Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Sunshine Of Your Huh?

We’re slow with the new technology up here in the hills.

Recently, though, the wife got herself a digital camera in preparation for the trip to the UK, and she upgraded her cell phone to one of those jobs that can take pictures and such.

The digital camera’s just great and opens up all kinds of possibilities, especially in tandem with the new computer we finally bought to replace the one we got for free back in 1999. That’s a story in itself, though.

That poor machine did the best it could attempting to keep up with the latest improvements on the internet, but it gradually became more and more obsolete with each passing month until it finally required a reboot every half an hour or so. It was the computer equivalent of two tin cans and a string.

Using the new one feels like being kicked into another century. It’s probably nothing special to those in the know, but to us it’s a magic box that had us hurrying to put the old machine deep in the basement where no one will know we ever used it.

The only disappointment, and it’s a small one, has to do with the new cell phone.

It offered a number of interesting new ring tones, for a fee, and the wife decided on Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love. Which, in and of itself, was, you know, fine.

The problem is that they either haven’t gotten all the bugs out of transferring actual recordings into these phone speakers, or this particular song has trouble confining itself to the cell phone format, because every time it rings, it sounds like a hundred blenders all being turned on at once.

All of a sudden there’s this electronic clamor from her coat pocket that, when withdrawn and exposed to the air, turns into the sound of electric razors battling for world supremacy.



All of a sudden Cream sounds like they were the inspiration for a thousand industrial bands.

I much prefer her old ring tone, which imitated the sound of an upcoming news bulletin and didn’t make me jump 5 feet in the air.

It did make me think about how some people listen to music at volumes that, to my mind, eliminate any musical qualities that might have once existed there.

One ends up next to cars that do this all the time, of course, but the most extreme example I ever experienced was in 1977, when I was hitchhiking to Rhode Island from NYC after an Ornette Coleman show at Lincoln Center.

At some point, I was picked up by a guy in a tiny sports car that had seen better days. As soon as we took off, he hit his tape player and a sheet of white noise poured forth.

I had absolutely no way of knowing what or who was being played, as his insistence of listening to it at the highest possible volume had reduced it to a series of buzzing sounds that refused to vary, they just ran at you over and over again until you wanted to throw your head out the window.

Or his.

I couldn’t fathom how he possibly could have been enjoying this. What was he hearing? Could he, indeed, hear anything at all anymore?

It was a ride, though, so I gritted my teeth and when he finally dropped me off near Providence, my ears were ringing. I could just see the city in the distance and as I started towards it, the musical tumult of ’77 just around the corner, I wondered if it wasn’t time to pay more attention to popular music.


Post a Comment

<< Home