Journal, Music

Pure evenings

Back in August 2003 I attended The Leeds Festival, the equivalent of The Reading Festival but held in northern England and easier to get tickets to. Unfortunately, the evening we were supposed to drive to York to stay with our friends before the festival began, I suffered an eye injury.

Although the eye doctor had reluctantly agreed that I could attend the event, her conditions were that I shouldn’t drink or be physically active. Drinking and bouncing around are two of the numerous things that make music festivals fun, so although I put a brave face on things it wasn’t the experience I hoped for.

On Friday we saw a few good bands and paid fleeting attention to the one album wonders making up the numbers. All the while I felt like I was there in a somewhat observational role, even for bands I was a fan of, like Sum 41 and Good Charlotte. (Don’t judge, this was the early naughties!)

The next day followed a similar pattern with a long wait for the headliners, Linkin Park. Then, as dusk approached, Placebo took to the stage and just absolutely blew me away. I didn’t have to be drunk or jump around to enjoy their performance. It was more than enough to lean back, fill my ears with the music and let it all soak in.

As the sun set it was suggested we pretend it was daybreak instead, while the band played their anthem; Pure Morning. It was a feast for the senses and an absolutely magical moment that made me a fan for evermore.

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Crossing the streams

In this day and age, I still buy CD’s. I like them. I like that I can put them on the shelf at home and, when I look at them in years to come, they’ll spark a memory from the time when I first listened to the music on them. I like that I can rip the music from them and stick it on my phone, my laptop, my NAS drive at home, or any future device I might choose to listen to music on.

It’s that last bit that highlights a problem, though, in that for the most part I rip CD’s one time at a reasonably high bit rate and then they sit on the shelf gathering dust with the others. So, as much as I like buying and owning CD’s – not to mention the thrill of the chase in various music stores – they are but a conduit in terms of getting the music to me.

A few years back I bought the odd single from 7Digital – more because I either couldn’t find a CD in the shops or online, or it was too expensive when I did. Then, one day, I bought a whole album. I thought I’d miss having a physical CD with a nice booklet, and that I wouldn’t be happy with the quality unless I’d ripped it myself with my own settings.

The reality was that it sounded just fine and, as it only cost £5, seemed like a reasonable trade off in terms of convenience versus the lack of physical album. In the last three years I’ve gone on to buy quite a few albums under the condition that they’re worth it if they cost a bit less than the album would in the shop. £5 or less is the sweet spot – any more than that and I start doing all sorts of price-per-track and price-per-good-track calculations to figure out what business strategy folk would probably call the value proposition.

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