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Take A WalkOn The Wild Side

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Since I have been home during the pandemic, which is coming up on a year now, I listen to music for most of the day, on most days. I always listened to music, but on my long drive to the office, I more often listened to podcasts than music, meaning people talking rather than singing. While at work, there were too many distractions and a physical structure that wasn’t all that conducive to public listening, so even though I would at times listen to my headphones, I did not regularly.

I have a stereo in my home office, that my stepson set up for me. An old 1980s era receiver and record player, plus a set of decent Advent speakers. I would have put the speakers on the floor, but my stepson chose to put them directly on my desk, behind the computer monitor, and mere feet from my head, where my ears are.

I still don’t have that many records, having given most of them away years ago, so I only occasionally listen to the record player, which means I’m listening to a digital feed from my computer, which is, in turn, streamed from either Apple, Amazon or Pandora. 

Purists, or even casual audiophiles, will be aghast I’m sure, to even contemplate me listening to such disabled music, without the highs and lows of the original recordings, crushed by the compression of digitalization. There are services you can get which stream a much more robust digital signal, but I’ll be honest, I don’t think I would be able to tell the difference. I’m not entirely sure they can either.

Photo: David Todd McCarty

Anyone who is old enough to have had vinyl records before it was ironic or retro, is also old enough to damaged their hearing by listening to live music before we knew anything about ear protection. Not to mention that we’re old and our hearing would sort of suck no matter what.

My friend Jerry reminded me today that it was worth listening to your actual stereo, as opposed to your headphones and to do so with some volume. I opened a window and cranked the stereo, but it didn’t do it for me. No bass. Then I thought, “Hey, I’ll bet I could turn up the bass on this thing.” I looked but couldn’t even find a control for it, but I did find a Loudness button, which I’ll be honest I never really understood, but boy did that make a difference. 

Now I’m blasting the neighborhood with Tom Waits, Loudon Wainwright III, Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan, and Lou Reed. It’s nice to listen to this loud, sitting in between two speakers, shaking the desk and a bit of my chest. Now I remember.

Thanks, Jerry.

About the author

David Todd McCarty

David Todd McCarty is a writer, director, photographer and cinematographer. He writes fiction and nonfiction essays as well as journalism. You can see his commercial work at http://www.hoppingfrogstudios.com

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