The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 924: The History of Portable Music, Part 1

One of the many great things about music is that we can enjoy it anywhere. Everyone has a smartphone and every smartphone has the capability of playing music whether you’re listening to tracks stored in its memory or streaming something from a service like Spotify or Apple Music. As long as your device has juice, you can enjoy listening to music anytime you want.

Take this program, for example. In its radio show form, it’s being heard in homes, cars, offices, workplaces, and a dozen other places either over the air or through a stream. If you’re listening to the podcast, you might have downloaded it to a phone, a tablet, or a laptop which you can fire up whenever if feel the urge.

But imagine for a moment that you couldn’t take your music with you. If you wanted to listen to your favourite audio entertainment, you had to be present in a specific place and you couldn’t move from it. And that usually meant listening to music was confined to the home. The other possibility was that you were at a bar or restaurant and they had a jukebox.

This might sound absolutely awful. We’re so used to conjuring up music whenever we want and wherever we care, it’s hard to imagine life without that ability. But that’s the way it was for most of human history. For centuries and centuries, the only way to make music portable was to bring a musical instrument with you and play it yourself.

The idea of making recorded music portable in a convenient, cheap, and reliable way, is more recent than you might think. And this technology went through more incarnations than you may realize. What do you say we take a look at the history of portable music?

Songs heard on this show:

  • Arcade Fire, Keep the Car Running
  • Rancid, Turntable
  • Jonathan Richman, Roadrunner
  • Teenage Fanclub, Radio
  • Jim Boggia, 8Track
  • Elvis Costello, Pump It Up
  • Bow Wow Wow, C30 C60 C90 Go
  • SSQ, Walkman On
  • Jerkstore, Compact Disk

Eric Wilhite put together this playlist for us.

Don’t forget that you can get the podcast version of this podcast through iTunes or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s, and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ 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.

One thought on “The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 924: The History of Portable Music, Part 1

  • September 19, 2021 at 12:05 pm
    Permalink

    Did we really get X929 back on board?

    Reply

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