Screw the end of the decade shtick. It either is or isn't truly the end of the decade and honestly, I don't really care…mostly because I've heard so much great music in the past ten years (Or is it nine years? Oh, so confusing) that there's just no way I'd be able to create a short list. Even if I went through the exercise, I'd leave something out and feel bad and/or embarrassed about it. No, I'll save the energy for something else, something that started a couple of decades before the 2000's.
December 14, 1979. That was the day that The Clash released London Calling. Unbelievable that it's been 30 years. Unbelievable that the record sounds just as fresh today. I'm also somewhat taken aback at the fact that five freaking years have passed (already!) since the release of the 25th anniversary version. That felt, like, three eye blinks. Here's what I said about the album waaay back then:
To this day I can remember where I first heard side one. It was up in my high-school buddy's bedroom at his house on the little lake deep in central Maine. His dad's stereo was normally used for blasting John Phillips Souza-type stuff but on that day "London Calling" and then "Brand New Cadillac" pinned me to the wall.
Thirty damned years ago and I can still remember that experience, including the fact that the vibrations made the speakers start to move across the floor…and that the pitch on the turntable wobbled a little because the AC power was coming from a generator. I'm always amazed at what sticks in my head.
London Calling was one of those records that opened up my ears to other ideas about what "rock music" means. With big slabs of things like reggae and rockabilly mixed in with the punk, "the only band that matters" made me realize that there was more out there than power chords and shrieking lead vocalists.
Earlier today, I read yet another article about the future of music. This one centered on the vanishing idea of ownership. When music lives on servers (the 'cloud') there won't even be a need for song files. The music will just stream in on the device of your choice. Though it's not for me, I can see the advantages of things like a purely digital collection, or even that next step of the jukebox in the cloud. It does make me wonder about the experience of discovery and memory. If I had first heard London Calling in this way, with the artwork displaying on a screen (or no artwork at all), would it have stayed with me in the same way? That's really tough to work out because it's hard to imagine a different reality for 1979 and even more difficult to extrapolate three decades forward.
Yeah, the attachment to a physical object is fast-becoming an old-fashioned concept, or so they say. Still, I wouldn't have it any other way. Over the past 30 years, I've spent many a night reading the liner notes from this album while rattling the walls with "Death or Glory," "Clampdown," and "Brand New Cadillac."
I do hope that some kid today discovers this great record via "the cloud" and makes it a part of his life too.