Soundtracks and Albums – A Moment in Time

I teach dance and I write, two things, that for me, require lots of one thing – music. Coupled with the fact that I can’t breathe without music notes inundating my head, and there’s a lot of listening, searching for, and downloading of new music that goes on in my house.

For me that day is Tuesday. I comb through new stuff, old stuff, and pester my friends for what titles they’re buying. But the last year or so, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. I get song titles, or not even that so much as, “the new Fresh Prince song”. That’s right. One song. Here and there.

But no one told me to buy an album. And that when I realized it, I miss that. Just like with a book, I love a complete story. Now I know not every album tells a story like Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, but it does in fact capture a moment in time. That’s why it’s called an album. A collection of memories and thoughts and if you’re lucky enough, every time you turn it on, it becomes your own personal flux capacitor producing the 1.21 gigawatts needed to Get Back In Time. I mean who can’t hear that song and not think of Marty McFly?

The truest form of the album might be a soundtrack. That is the ultimate capture of a feeling or a moment. There are so many good soundtracks out there and I’m a junkie for them. Saturday Night Fever, Footloose, Flashdance, (500) Days of Summer, Elizabethtown, anything John Hughes ever did, and arguably, the best thing to come from the Twilight franchise was the music.

I remember when I was a kid and Christmas was around the corner. My list would be filled with a couple new Atari games, a toy and a board games, then literally pages of cassettes, vinyl albums, and books. And don’t get me wrong, i bought my share of singles, too. Like Patience, but ironically, that was purchased because i didn’t have enough of the song title to wait for G’NR Lies to come out. I soon traded up though. But I digress. The Christmas list. I remember one year, I wanted one album. I had to have it. And I asked everyone for it. New Jersey by Bon Jovi. The problem was it came out in September and that is a long time before Christmas.

But I had a plan.

I bought a single of Bad Medicine, as one does, so my mother would suspect nothing when Jon and the boys blared through the house. Then I saved up my allowance and bought a cassette on the down low. The plan would be, if I received it for Christmas, I would simply exchange it for other music. This plan worked beautifully…until I received four copies that year. it’s much harder to return the same album four times. But it can be done.

But those are the lengths I used to go for a complete album. Subterfuge. Nowadays, it’s just a click away, and yet most still opt for the ‘buy this song’ option.

This burdens me for many reasons, lover of vinyl and complete stories that I am, but for two big ones. One – I don’t get an artist’s complete vision. I get it. There’s lots of auto-tuned, homogenized, synth-laden-beat-you-into-oblivion music out there. But there are still artists. And I want to know what they’re thinking. The second is I might miss a really great song.

To wit: A few weeks ago, everyone was talking about Royals by Lorde. I had to have the song. I was addicted already and with so much confirmation, the search began. I expected to find the single since not one person had mentioned anything else by her. Did you know there’s an EP available, and did you know that Hips is an even better song than Royals? Well, there is and IT is.

Has our life become so fast-paced that we can’t be bother to listen to an entire album? We can only get one song and that’s only after the record label, radio, and yes, still, MTV decide it’s fit for consumption. What about finding that song that says exactly what you want a year before anybody else. What about that song that never gets airplay but in your heart you know is your song?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I go through revisions and try to make my book, not a single moment, but a completed, full-grown story in time. I think it’s important we take the time to make our own ‘allbums’ and bring all that we have to the table. And it can be scary, I know. Look how much crap Taylor Swift gets for putting her heart, soul, and personal experiences into an album. She’s basically sharing a scrapbook with all of us and letting us make fun of the hearts and glitter she put in it.

But she’s not the first, and I’m hoping, not the last. Singles are a product, albums tell a story. And they are made by writers, just like you and me. So next time you really love a song or a book, look for the whole story. You might find something you didn’t know you were looking for.