It’s a long way from there to here


AC/DC, the Australian hard rock band, in 1975 released It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll.)

It’s a great song.

And it could also be used to describe the changes in how music is discovered and bought by new fans. That’s an experience that has come a very long way.

When AC/DC released It’s a Long Way to the Top, I was 9 years old. From 1975 to 1985, the year I graduated from Chariton High School, if you listened to rock music in my hometown, you listened to KGGO, a classic-rock radio station in Des Moines. If you heard something you liked on the radio, you probably bought an LP record or maybe an eight-track or a cassette tape. By the time I was in high school, if you weren’t a loser like me, you had a compact disc player.

If you had the means to do so, you bought your music at a record shop in Des Moines or some other bigger town. That was because about the only option in Chariton at the time was the Pamida store or Gibson’s, which, I think, was a predecessor to Pamida. Wisconsin-based Shopko owns the Pamida stores today.

If I haven’t lost you in all of that history, my point is that options for buying music in my small hometown were limited 30 years ago.

For me, that improved when I went off to college in Sioux City, Iowa, where I discovered Uncle John Records, which was an institution on West Third Street. As I recall, half of the building was a new- and used-record shop and the other half was a head shop.

Uncle John’s helped to greatly expand my horizons — and least when it came to music.

But even that pales to how much things have changed since then. Tuesday, afternoon, I listened to “Listener Picks: Your Favorite Albums of 2012,” a podcast produced by one of my favorite blogs, National Public Radio’s All Songs Considered. They published a list of what their listeners identified as the best albums of 2012. You can listen to the podcast here.

All this proves, I guess, is it really isn’t 1983 anymore. And we’re not in Chariton, Toto.

The Avett Brothers
The Avett Brothers

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. Somewhat predictably, the band and album from the NPR list that I liked the most was The Carptener by the Avett Brothers.I really liked I Never Knew You.

Because of Google, which represents an even bigger way that life has changed since the days of scooping the loop in Chariton and listening to KGGO, I can easily tell you a little about the Avett Brothers. They are a folk-rock indie band from North Carolina. The Carpenter is the band’s seventh studio album. It was produced by Rick Rubin.

Of course, I didn’t discover this band by listening to a commercial radio station. And I didn’t rush out to buy the album. I simply listened to it on Spotify, but with that, I’m starting to repeat myself.

And I need to head for work anyway. Today is the second day of a new year. Make it a good one.

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