The YouTube Generation

 
How do you learn “cover songs?”
I suppose that I am fortunate to be outliving types of media that are now extinct. 
The new younger generation really has no clue on what we “old folks” used to go through to learn cover material. This young YouTube generation doesn’t know how good they have it. At least they’re not showing me what they can do with the advances of technology they have compared to my/the “old days.”
How old is “old?” 
Well, “When I was a kid…..”

1) I used to sit at the ready with a cassette tape recorder waiting for the song you wanted to record to be played on “AM” radio. Actually, it was easier to wait for AM radio instead of FM back then because it was only going to have about 50 specific songs in the rotation. If you missed your song the first time you waited around for about an hour or two and it would play again. Less than that if it was a top 10 hit. And this was on MONOPHONIC AM radio. Odd how song writing, producing, engineering has gone down as technology has gone up. Yes there are some good songs being written today but it doesn’t seem to be the most important thing. Hard to pinpoint exactly what is important in the recording industry these days.

2) I bought the album or 45 and played the crap out of it until you learned the song. This was not only one of the best ways of learning a song but it was a sure fire way of ruining your vinyl. You were constantly playing a track or a certain part of a song over and over and over until you got it. To this day I have some albums where one song was obviously played more than any other tracks on the record. I would inadvertently hit the record player with the headstock of my guitar and put a big scratch on the record. Whatever room you were using to learn material had to be set up just right so that you could reach the record player and play your guitar without having to get up off your chair, bed, or couch to often. There was no such thing as a remote control for your record player. The somewhat easier route was the cassette player. You could use a portable battery powered one or you may be lucky enough to own one that had a remote control to rewind and/or fast forward. Problem with cassettes is that they were even more fragile that vinyl records. But there was yet another hellish media….

3) There were 8 track tapes. What a pain those were. Not only were you extremely lucky if you had an 8 track player with a remote, you were lucky if you had one that would rewind or fast forward. For those of you who know nothing about 8 track tapes and players, it is very difficult for me to explain this Neanderthalic form of media. Even more difficult to explain if you know nothing of cassette tapes or vinyl records. Ill give it a shot. Young people bare with me or just Google it.
For me, it was like a 4 sided album. 8 track players/tapes would divide up an albums worth of recording onto 4 sections of stereo (= 8) on a tape. If you played the tape continuously it would automatically, with a loud CLICK, switch to the next section in order. The comical thing about this system is that there was going to be a gap in sound between one section to the next along with the loud click. Many times this “gap and click” would be in the middle of a song. Oh, you would hear the entire song but there would be this annoying “gap and click” in the middle. It would ruin many a romantic and/or air guitar moment.
I guess because of the design of the actual tape cartridge you didn’t get to rewind 8 tracks. Just fast forward. So when you were learning material from one if you wanted to review you had to click over to that section again and then fast forward to the song.
8 tracks were a reason to always have a book of matches around even if you didn’t smoke. Why? Because 8 tracks relied on a certain amount of pressure between a rubber wheel in the player and a foam sponge on the back side of the tape in the cartridge. Yeah I know, “genius” right? So as your tape got older it was harder and harder for your player to play it because the sponge was losing its pressure and elasticity.
I was surprised to find out that 8 tracks were actually around from the 60s to the 80s. I still have some 8 track tapes.

Nowadays? Nowadays you don’t even need to record a song because of YouTube. The one problem with learning songs off of YouTube is that there could be a wide variety of versions of the song. Nowadays on YouTube chances are there’s already someone that has recorded themselves playing the song note for note and showing you in detail how they play it. Along with YouTube, the YouTube generation has a wonderful recording and playing device that’s portable AND convenient to use. It’s called a cell phone. There’s almost NO reason why someone covering material CANT get a recording of a song anywhere and anytime.

It’s a viable argument whether or not YouTube is helping or hurting the music industry. It’s a dichotomy for sure. In one way I think it hurts because it makes songs way too accessible for free. It has to hurt sales. I know for a fact it has hurts sales as far as Im concerned because I cant remember the last time I actually bought a popular recording artist’s CD. I never bought an album or CD to “support” an artist. I bought them because I liked their songs. But now I can get their songs anytime Id like for free. To some extent I can do the same thing through web players like Pandora, Slacker, or Spotify.

Again, the artistry and song writing has not progressed as exponentially as technology.
We have and are developing technology to have recorded songs last a lifetime. Unfortunately there aren’t that many new songs I want to listen to for a lifetime.
Sometimes I think I have that opinion because Im old. I know that that is not the case because I have so many teenagers still wanting to learn how to play Beatles and Led Zeppelin songs.There are still so many bass players wanting to learn how to play Jaco Pastorius. There are so many others without counting  the classical composers like Mozart and Beethoven. As talented a song writer Billy Joel is, I find it refreshing and interesting that he is trying to write timeless “classical” music in the vein of the great composers.

Has technology advanced since the days of Mozart and Beethoven? The Beatles and Led Zeppelin? Then why aren’t songs as advanced?
On a cold winter night is there anything better than a hot bowl of vegetable soup or beef stew? With all the advances made in the culinary world, both of those dishes can be made at a camp fire.
When your loved ones come in the front door at Christmas time does it feel better because they got there by the latest SUV or would it feel the same if they got there by horse drawn carriage?

Music may be one way we realize if technology is exceeding actual needs.
Unfortunately for the YouTube generation, it is up to you to utilize modern technology and create better music than Mozart, Beethoven, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin.

Now, about all these 3D movies…   
 

1 comment

  • Dana Cummins
    Dana Cummins
    I loved this one. My first bass was a Harmony short scale in 1986. The next year I saved up enough for a "real" bass and my first garage band. Learning songs then compared to now used to be so laboring. And if you sang and the lyrics weren't printed? Good luck because "what did he sa...what?" So, the vinyl, cassettes, the time. Granted I had a great sense of accomplishment when I learned a song back then. The age, the investment. These days I can learn several songs in a day with the show me how videos, the tab programs like Seinzo and just access we didn't have back in the 80's and even the 90's. This was a great read and very true.

    I loved this one. My first bass was a Harmony short scale in 1986. The next year I saved up enough for a "real" bass and my first garage band. Learning songs then compared to now used to be so laboring. And if you sang and the lyrics weren't printed? Good luck because "what did he sa...what?" So, the vinyl, cassettes, the time. Granted I had a great sense of accomplishment when I learned a song back then. The age, the investment. These days I can learn several songs in a day with the show me how videos, the tab programs like Seinzo and just access we didn't have back in the 80's and even the 90's.

    This was a great read and very true.

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