I woke up this morning to the tune of my iPhone alarm and a new era - my 30s. While 30 may be a crisis age to some, I am not interested in sobbing in my pint over it.
For me, I've never put too much stock in age. Like everyone else, my 20s were an era of uncertainty and excitement. Certain dreams never happened, some ended prematurely, but mostly, the truly important ones (for the most part) have come true.
Since you don't really know me well enough to care too deeply about the lifetime trials and tribulations of a twenty-something Adam Grant, I want to instead focus on the technology that has also meant the most to me - anything that could bring music to my ears.
One of the most vivid memories I have from growing up is when I spent my pre-10 years flipping through my dad's extensive collection of vinyl. I didn't exactly know who any of these musicians were or what their deal was, but staring at the cover artwork and listening to records by artists like Queen and Alice Cooper instigated my interest in music. Sure, there were years where just the sight of Alice Cooper would lead to me cowering behind the couch in fear, but that story is for another day.
I remember the grandiose nature of the speakers in which the tracks barreled out of, and I remember the giant silver radio/eight track player/amplifier unit that my dad had hooked up to the house turntable. I can't remember who made it, but damn, for a while there it seemed sturdy enough to survive a nuclear holocaust.
Then came cassettes - finally, something small, cheap and accessible enough for a music newbie to get his hands on and ears directed toward. Like most smart consumers of the day, my parents enrolled in one of those Columbia House "buy 10 cassettes for a penny" type of subscription services. While not every bi-product of that service (largely Vanilla Ice's To The Extreme) was a worthwhile endeavour, I still managed to discover a vast array of music through this experience, mainly Aerosmith (my first favourite band), who's Pump album cover didn't ever appear dirty to me until I hit my 20s.
As the era bloomed into a time where gas stations and fast food chains began to give out cassettes as incentives for making certain purchases, I can recall many family vacations in the pick-up truck with La Bamba (my favourite at the time) and My Boyfriend's Back (ugh, my sister's then favourite) blaring through the speakers. We listened to so many of those friggin' tapes that whenever I hear Toto's Africa, I can't help but think about those family adventures that would lead to that song being played, four, maybe even five times over. Chuck Berry's greatest hits also became a popular selection for some reason.
When CDs came into the fold, I was ecstatic, but late to the party. My first CD player came to me in late 1995, with the first entries into my CD collection being The Cranberries' No Need to Argue, Collective Soul's S/T, Live's Throwing Copper, followed a little later on by Stone Temple Pilots' Purple, and the first Foo Fighters album.
I listened to the hell out of all of them and would soon pull together any allowance I had earned in order to get more shimmering CDs. Apart from the splendid number of years in which I worked as a music journalist that received free CDs on weekly, sometimes daily basis, that addiction hasn't ended.
Put it this way, I'm well above the 600 CD mark (at the very least, even after having disposed of some), and I continually crave new additions. I still ask for HMV gift cards for the sole purpose of having an excuse to go in there and walk out with a palm full of new music. When you have a mortgage, such a thing becomes harder to do otherwise.
Now, of course, we have digital tracks. I've downloaded some, I've streamed a lot, but I still prefer the hard copy. While I'll forever declare that my 120GB iPod is the most favourite piece of technology that I've owned and will hopefully continue to own for years to come, I'll always have a love affair with the CD. The artwork, the lyrics and the smell of a freshly opened CD will never get old for me.
At 30, I'm all too aware of just how fast this world spins. I also know that there's a continual arms race in the technology world for creating better, more efficient ways to listen to and access music. I look forward to those, but my soul will forever be with the hard copy formats that have helped me develop, love and enjoy the soundtrack of my life.
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