High Fidelity was on cable the other night. It’s a real period piece, not because of the clothes or the time (late 90’s), or even the music. What dates it is that it takes place when finding a wide variety of different and sometimes obscure music was actual work. For example, one of the record nerd characters impresses a woman by pointing out the influences of one of her favorite bands. A little over ten years ago, finding out that information was a trip to the record store and a discussion with some geek, or consultation with some fanzine. Now it’s a couple of clicks on Wikipedia. Another example: I wanted to listen to the High Fidelity soundtrack, but instead on Spotify I found a playlist of every single song mentioned in the movie. Compiling something like that in the late 90’s would have been a herculean task.
Obviously this isn’t all good news, especially for independent record stores like the one portrayed in the movie (though there are still a few indy survivors around in my town, while the big chain stores have all left the scene). That said, the whole process of music discovery has become incredibly easy compared to what it was.
I’ve embedded another example: I wanted the original video of Elvis Costello’s “High Fidelity” – impossible to find a while back, now it’s just a YouTube search. I realize that the jaded response to this is “duh, the Internet” but once in a while it’s worth a reminder just how much has changed so quickly.