I was thinking about this the other day as I downloaded the latest Metric album onto my mp3.
When I was little, my dad listened to Sam Cooke and Dionne Warwick on the 8 track player in the car. When I got older I bought vinyl records. In fact, the first single I ever bought was Bad Girls by Diana Ross. I used to love the whole routine of buying them. Walking up and down the aisles of Dutchy's Record Cave and finally settling on the inevitable Smiths album. I'd gently remove the shrink wrap and lovingly slide out the card wrapped disc. If I was lucky there's be photographs of the band on the inner wrap. If I was super lucky, the lyrics would be printed out. If they were, I'd always read them all the way through before playing the record even once. I used to choose my favourite song based on the lyrics and see if I felt the same after I heard it. Good times.
Later I graduated to cassettes but I hated them. You couldn't just skip ahead to a song unless you had a really good player and I didn't. My tapes used to frequently end up in the hungry jaws of my cut-rate Sears player and I had to either spin the cassette on the end of a pen to collect the loose tape it or watch it end up as a kindergarten craft project.
I waited as long as I could before I started buying CDs. It was only when my Violent Femmes album got so scratched it played in half the time, that I thought I should replace it with this "flash in the pan" CD thing. I still have that CD and it plays great.
But now it's on to mp3s. I seriously don't remember the last time I walked into a record store. I don't need to. If I want the lyrics, I google them. I don't have time to pore over them for hours like I used to anyway. All I need the lyrics for is to make sure I don't sing "I smell like a clown, I'm lost and I'm found" while belting out Rio like I did at my friend Jackie's place and humiliating myself for life.
So when was the last time you actually bought a physical album?