Confessions of a time traveller
I remember seeing a meme on Facebook about music being the surest form of time travel, or words to that effect. It was on my mind when I purchased a couple of old Ozzy Osbourne LP’s (Bark At The Moon, The Ultimate Sin) from Dwaine Anderson in Lloydminster, a good friend and one of my vinyl dealers. Looking at the covers as well as the songs listed on the back brought back powerful memories from when I first heard them.
I’m one of those poor bastards who, when the CD revolution hit, converted my record collection over to the shiny new digital format and dumped the albums for pennies on the dollar. That’s a decision I deeply regret, particularly in the last decade as I’ve slowly started buying back some favorites. My record collection was somewhere around 2,000 LPs when the revolution began; the re-stocked version is somewhere between 200 and 300 titles and isn’t likely to grow much bigger. I’d be surprised if it gets to 500.
While appreciating the warmth of analog sound, it’s only a small part of why buying records has become important- nostalgia plays a far bigger factor. When Bark At the Moon came out in 1983 I was married to my first wife and was a new father, and even today putting the album takes me right back to a time of hopes and dreams. The Ultimate Sin followed in 1986, just over a year after my mother had passed a way, a few months before the marriage sank, and about a year before my father died. So not all the memories are happy ones, but still worthwhile and a part of learning and growing.
While many bands and artists I listened to back then are still releasing new music (I’m listening to Ozzy’s Patient #9 as I type this) it doesn’t have the same cache as their older records do. I think it has something to do with the memories that go along with the music we listened to in our younger days. Paul Stanley famously said that fans don’t want to hear new music from Kiss. He said that their last 2 albums (Sonic Boom from 2009, Monster from 2012) contains what he considers some of the best material the band has ever written, yet fans would still say “that’s great – now play Love Gun.” That also ties in with my theory that most bands do their best work in their first decade. The Rolling Stones’ Hackney Diamonds made #2 on my Best of 2023 list, yet chances are I’ll pull out Sticky Fingers or Goat’s Head Soup first.
The music that’s important to you at crucial junctures of your life really sticks with you. What was playing the first time you had sex? (for me, The Sonny & Cher Hour on TV) The first time you drove? When you landed that big job? When you met your spouse? As a music reviewer of some 34 years, new albums often flow by me like a river – I’ll grab at things that attract my attention, but when listening to a record or CD just for the fun of it, it’s usually something older… same goes for the internet radio shows I write and produce weekly. Putting on Black Sabbath’s Heaven & Hell takes me right back in the spring of 1980, and when I spin Stonebolt’s or Dire Straits’ first records, I’m back in Prince George driving down the main drag on a sunny day in 1978-1979.
Is time travel physically possible? Probably not… but put on the right album when you’re in the right frame of mind will take you almost anywhere you want to go in your head, bringing back scenes you’d maybe forgotten about. It’s a great stress reliever and a fine way to spend the evening.
I understand if you’re skeptical, but give it a try anyway – you won’t be sorry.