Monday, August 27, 2007

25 years of CDs

A somewhat significant anniversary took place on August 17, 2007. It was the 25th anniversary of the compact disk. Those little plastic circles that changed the way we buy music have reached the quarter-century mark. Not a bad record! (Just FYI, according to my local paper, the first mass-produced CD featured Richard Strauss' Alpine Symphony).

For me, the CD craze actually began circa 1989. Prior to that, everything my family had was on vinyl or on cassette tape (or on reel-to-reel, but that's another long story!). Why didn't we jump on the CD bandwagon right away? Yep -how'd you guess?- it was money. But it was also the fact that most of the music we bought came from thrift stores, not “real” music stores. I, like so many teens before me, had to beg my folks for my music. Maybe “beg” is too strong a word, but when you don't have a job, you really aren't in a position to demand everything you want.

So it began with my parents' old collection. I listened to what they listened to, and I liked it. And not because I had to! It was good music. John Denver, the Seekers, Peter, Paul & Mary, Simon & Garfunkel, etc. And of course, there were those Sesame Street albums. And the Bill Cosby comedy LPs. Ah yes, a golden age. I had a beautiful blue Lionel record player. That's right, the same folks who made toy trains made some record players as well. And they could do things that record players of today can't do – such as play records at 16 rpm!

My teen music years began with buying hit singles. “Business as Usual” by Men At Work is regarded as the first “teen rock album” I managed to talk my parents into buying. After that came such classics as “Toto IV,” “Sgt. Pepper,” “Rio”, etc. The first CD I managed to obtain? Probably “Bridge over troubled water” by Simon & Garfunkel. I think when Peter, Paul & Mary's “10 Years together” album debuted, that was when I realized that I needed to take this CD stuff seriously. Prior to that, most of the albums that I wanted to get on CD were just not available. There was no “Best of Seekers” CD. No “Best of Ed Ames.” Without the artists that I wanted to hear, there seemed little reason to delve into this new technology. But as time went on, favorite artists/albums began to “convert” to CD, and I (and everyone else) decided to start collecting them all over again. And so began the golden age of the CD.

There's a chance that that golden age is behind us. With the advent of iPods and the demise of Tower Records, much of the music-minded masses today get their music from online downloads and not from CDs. CDs are certainly still popular, though, and their demise – if it is coming – is probably still several years away. In the meantime, I relish in the fact that I can now pick up a CD at Goodwill for $2.00. That's almost the price of an LP there. How times have changed.
For more about the fall Tower Records (and why it fell), read this post:


As noted by Nantoreturns, Helen Reddy's “Wonder Child” - a song she performed on Sesame Street (and originally available on the “Stars come out on Sesame Street” LP) - is finally available on compact disc. It's on a 2006 collection titled “The Rest of Helen Reddy.”
Why is this important? It is a rare example of an artist's track from “Sesame Street” appearing on the artist's official album. It's a good sign – if this keeps up, we may get to hear more rare tracks from Sesame, including songs by Paul Simon, Judy Collins, Johnny Cash, Stevie Wonder, Jose Feliciano, etc. that haven't been released commercially. Let's hope! In the meantime, you can watch Helen sing “Wonder Child” on the clip in the favorites folder of my YouTube page.


THE BUZZ FROM TODD: You can blog about anything. And I do mean anything. The slightest, tiniest little bit of news can become a blog posting. You want a perfect example? Fly on over to “Neato Coolville” by clicking on the link below and see what I mean. But bring along a can of Raid. Maybe this blogging stuff is easier than I thought.


DOUBLE YOUR. . .PLEASURE? Have you ever walked down the street and run into somebody who looked exactly like yourself? It happened to Fred Hembeck. He writes about it on his blog – scroll down to August 21, 2007 to read all about it:


MISTER, WE SHRUNK OUR MOM. The problem with having an overactive imagination is that sometimes it makes you see things that don't exist. . .Or do they? For example, I came upon this description in the newsgroup of a video that someone is looking for:

I was writing this in the hopes that someone could help me find a video I have been wanting to find for a long time. The video was called "Mister, We Shrunk Our Mom," and it was a promotional video distributed for Kirby Brand Vacuume (sic) Cleaners in the early 90's. The Kirby Company has since stopped distributing the video, and I have been unable to locate it. If anybody out there has this video or knows where I can find it, I would GREATLY appreciate it if they would please give me a reply.

Now I have never seen this video. But given only this tiny bit of information, I think I can describe pretty much exactly what this video is like!

A vacuum cleaner salesman walks up to a house & knocks on the door. Two kids answer the door.

SALESMAN: Hi there, kids! Is your mother home?

KIDS: (In unison) Mister, we shrunk our Mom!


KIDS: We shrunk her so small that we can't find her!

SALESMAN: Well, that's no problem, kids! I just happen to have the new Kirby Brand Vacuume cleaner with me! This handy, economical machine will find your mom with no trouble at all!

KIDS: You mean we have to do our homework after all? That sucks!

SALESMAN: Exactly! Just look at how well this Kirby Brand Vacuume cleaner sucks up all the grungy, grimy things within your carpet! Including your mom!

KIDS: Be careful!

SALESMAN: Don't worry, kids. The Kirby Brand Vacuume cleaner won't harm your carpet or your hard-floor surfaces.

KIDS: We're talking about our Mom, you dufus!

Cut to a scene of the Mom standing next to a strand of carpet that is twice her size.

MOM: Gee, it's a good thing my clothing shrunk with me. . .Wait, what's that?




KIDS: Gee, did it work, mister?

SALESMAN: We'll find out soon, kids. But first, let's talk about payment options. . .

If anyone really does have this video, which sounds like a future cult classic for MST3K, please let me know. And let me know how accurate I was! (Just contact "sesameguy" at the Muppet Central forums.)