While looking for used books recently at Savers, one of the thrift stores in the area, I came across something that brought back memories. Several shelves in the store held music-related items, many types of music. It reminded me of some of the different ways we’ve listened to music over the years.
My introduction to music as a small child in the early 1960s was most likely through the radio. People listened to the radio a lot back then, both at home and in the car. There was no MTV, no MP3s or headphones, and things like Spotify, Youtube, Amazon Music and everything else were unimaginable at that time.
There were albums back then. My parents had many albums, 33 RPM and 78 RMP, and the living room stereo even had a setting for 16 RMP, although I don’t recall ever seeing a 16 RMP record. There were also 45 RMP discs, usually with one song on each side, although some may have two.
As a teenager, I collected the top 40 hits on 45 rpm and I also bought albums. I would take the SRTA bus on Acushnet Avenue near the North End to Music Box to hear the latest music. You could also buy concert tickets at Music Box before tickets were only available online. Music Box had all the latest hits and offered materials listing the top 40 songs of the week.
Saltmarsh’s in downtown New Bedford was the best place to buy new music. What was different about Saltmarsh was that it had soundproof booths with turntables where you could sample the 45 RMPs before deciding to buy them.
Imagine pulling a 45 from the wall and listening to it in your private soundproof booth before shelling out 72 cents to buy it.
However, that all changed when department stores and the Dartmouth Mall came to the area, making stores such as Music Box and Saltmarsh’s less relevant. Eight-track tapes and cassettes were increasingly popular, but were eventually replaced by compact discs. Almost all music today is digital and you can fit hundreds of albums right in your back pocket with room to spare.
Like many people, I’ve repurchased my favorite albums many times over the years. We started with albums, moved on to 8 tracks and cassettes, then CDs. Changing music formats this way was expensive, not to mention the cost of replacing stereos with cassette and CD players and now digital music players.
Digital music is definitely more convenient and you can’t beat the sound, but there was something about an album with liner notes that can’t be replaced.
How many different music formats have you purchased over the years? What was your favourite? Where did you buy music at the time?
Top 100 Rock Albums of the 70s
From AC/DC to ZZ Top, from “Bridge Over Troubled Water” to “London Calling”, they are all there.