Thursday, October 13, 2005

IPods, CDs, and the Future of Music

I think the music corporations' fight against copying music is stupid and ultimately will be fruitless. People are going to continue getting around whatever barriers the corporations put up and download songs to their iPods. What's more interesting to me is what the downloading of songs, as opposed to albums, means for the future of music. There are many songs that stand alone in their own right. You can't tell me that "Idiot Wind", "Silver Wings", or "Me and Bobby McGee" don't stand up under any circumstances. But there is something to the album as a concept that is lost with the downloading of individual songs. Take an album like Ry Cooder's Chavez Ravine. Without the liner notes and listening to the album as a discreet thing, it is impossible to understand what is going on. Will it be possible for artists of the future to tell complex, multi-song stories through their music? Could Drive-By Truckers tell a story of the South as complete as Southern Rock Opera? I worry about the effect of this upon music. No doubt music will survive and great new music will be made. That will always happen so long as humans are living on this planet. But am I alone in thinking that the complete abandonment of the album format leaves us just a little musically poorer?