The Language of the Album

As part of my blog tour Hit the Road Jack ’15, I have been featuring essays here each Wednesday from authors, writers, musicians and music lovers from all over the world.

Today, I am happy to have Brigid visit us with a piece about the lost art and appreciation for the album as the world sinks into the instant gratification of the single.  Brigid is an editor, writer, and one-time DJ.  She hails from Philadelphia, the other big city in my home state of Pennsylvania.

The Language of the Album

“What’s your favorite song?

“Umm……”

As an avid music lover and college radio DJ, people have been asking me about favorite songs lately and if I am completely honest, I never know what to say. In my head, songs are only a glimpse into a much bigger, more detailed piece of work. In the digital age of producing “singles” over albums, I think the craftsmanship has been lost a little bit. Creating an album is almost like a lost art or a dead language. While there are still artists out there making albums, and great albums at that, consumers seem to be more interested in the single.

So, after a lot of reflection, I often tell people that I don’t have favorite songs, I have favorite albums. And there are several on the list. From The Beatles to Broadway musical scores, even to alternative and indie records, I have come across so many albums in my life that have changed my perspective on genres of music and even the way in which music is made.

For me, I take a single song as a part of a whole. It completes a musical journey that an artist invites you to go through with them. While songs can stand on their own, I can never find myself just picking one as my favorite. I go back to an album and listen to it repeatedly in its entirety. And I always listen in order. I firmly believe that the artist put the songs in a certain order for a reason, so that’s they way they should be listened to.

Growing up, my family listened to a lot of classic rock. My mom adores Queen and I cannot go to a bar without playing Bohemian Rhapsody and singing along with every word and instrument-it’s a tradition. For me, The Beatles were a huge influence in my musical taste and shaped my appreciation for the music my parents grew up listening to. To this day, I will listen to classic rock radio over any other station.

The two albums by The Beatles that have meant the most to me are Revolver and Rubber Soul.  Revolver was one of the first full albums by The Beatles I had listened to and so many things about the songs and the musicality struck a chord with me. It was amazing to hear all the elements and instruments used and how all the different pieces fit so cohesively together. Rubber Soul has music that spoke to me as a person. That album taught me to think for myself and tugged at my heartstrings with the ever beautiful “In My Life.” And again, every single song, no matter how different, worked together to create a whole work of art that was able to reach people. Even reach the mind of a young girl growing up in the early 2000s.

Another album that has shaped my appreciation of the album is The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists. The wonderful thing about this album is that it tells one story. The story is a rock opera about a girl who falls in love with a mythical shapeshifter. The band wove together this story line with enchanting music to create a piece of art that must be appreciated as a whole. Each song effortlessly turns into the next to create a feeling that it truly is only one piece. It would be unjust to pick apart this album as songs and not listen to it all together.

When The Decemberists released The Hazards of Love, they went on tour, and played at Tower Theater in Upper Darby, outside of Philadelphia. I was 15 years old and it was my first concert. Needless to say, it is an event I will always remember.

As a starry-eyed teenager I eagerly walked the streets of Philadelphia with one of my best friends and her father. Since this day I have only walked down the street to the Tower Theater one other time, and the magic is still there. We entered the theater and took our seats, eagerly awaiting the start of the show.

The band’s first set was the entire album The Hazards of Love. I was mesmerized by the musicality of everyone on stage, instruments covered every corner and none went unplayed throughout the night. Just like in the album, each song’s ending was the next song’s beginning and I wondered how these musicians could last this long without a single break. I was hooked. The live version of The Hazards of Love far surpassed the recording, simply because of the tenacity of those performing on stage. I watched in awe for an hour and will never forget such an amazing musical experience.

Brigid Edmunds

Brigid is a junior Communications major at Marywood University. She is an editor at Marywood’s paper, The Wood Word, and a freelance writer. In her spare time she wears a poodle skirt and works at a 50s diner.

She has a mild tea and iPhone obsession. One of her life goals is to become “Twitter famous.” As both a journalist and a typical college student, she is an avid social media user. She writes a personal blog in her spare time, The world through the eyes of a twenty-something, that highlights some of the crazy thoughts she has about current events and different things that go on in society.

In her spare time she enjoys yoga, Netflix binges, and cheese.

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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3 Responses to “The Language of the Album”

  1. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 19, 2015 at 3:12 pm #

    This is such a great post! My husband and I were just talking the other night about how the album is a lost treasure in some regards. We both remember the days when if you loved a single, you had to purchase the entire album to get it. I made my first purchases on cassette tapes so to get to that one song, you had to commit to the entire thing or else risk ruining your tape. In the process of getting to that one song, I learned to enjoy and appreciate and even love many others that I might not otherwise have heard. It’s a part of listening to music that I love and so I always make the choice to buy entire albums – in whatever way they exist today – so I can still enjoy that experience.

  2. Pat DiCesare April 19, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    Jen, thanks for being a part of our blog tour.

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  1. Did You Read This? 3/14 - 3/20 | The Insomniacs Dream - March 21, 2015

    […] was featured as a guest blogger on Pat’s blog where she writes about the lost art of the album in a world of singles and the instant gratification of downloadable […]

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