I’m a big fan of both Greg Wilson and the joy of appreciating albums in their entirety… but when the lovely Alan P emailed this to me this afternoon, about Greg Wilson’s ‘Classic Album Sundays’ and his guide to putting on ‘classic album nights‘, call me a philistine, but I had to reach for a bucket.
I’m all for public enjoyment of albums – in fact, I quite like the idea of a series of ‘Classic Album’ nights here in NZ in a good venue with a killer sound system (much like I’ve always wanted to put on a series of outside cinema gigs that feature iconic live concert films such as The Last Waltz, Stop Making Sense and Woodstock* – anyone wanna go in?). But Greg’s draconian guidelines (when applied to public album nights at least) seem to take all the joy out of listening to music.
You should really read them in entirety for full effect, but for instance:
- If you’re listening with others, gather together at least half an hour before the pre-arranged time, get the small talk out of the way and make any necessary preparations beforehand to ensure there’ll be minimal distraction during the listening session. Once the session has begun don’t be breaking the atmosphere by popping out because you need a drink, or you forgot to go to the toilet, or you just remembered that you haven’t tucked the kids into bed, and so on and so forth.
- If you’re late arriving, don’t disturb the listening process by entering the room once the music’s started. It’d be better for the others if you sat it out this time…
- Once the album has finished spend some time sharing your impressions with those who’ve gathered in the room with you. If alone, quietly sit with your thoughts for at least a few minutes.
I have to say I side with one of the commenters at this excellent blog (hat tip again, Alan P) who says: “I might be wrong about the intention, but it feels to me like trying to “recreate” something that never existed – I always felt the (classic) album, unless you’re all in a car, is something to be enjoyed fairly privately, like a novel, and singles are to get social with – and not in mock reverential silence.”
But if anyone feels like getting together to put on a Classic Album night – albeit one where we can play it loud and enjoy a drink, a robust discussion (one we don’t need to be instructed to have), maybe even (gasp) a dance – let me know…
And in the meantime, enjoy some classic Greg Wilson from the vaults that doesn’t involve the stroking of any chin.
* Ok, I confess… mostly so people can smoke as they appreciate – OLD SCHOOL styles…