For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to music. I was raised in a family of music lovers. Whether it was my father sitting down to play a show tune on the piano, or my mother listening to Steve and Edie as she cleaned, there was always music playing in our home.
The vast changes in personal enjoyment of music intrigue me. From the Victrola to MP3 players, we really have come a long way.
My first memory of buying my own music was spending $1 on a 45 record at Cavages. I had to save up a month’s allowance and therefore had to really think about what I would purchase. I loved playing my records on my family’s hi-fi that was housed in a large cabinet in the living room.
Every Christmas, my sisters and I would each ask for an album. Once again, a great deal of consideration had to go into choosing that one special artist. There was something magical about tearing off the plastic, pulling out the liner notes and reading them by the light of the glowing tree.
In those days, we listened to the entire album. First the A side, then the B. Sure, there were favorite cuts, but listening to the entire recording allowed us to have other not-so-popular songs grow on us. Passing over certain songs required picking up the needle and placing it just perfectly on the beginning of another song. Songs that skipped were no problem. A carefully placed penny or two on the needle took care of that.
Although 45s and albums were wonderful, people had no way to enjoy music on the go. Enter the eight-track tape player. I remember seeing my neighbor playing a John Denver eight-track tape and being absolutely mesmerized. Was it really possible for 10 songs to be held in that black box? Having a player in your house was one thing, but having one in your car took it to a whole new level of cool.
The ability to record favorite music came with the cassette tape player. I recollect sitting by my radio, waiting for Danny Nevereath to play my favorite song so I could push the play and record buttons simultaneously on my GE tape recorder. This was the foundation of my love of making mix tapes.
My music appreciation and tastes quickly developed and, before I knew it, I was off to college with my brand-new stereo and milk crates full of albums. Music has a way of connecting people. I met many new friends while blaring my Genesis albums at SUNY Cortland.
We could enjoy music in the home and in the car. Was it possible to enjoy music as we walked around? Enter the Sony Walkman. For the younger generation this certainly doesn’t seem groundbreaking, but it was for those of us who lived it. I spent countless hours on a Greyhound bus with my Walkman strapped to my belt and a few carefully chosen cassette tapes in my backpack.
As is true with most technological advances, quality improved and the music devices became smaller and smaller. Sony again took us on a new adventure with the MP3 player. Music was now digital and the player could hold dozens, if not hundreds, of songs.
Just as fashion trends re- emerge and are labeled couture, so has personal music enjoyment. A younger generation is finding appreciation in albums, although the hip name has become vinyl.
I guess the old saying is true; everything old really is new again!
Diane Hyzy lives in Kenmore.