Ongoing History of New Music

The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 907: Digital Debris part 2: Album artwork

A little while ago, I carved you some time to finally file some records and CDs. The pile had grown quite large thanks to my procrastination, but I finally summoned up the discipline to get it done. And honestly, it was a task that should have taken 30 minutes, tops.

But it ended up taking much longer than I expected because I kept stopping to examine the artwork of almost every album I picked up. I’d forgotten how much I’d been into looking at my music collection. What was the artist driving to get across with the artwork on the front? On the back? On the inside?

Unless you’re still buying physical product, this is an experience that’s largely been expunged from music culture. Yes, there are still digital liner notes and digital artwork. Maybe you’re curious enough to check out the fields in the metadata after a right click on the file. But it’s just not the same.

If you’re of a more recent generation, there’s an excellent chance you’ve never bothered with artwork because you’ve always lived a digital life. In fact, you probably have no idea what I’m going on about. But if you’re into vinyl, compact discs, and even pre-recorded cassettes, you’ll understand how much things have changed in so short a period.

Yes, we must roll with the times and change with the technology. But the disappearance of old-school album artwork has somehow diminished the music experience for me, just like how we’ve moved away from things like the B-sides and bonus track that once appeared with physical product.

Let me show you what I mean. This is Digital Debris, part 2.

Songs heard on this show:

  • Clash, London Calling
  • Beastie Boys, Fight for Your Right
  • Hole, Miss World
  • Velvet Underground, Waiting for the Man
  • Muse, Knights of Cydonia
  • Joy Division, Shadowplay
  • Radiohead, Paranoid Android
  • Twenty One Pilots, Stressed Out

Eric Wilhite created this playlist for us.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38129 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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