I will tread lightly with this column, in the hope of avoiding any trap of ageism or intergenerational disparagement. But the point is, we grow as music fans throughout our lives. The more we listen, collect and observe, the more informed we become.
At the same time, we develop preferences, prejudices, prejudices and all kinds of psychic baggage when it comes to music. And at one inevitable moment, we whisper to ourselves that today’s music is nowhere near as good as it was when we were younger.
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Every generation believes that the music of their youth was the greatest music of all time. You might not be with the kids anymore and that noise they call music, but your elders thought the same about your music back then. And it was the same for your parents too. There is nothing to be ashamed of here. It is the cycle of life.
In fact, the kind of musical knowledge and expertise that only comes with age should be celebrated and cherished. When you start to think about how music has entered (and sometimes left) your life, you begin to realize that it has been a long, strange, and wonderful journey, filled with wonderful memories.
This test will help determine how much of a seasoned music fan you are. Give yourself one point for each “yes” answer. And don’t forget to count the bonus points. (My apologies to Jeff Foxworthy and the “You Might Be a Redneck if…” routines.)
You might be a seasoned music fan if …
- Have you ever had a car with a cassette player under the dashboard? Give you a bonus point whether it was made by Craig or Jensen, three bonus points if it was from Muntz.
- Your favorite part of Frightenstein’s hilarious house It was when Wolfman would play a song and then dance with Igor.
- You or someone next to you lit a cigarette at a concert and no one said anything.
- You have already bought a new record at a furniture store, drugstore or department store.
- You have already recorded songs on the radio. A bonus point if it was an AM radio.
- You know how to program presets on a push button radio.
- You remember when a new Rolling Stones album was very important.
- You’ve already stood in line overnight at a ticket office to get the best possible seats for a concert.
- You thought the big Mach 1 speakers sold at Radio Shack were pretty good, but you really wanted a set from JBL or Cerwin-Vegas. A bonus point if you coveted everything that was done by Magneplanar.
- You thought laser rock shows at the planetarium were cool.
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- You have stored the telephone number of the request line of your favorite radio station. A bonus point if you had it in speed dial.
- You remember not only when the albums came out on Tuesday, but also the days when an album could be released any day of the week.
- Concert PA systems consisted of stacks of speakers on either side of the stage instead of hanging from the rafters.
- You had to bring a record back to the store because it was warped and popped out of its sleeve.
- You owned stereo equipment made by Sansui. Three bonus points if you had a TEAC coil machine.
- You remember when David Bowie was the strangest person in music.
- You never missed Good rock tonight at CBC to stock up on new music videos.
- … You had a buy-10-CDs-get-one-free HMV card.
- You remember when the only way to watch MTV in Canada was with a 12ft satellite dish.
- You fought with your friends over which brand and which blank tape was the best. A bonus point if you were arguing over the correct length of a blank tape. (The correct answer to both is TDK SA C-90.)
- Besides WinAmp, you had at least two other CD ripping programs on your desktop.
- You’ve been to a show where security was provided by a local motorcycle gang.
- The most important thing in your life was to be an official member of the KISS Army. A bonus point if you still have your patch somewhere.
- That T-shirt you bought at your very first gig is still in a drawer somewhere.
- You have ever listened to a radio station and heard a recording skip or play at the wrong speed.
- You couldn’t wait for the release of Radio Shack’s annual catalog.
- You have kept the paper stubs of the tickets of the concerts you attended before you met your spouse.
- You went to stereo stores pretending to buy high end speakers, but you really just wanted to listen to your favorite albums on big systems that you could never afford.
- You’ve lined up in the cold for Sam the Record Man’s annual Boxing Day sale. A bonus point if you’ve ever shopped at a store during Rocktober.
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- You’ve been back and forth between Future Shop and Majestic Sound Warehouse looking for the best deal on sound equipment.
- Your most valuable vinyls and CDs are UK imports. A bonus point if you have at least one German import. Another bonus point if you have imports from Japan.
- You went to a record store Monday at midnight to be among the first to own a trendy new album when it officially went on sale at 12:01 am.
- You went to a movie and immediately bought the soundtrack. A bonus point if you have at least two of the soundtracks from one of John Hughes’ 1980s teen movies.
- You understand how useful a cent (or two) can be on a tonearm.
- You only bought 45s because you couldn’t afford vinyl records with your allowance.
- At least one friend had an all-in-one AM / FM / vinyl turntable / 8-track / cassette receiver from a company like Lloyds.
- You honestly thought AC / DC was over when Bon Scott died.
- Not being able to hear properly for three days after a concert was a sign of honor.
- The CDs seemed to be science fiction coming to life.
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- You remember being told that “home recording kills the music” and you didn’t care.
- Concert crowds threw themselves around frisbees or beach balls before and between sets and security didn’t care.
- You have purchased concert tickets from ABO, CBO or Ticketron. A bonus point if you bought tickets from your favorite record store.
- You scribbled group names and logos on the back of your notebooks instead of paying attention at school.
- You understand why the best Beatles album is Revolver.
- You saw The Who with Keith Moon.
- People eyed longingly at the white headphone cord leading to your iPod.
- You agreed with all the reviews that said Led Zeppelin was crap.
- You went through a phase of hatred towards synth-based bands because “it wasn’t real music”.
- Punk was the scariest music there was.
- You always have a collection of music magazines because you can’t bear to throw them away.
- You remember what you were doing when you heard that (one point) Kurt Cobain died; (two points) John Lennon is dead; (Three points) Elvis Presley is dead.
- You have collected the weekly charts published by your favorite radio station.
- You were in front of a television when The Beatles first played Ed Sullivan on February 9, 1964. A bonus point if you immediately vow to form your own group. Three bonus points if you did.
- You can name the Parisian cemetery where Jim Morrison is buried. Full ten bonus points if you’ve ever visited his grave.
- K-Tel discs were THE BEST!
- You went bankrupt buying D batteries for your boombox.
- You had to settle for a portable Sanyo cassette player instead of the Sony Walkman you really wanted.
- There was a stereo console in the living room. A bonus point if it also had a built-in TV.
- An FM radio in the car was once exotic and cool.
- You have MP3s older than your children. A bonus point if you have at least five using the original Napster.
You can total all of these points if you want, but if you answered “yes” to at least half of these statements, congratulations on your entire experience. You can now dominate a younger generation if you want to, but they’ll just look at you and ask, “What are you talking about?”
Do you have other things that define the experience? Leave them in the comments. And feel free to share this list with any other seasoned music fan you know.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with Q107 and 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.
Subscribe now to Alan’s podcast on the current story of new music on Apple Podcast or Google Play