Last night I was at the Dropkick gig at The Ark in Edinburgh's city centre where the wonderful Ally Kerr was providing support. After Ally's stint was over I did something I've not done for a few months now (no, not buy a round of drinks before anyone suggests) I purchased Ally's new album - Off the Radar - on cd format.
I was reminiscing with my good friend June from Seattle the other day about buying music. Buying music is now so different to when fortysomethings like us were growing up. In the 1970s there was a certain anticipation and a thrill of actually going into a record shop (listen to old Grandad here!) and choosing an LP. The enjoyment one got out of browsing through albums, admiring the vast selection of album covers and discovering something you hadn't seen before and whether you would spend your hard-earned pocket money was palbable. In days gone by you could even ask to hear albums in specially created 'booths' akin to telephone kiosks where you could don a set of rather primitive headphones and listen in something approaching privacy.
After selecting your purchase, the shop assistant would carefully scan the vinyl for any marks or scratches. And then you would get the record home and devour the album notes as the stylus on your record player made a wee scratchy kind of noise before the music came on. And when it came to singles - 45s as was - there was the challenge of seeing how many records you could stack on your record player before a mis-shaped record centre would grind your stylus to a halt and you would leap to retrieve the record before any permanent damage was done.
When I was a teenager I used to think I had a relatively decent record collection until I saw some of my friends vast collection of vinyl. One mate used to have so many record carrying cases he could have built the equivalent of the Berlin Wall - yet he knew exactly where to find a specific record.
Nowadays, you don't even need to leave your house, you just download tracks via your computer - it's all so 'instant'. Other than a wee icon on your pc/IPod and the music itself, there seems nothing tangible about the purchase. And on those 'singles' that do have more than one track, the iconic 'B' side has been replaced by a somewhat nondescript 'Track 2'.
Now I don't expect my two daughters to even come close to understand what this is all about. But for those of us who were around in the days when there was only one music show on the television to watch all week - Top of the Pops (and even this has been scrapped by the BBC) - and taping the Top 20 off Radio One was one of the highlights of a Sunday, the wee nostalgic nod to the days when vinyl was king may strike a chord.
Or I may just be playing with history at the wrong speed...