May 1, 2012: Memory Album

          I have the best interns in the universe working with me at the galleries where I curate. But, boy. Are they young.

          Yesterday Taylor (who’s turning 21 tomorrow, and has a 70-year-old’s working knowledge of film and music) and I were hanging some art and a Carole King song came on the radio.

          “I love Carole King,” said Taylor.

          “Me, too,” I replied. “Which song on Tapestry is your favorite?”

          “I don’t know,” she said.

          “Yeah,” I agreed. “That’s a tough one. ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ is amazing, but then there’s ‘Natural Woman’ and ‘It’s Too Late’ to consider.”

          “No, I mean, I don’t know what my favorite song on Tapestry is because I don’t know what Tapestry is.”

          I forgot: Young people—even brilliant ones like Taylor, whose favorite band is the Temptations and who collects Betty Boop memorabilia—don’t listen to albums anymore. “Kids these days” listen instead to digital radio stations that program songs by various artists based on musical genre. They download single songs from iTunes—no messing around with less-commercial album cuts.

          While I was pondering whether or not to explain the importance of Tapestry—and Rumors, and Revolver, and Hotel California—a Carpenters song came on. I decided that I’d try instead to talk about how albums provided more than individual songs; the ones that were special to us were like our own personal soundtracks to an era in our lives.

          “This is the fifth song on Side One of the Carpenters’ third album,” I toldTaylor. “I got this record for Christmas in 1970, and whenever I hear any song from that album, I feel all Christmassy and I remember what it felt like to be 8 years old.”

          Taylor looked up from wiring a framed encaustic. “That is so cool!” she announced, and I thought, Good, I’m making my point about how this lost format really mattered to music fans. “Nineteen-seventy! That’s the year my dad was born!”

And then I just wanted to throw myself into traffic.

Thing I Hate Today: My pants size

Thing I Published Today: Cover feature in Phoenix Magazine, print edition:


4 Responses

  1. Yep… old, old, old! At least my parents still had some true record albums hanging around, from whence the description originated — photo album-like books of multiple sleeves holding maybe a dozen or so 78 rpm discs. I’ll bet most children of the ’60s probably didn’t realize why their LPs were even called albums in the first place. Besides the tracking order (and context) there was the cool album art, fold-out albums and poster inserts.

  2. Let me help people out. Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added.
    I love learning new words. Thanks Robrt.

  3. What??? Her DAD was born in 1970? Is that possible? Sadly (now that I have done the math) I guess technically it is possible. WE ARE OLD Robrt Pela!!!

  4. Great-I am older than Taylor’s dad. Thanks for making my day with that newsflash. “A Star is Born” soundtrack-listened to it constantly reading and memorizing all the words.

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