Everyone has an opinion on the music that is being released these days.  And it isn’t just about the new music from new bands either.  Often, it’s the music coming from veterans, people who have been at it for quite a long time.  One of them is Blondie.

DebbieHarryIn a recent interview with Debbie Harry, that beautiful model of a woman from the late ’70s, who enjoyed a number of hits, and still tours successfully, she said something that made me think all weekend.  The topic is not new, but to hear what rolls through my head from the mouth of a professional, especially one that we all know and respect, seems to add a little validity to the question of longevity of today’s music.

When asked about the title of Blondie’s upcoming new album, Debbie Harry supplied it along with an explanation.  Here’s the cut ‘n’ paste version of the Tom Cowell interview with Ms Harry published on The Village Voice from NYC (and a link to the original article):

“The tentative new album title–“Ghosts of the Download”–sounds ominous.
It’ll be interesting for a moment. But the record will have a digital lifespan. It’s predictable that it will soon be obsolete, and become even more ghost-like. Maybe that’s just a bunch of metaphysical claptrap, but things move very quickly now.

Things live forever because they’re digitized, but it’s our attention that gives them life. And people are always making new things, making old things obsolete. That’s a powerful idea.
I’m sure I’m not the one to originate it.”

In this answer to the first question, she mentions the fact that new music have a “digital lifespan”, that is, new albums come, then quickly disappear, unlike the “old days” where classics formed and still hold sway over many people.

It’s an idea of fast moving and “forgettable” gems that bother me.  Long time readers know that I’m bothered by the fact that we no longer develop great albums, that they seem to be here, then –  “POOF” – gone!

Debbie Harry seems resigned to this fact.  I’ve long ago resigned myself to the fact that this happens although it still perplexes me that it does.  I’m disappointed that attention spans are compromised by the great amount of released music, and not whole albums at that.  Now, you and I might be in love with complete albums, but most people seem to have a qualified love for songs, building ever-changing playlists that move those songs, and often, those artists, to obscurity in a rapid period of time.

So, when Debbie Harry says what I’ve thought about for quite some time, I know that times really have changed.


By MARowe

3 thoughts on “Debbie Harry Talks About Disappearing Music”
  1. There are many facets to this issue as you know, but the one thing that resonates most with me is that the majority of music buyers have lost the art of listening – they hear but they don’t get involved. To sit and savour a fine LP is just not on the agenda. The single songs/download libraries are just a symptom of a changing culture. Ms Harry is right on and calls it like it is for the industry and for the majority of music purchasers, not listeners.

  2. I’m 67 years old and have collected records since I was was about 8 years old. I see a parallel in today’s music with the way it was when I was a youngster. We had top 40 radio, (WING in Dayton Ohio in my case), and everybodies play lists was the top 40 survey. When you went to a record store, you had albums, but the singles rack was where the action was. We even had copies of the weekly top 40 survey plastered all over town. We got used to hearing the current top 40 for a couple of months and little by little, it changed. Most weeks about 3 to 5 new songs would appear on the top 40, which means 3 to 5 fell off. A good song would last for about two months and just before it fell off, the record company would release another one by the same artist. I bought a few albums along the way, but for the most part it was for the singles that I already owned, which made no sense. Very few of the non charting songs on an album was not that memorable. If it was, the label would release it as another hit for the top 40. Seems this went on until the Beatles release Sgt. Pepper, and the advent of the album as the main source of music was born. I enjoyed the days of the singles, and I enjoyed the days of the albums. It seems to me with all of our technology and the supposed SMARTS generated by marketing people, we should be able to have BOTH ! Keep working on it folks ! The music buying public is tired of being screwed by the inept music industry !!!

  3. As you are, Matt, I am really disappointed, but much as I love albums, I find the modern pace of living has totally changed my listening patterns. When I was growing up (in South Africa), my brother and I used to sit by the stereo (!) and listen to albums over and over again. Genesis’ Selling England and Dark Side jump to mind. I even used to sneak out of bed and listen on headphones! These days in the UK, even though I have a 90 minute commute on a train, I find myself nodding off, and not listening to the music I have on. I normally listen to classics on the way in to work, and rock on the way home. Alter Bridge is my current favourite, and I’m enjoying the new Haken, The Mountain, but miss the middle of records when I’m dozing (yes, even to Alter Bridge!).
    I do miss less stressed times when we also read the lyrics and sleeve notes while we were listening. I was talking to an American friend when Counting Crows Hard Candy came out, and saying we loved track 4, and didn’t even really know what it was (Richard Manuel is Dead).
    However I do not listen to music radio, but love Amazon and Spotify for introducing me to new music and being able to listen to it. Also Classic Rock and Prog magazines are great for that.

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