I had the opportunity a few weeks back to talk really briefly with fellow Showbiz Kid, Mike, while waiting in line at Record Store day. He's a vinyl guy, and I'm not, but we acknowledge the fact that some media will have to die as others come into general acceptance. Nobody's suggesting that eight track or beta tapes are superior anymore. They served their purposes and now they are gone, largely forgotten and even completely unknown by newer generations. And that's ok. Technology has made newer media that's better, or more convenient, or both.
I also learned during that conversation that we share a love of jazz. I mentioned our conversation was brief, so that's as detailed a comment as I can make on the subject at the moment - we love jazz. That says almost nothing because of the scope of the subject. What kind of jazz? Any particular eras, or artists? What's Mike's stance on fusion? Free jazz? I look forward to many more conversations about the subject.
But, I couldn't help but make a connection between the two topics: changing music media and jazz (or any other style of music). They change, and sometimes they are forgotten and left to die.
As a happy accident, last year I stumbled upon the Blue Sky Boys, a country music duo consisting of brothers Earl and Bill Bolick. The Blue Sky Boys recorded between 1936 and 1975. This is Appalachia, country, Americana music. This is "O Brother, Where Art Thou" territory.
For your consideration, is "Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone."
They just don't make music like this anymore. It doesn't test well, doesn't sell well, it's not cool, it doesn't light 'em up on American Idol.
I get that. It's unlikely that music like this will ever enjoy a resurgence like vinyl has in recent years. But that also means without any new torch bearers, music like this will be forgotten, existing "only in the classical records department in your local public library," to borrow a quote from Elwood Blues.
That seems...tragic. A failure.
Who decides what parts of our culture are remembered? What's important to remember, to pass on? After CDs and MP3s there will be another popular music medium. But what music will make the transition?
Will we miss the music that doesn't make the cut? Will we even remember that it was?