vinyl to what? Or the problems with listening to music

Published 3:23 pm Friday, February 9, 2007

I love music, all kinds of music and especially jazz, but like many music lovers, especially those who once fondly collected vinyl discs and carefully guarded them against scratching, I can’t figure out what to do today to listen to some of my favorite music.

This quandary isn’t new for me. I was slow to get a compact disc player and begin replacing vinyl with plastic. I had already experienced how unreliable 8-track and cassettes were. Old vinyl, with all its imperfections, was better than those two formats, except when it came to portability.

When the compact discs first came out, I expected they would last about as long as 8-track tapes and tape players did, which was not very long at all. Soon after CDs appeared on the scene, though, I couldn’t find music recorded on vinyl and went into musical hibernation for a while.

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Cassette tapes began disappearing shortly thereafter and I was stuck. I really didn’’t trust the compact disc craze to last very much longer. Finally, I broke down and bought a compact disc player for the home. The truck I drive came with one in it.

So what has happened in the short time since I caved in? A lot, none of which I understand and have great difficulty in figuring out how to use the new devices now appearing on the music playing scene.

Compact discs are still there and I have bought a whole lot of them. However, now some things called the I-Pod and the MP-3 players have arrived on the scene. Cars and trucks are now coming from the factory equipped to play MP-3 formatted discs.

Owners of these devices, if I understand it all correctly, can use their I-Pods or their MP-3 players to download music from the Internet. My son Will Patrick tried to set up my computer so that I can listen to music over it, not from streaming radio stations, but by selecting a preferred musical format and who ever is out there running the music would send my preferred sounds to me.

I haven’t used it since he and Michelle went back to Miami after Christmas. I can’t figure out how and he told me before he left that it may cost me some money. All I wanted was for him to help me set up KKJZ and Margariettaville radio so I could listen to one or the other as the mood struck me.

My son decided to improve on my requests and now I am confused. I will have to try to figure out how to get the radio stations on my own.

My daughter Katie wasn’t able to come down at Christmas but had been here before with her husband Brad. She had an I-Pod, he an MP-3 player. On their trip down, she had decided that she liked his less expensive MP-3 player a lot better than her I-Pod and was planning to sell the I-Pod and buy an MP-3 player. I don’t know the difference, but I’m no fan of Apple so it makes some sense to me.

While they were here, they loaded on to a series of compact discs the music they had on the MP-3 player that they knew I would like — and advised me to get an MP-3 player. They assured me I will like it better than compact discs.

My friend Rick from the coffee group has advised me to replace the dying compact disc player in my truck with an MP-3 player. He can load up a lot of music for me and I won’’t have to change discs nearly as often, he says.

Another friend called Wednesday night and asked if I had the new Norah Jones album yet. I don’t, but I have the new Jimmy Buffett album and he doesn’t. His son has taught him how to copy discs, so he is going to take both the Norah Jones disc and the Jimmy Buffett disc and copy them so we will each have one each.

He’s converting to MP-3 soon, he said. His son is helping him with that, also. I guess this means that soon I will have to get an MP-3 player.

I wonder what is about to make it obsolete, just as it is slowly driving the compact disc into obsolescence? Will it confuse me more than everything since the cassette tapes have confused me? I suspect so.

I just wish some of these people coming up with these new devices would remember that some of us are not so enamored with being able to tickle all this new technology and that they would make some of the devices simple enough even for those of us who are technologically challenged to use.

I keep reading that vinyl may be coming back because it has qualities that can’t be matched with the newer players. I can’t imagine what those qualities are, but I’m waiting with bated breath for vinyl records and the old-fashioned stereo systems to come back. I understand them. Also, I have a lot of old vinyl records I can’t listen to because I can’t find a needle for my record player.

I suspect, however, I better take the advice of my children and friends and go ahead and get one of these new-fangled MP-3 players so I can listen to my music when the compact discs become obsolete. Think maybe they’ll come back before they become obsolete or will that happen at some distant date when someone decides they have qualities that what ever the then current music play doesn’t have?

Yes, I’m confused.