This poem first appeared online in the July 2017 edition of Ground Fresh Thursday.
You won’t choose the music anymore, there’s just too much.
Thousands of songs, ripped onto hard drives, searchable
in long lists on small screens, nothing real or tactile,
nothing that makes you stop, remember, and want.
You miss the album art, the liner notes, the way
the vinyl felt under your fingertips on summer days
in the neighbor’s basement where music and the pop and scratch
spilled from keg sized speakers and filled the room
as if it, too, was a real, touchable thing. You’d flip
through a stack of albums, familiar and visual,
cardboard art in your hand, and liner notes. Pages of tiny print
with lyrics, but more. Producers and writers, that Gibson guitars
were used, the temperature at the Record Plant in Sausalito,
who mixed what, who mixed with whom. Between the lines, you read rumors.
Why wasn’t Keith listed, why’d Van Zant come back? Why Stevie
and Lindsey were so perfect together when we all knew
it wasn’t true. The thank yous, the dedications.
The kids don’t know what liner notes are. They find their lyrics
in moments on smart phones and iPods. They buy songs
one at a time. Songs in bits that move from the ether
to the iPod and straight from the hard drive into
their isolated ears, never escaping into the world
moving through space, breathing air, transforming, landing
against their bodies as if they were living things.
Now you get your Mumford and Hold Steady in digital bits.
You know they borrowed from Shakespeare and Yeats
from Wikipedia, but wonder, would it be better if it were real.
And there was a time, when you could read that this poem was written
in a Field Notes journal with Dixon equipment, the Ticonderoga and
Pink Pearl. On the last page of the book that held it, you’d learn
it was written with the support of Jennifer, in a small home
studio. When read aloud to a small gathering of friends, it would come alive.
Click to read the entire poem, and other great poems at GFT.
Copyright © 2017 Jeff Nesheim | All Rights Reserved
First appeared in Ground Fresh Thursday.