Thursday, March 05, 2015

Penny Thoughts ‘15—Dazed & Confused (1993) ****

R, 102 min.
Director/Writer: Richard Linklater
Starring: Jason London, Joey Lauren Adams, Milla Jovovich, Shawn Andrews, Rory Cochrane, Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp, Sasha Jenson, Marissa Ribisi, Deena Martin, Michelle Bruke, Cole Hauser, Christine Harnos, Wiley Wiggins, Mark Vandermuelen, Esteban Powell, Jeremy Fox, Ben Affleck, Jason O. Smith, Christin Hinojosa, Parker Posey, Matthew McConaughey, Catherine Morris, Nicky Katt, Parker Brooks, Rick Moser, Terry Mross, Richard Dillard, Fred Lerner, David Blackwell

I recently decided to start a vinyl record collection. It all came about from an article (that has since been lost in the vastness of the web) about collecting music. I was an avid music collector throughout high school and college. I collected cassettes and then reluctantly moved on to CDs as they were beginning to change the music soundscape. I remember the debates about analog and digital recording and mastering. Who remembers when CDs would sport a letter code of three letters consisting of ‘A’ and ‘D’ to distinguish which part of the production process was done analog or digitally? ADD, or DDD or different variations of such.

Anyway, when I embraced the Compact Disc format, by music collection exploded into frightening proportions. My collection was something of legends within the socializing networks of my college experience. Who remembers the long boxes CDs were once sold in? They were designed as a way to discourage theft I believe. It may have actually encouraged theft, as it was possible to open the box and slide the plastic CD case into a large pocket without much detection. I believe this is why they were eventually done away with and the locking case mechanisms began to be employed by all music outlets.  Well, my dorm wall art as a mosaic of about 100 of those long boxes stapled to my wall.

After I got married, my passion for music died down for a time. By the time I began to immerse myself in the world of music once again, it had all changed. CDs were artifacts from an ancient time. Everything now was digital. I had to buy myself an mp3 player. I went for the one that had the most to do with changing the way we listened to music—the iPod. My first was a 4G nano. I couldn’t even begin to fit even a small portion of my CD collection on that device, so I graduated to an 8G, which I had gotten for free. I was able to fit about a year’s worth of new music on there. I had to get something that suited the sheer volume of music I consumed—the iPod Classic 160G. That one almost had enough room for all the music I had obtained in my lifetime so far. It would do.

As we all know, the digital world lost the iPod Classic last fall when Apple just seemed to forget to renew its contract. It was a whimpering end for a device designed for the people who championed music with a passion. What’s worse, my iPod died a terrible death by brain frying just weeks before all its future siblings just disappeared from the Apple website and stores everywhere. So, I couldn’t even replace my precious! If it hadn’t died, I’d probably still be syncing it regularly and dreading the day that its screen retained the black of death when I plugged it in. As it was, I needed a new way to consume music once again.

I’d been playing around with Spotify for some time, at that point, but never committing. So I bit the bullet and joined their premium service. It was the dawning of a new day with the shear amount of music now available as I realized Spotify had acquired a greater collection of music than I ever could, and just like most of my collection on my iPod Classic, it was all available in my pocket. What a revelation. But something troubled me about it.

A few weeks ago I read a blog that put my finger on it. I didn’t really have any music anymore. And without purchasing music, I wasn’t pointing out to those special artists in my opinion by saying “you really matter to me. I bought your album.” Buying digital in this streaming age, however, just seems redundant. So, what was left to me but buying analog?

I decided it was time to enter the vinyl market. However, as you may have guessed I have a penchant for getting carried away with my music consumption. With four kids, the last thing I need is another obsession. So I decided to keep my vinyl purchases fairly restricted for the time being. At the moment I’m only collecting special and limited edition soundtracks on vinyl. I searched for a long time for my first purchase. I wanted to purchase the new John Carpenter album. I was willing to overlook the fact that it isn’t a soundtrack to anything but the movies in Carpenter’s head that we’ll never see. But, I missed the special editions of that one. Sold out.

In the meantime, I obtained a vintage SounDesign turntable through my wife’s efforts on our local radio station’s swap shop. I had no idea whether it was any good or not. It turned on when it was supposed to, but did it spin at the right speeds? Was the needle any good? Sure, I could take it some place, but that would ruin the great price I paid for it. So, I decided my first soundtrack should feature songs that I knew pretty well. I’d read about a limited edition Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (the Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack) by a company called Mondo. Sold Out. Damn!

Then a deal came across my computer screen. The Dazed and Confused Soundtrack: 20th Anniversary Limited Edition green vinyl with a BluRay Criterion Edition of the movie for a great price. Well, that was it. “Dazed and Confused” would be my first foray into vinyl. I got the package, after having subsequently ordered two more items from that Mondo company, and it sounds great. The old lady who practically gave it to me was right; that turntable is as good as new.

So that’s how I came about my first record collection of my adult life. It’s also how I came to see Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused” again after many years away. While I was watching it, I couldn’t help but try and glimpse the characters’ vinyl collections in the brief shots of them shown in a couple of scenes. I also can’t help but remember my parents’ own vinyl collection when I was a kid. I’m sure I could do without the Ray Conniff Singers albums, but there were a few I’d really like to see in my collection today. The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, The Beach Boys, and most especially—considering my current movie soundtrack theme—Saturday Night Fever and American Graffiti! I always felt “American Graffiti” would make a great double feature with “Dazed and Confused”!

Oh, and the way Linklater uses the extended intro to Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" makes this one of my favorite opening credit sequences.

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