The first album I ever owned was Anticipation by Carly Simon. I wore out the cardboard of the aqua cover, drawing the album in and out of its protective sheath. I listened to its songs nearly every day of my freshman year in college, dancing in place in my tiny dorm room, singing along to "You're So Vain," and speculating with friends about whether Carly truly had written that song about Warren Beatty. I treasured that album and its music. Even today, I need to hear only a few notes to recognize any of its songs.
The second album I ever owned was Tap Root Manuscript by Neil Diamond. I got it for Christmas midway through my freshman year, brining my music collection to a total of TWO albums. That summer, Tea for the Tillerman joined the party. I still know every word of every song on all three of those albums.
Now I own an iPod that holds songs I've never even played. Don't get me wrong—I love my iPod and listen to it all the time, but it's unlikely I'll ever again appreciate any music the way I did back in the days when getting a new album was a major life event I'd remember for 35 years.
Today, life's about instant gratification. If I want to hear new music, I can buy it, download it, and have it playing in less than two minutes. An audio book takes 20. No more slowly acquiring a set of encyclopedias once a week at the grocery store and staying up late into five nights to read the good bits of A by flashlight under the covers so I'd be ready for B by the following Saturday. These days, if I want to know some strange detail, I push a few buttons and the information is on my computer screen in seconds.
There are lots of advantages to this "instant on" world of ours, but we lose the prickly, tingly, edge-of-our seats feeling known as Anticipation that used to keep us wa-a-a-a-a-ai-tin.
Who knew? Carly was right so long ago. . .those were the good old days.
So are these.