Tuesday 25 November 2008

The Day the Music Died

(Jussieu Music, 75005)
A long, long time ago the playing of music was based on the revolutions of a disc, but the children of the digital revolution have brought this cycle to an end. The world of music has always been a helter-skelter of cyclical fashions, but the changes today are so radical that we are still not sure what the musical landscape will look like when we get to the bottom. In the city, the first victims of this revolution have clearly been the independent music retailers. Walking along Rue Linné I see bad news on the doorstep - Jussieu music has closed. I can't remember if I cried, but something touched me deep inside.

Being a child of small town suburbia, I grew up thinking that choice was what the major chainstores could provide. Their stock could satisfy my teenage kicks whilst my musical tastes remained mainstream, but when my choices moved more leftfield and I began looking away from current fashions towards the back catalogues, and I began to see that I was lost in the High Street.

Fortunately, around this time I moved to Paris and I discovered a world of small, independent retailers. Each shop had its specialties and idiosyncrasies but all stocked huge ranges of discs, both new and second hand and sometimes more excitingly, dirt cheap pre-release discs sold on to them by music industry insiders. The golden triangle for an afternoon of browsing was Gibert Jeune, Crocodisc, and best of all, Jussieu music. I rarely went to these shops with specific ideas for purchases in mind, but instead flicked through the rows, boxes and shelves of discs, picking out things that interested me, hunting for elusive 69 Franc bargains. It was only rock and roll, but I liked it.

How quickly our youth and young manhood disappears! Today music is streamed in bits and bytes. Slash and burn then return, listen to those notes churn. Do we know what true music sounds like anymore? Files are shared, but music is stuck in individual pods. We've entered a world where quality is less important than the number of titles we can carry around with us, and how easily we can skip and shuffle. Do we still believe that music can save our mortal soul? Here we are all in one place, a generation lost in My Space.

Back to Rue Linné, and the sad sight of the four shops of the Jussieu music empire with the shutters down. What a waste! Once four proud horsemen, now a true apocalypse. It's the end of this world as we know it, and I don't really feel fine. It's coming like a ghost town, all the music shops have been closed down.

It now seems such a long, long time ago, but I'll always remember the good old days when the music played, and how that music used to make me smile. Now it's all so quiet.

Thanks to Tim for suggesting the subject. Now see if you can earn yourself more points by finding all the songs in the post!


Anonymous said...

Honestly, I'm in mourning! I knew the place was struggling and looked like it was on a life support machine, but I didn't know it had gone under.

Jussieu was also my favourite of the independents and over a 10-year period or so was my personal gateway to some pretty amazing music. Would go in not knowing what I'd come across and then rarely leave without less than 4 or 5 CDs in the shiny red Jussieu bag. Would then rip the cellophane packaging off the CDs down on the northbound platform of Line 7, unless of course I was heading off down Rue des Ecoles towards O'CD and Gibert Joseph. Happy memories even though they're not in such a distant past, but in the past they are nevertheless.

Great post and spotted bits of T-Rex, Beatles, Undertones, Stones, REM and Don McLean in there, but I'm sure there must be others (I'm afraid I'm no good at recognising American Music Club references...).

Cergie said...

Je me souviens de l'époque où nous allions écouter les disques dans des boutiques spécialisées, on posait le disque religieusement sur le plateau ; puis il y a eu les cassettes, puis les CD. Chacun a montré ses limites. Les cassettes s'abîment très vite, ne sont pas faciles à manipuler.
Les Cd sont si... parfaits, finalement on ne vient à regretter les grésillements et rayures des vynilles.
J'ai lu que Stevenson avait une petite flûte avec laquelle il se jouait les symphonies en déchiffrant les partitions ! A une époque, la musique devait être jouée in live et cela donnait du travail aux musiciens.

Ceci dit rien ne remplace le direct à mon avis. Les "couacs" des meilleurs instrumentistes, dont le grand trompettiste Maurice André par exemple.
J'ai entendu Sansévérino en concert dans une salle à l'accoustique improbable, l'orchestre était trop fort (cuivres et cordes) et couvrait sa voix. Mais à un moment, il a chanté presque a capella "la maison du port" avec quelques cordes ; ce fut magique : une voix chaude, souple, vivante, présente que je n'ai pas retrouvée dans le disque.

Tu as raison, on ne sait ce que l'avenir réserve, ne serait ce aussi à la photo numérique....

Adam said...

Bonjour Cergie,

Je suis d'accord que la vraie musique existe seulement en 'live', et peut être un des effets de ces changements actuellement est un plus grande nombre de concerts. Malheureusement, c'est presque seulement ici que les artistes arrivent à gagner de l'argent aujourd'hui, et donc les prix des billets ont explosé.

Sinon, pour ce poste, je voulais juste porter l'attention sur les "dommages collatérales" en ville. Si tout existe sur internet, on perd cet élément de musique partagé, et le decouvert de nouveautés un peu par hasard.

Iain said...

Excellent post.

Personally, I don't yearn for the good old days of vinyl, or even really mourn the passing of local music retailers, but I do think that there's an interesting discussion to be had on some of the wider topics. (Files are shared, but music is stuck in individual pods: please discuss...).

Oh, and I'd like to add The Specials to the list of bands. :-)

Adam said...

Hi Iain,

I'll give you The Specials! I think there are 2/3 more in there, but I don't even remember myself!

I think there are plenty of interesting issues being thrown up in the music industry at the moment, but my concern in this blog is how this affects the city. Shops closing down is an obvious change, but indirectly is perhaps a move away from listening to music as almost a community activity to one that has become very individual. Of course, the Walkman is not a new invention, but at least previously we still left our houses to choose the music we wanted to listen to. It was a more physical, concrete, multi-sensory experience, involving the shop and the object of the disc or CD itself, even incorporating art work and the sounds of the music being played in the shop.

Anonymous said...

And of course Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity" wouldn't have been as good if it had been set in the offices of iTunes...

Björk? Is that another one?

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