Listening To An Entire Album

My twenty-something daughter called to inform me that she recently listened to the Beatles’ Abbey Road album from beginning to end.  It was a delightful conversation, and I continued thinking about it long after we hung up.  Interesting timing too, because I had recently read that:

A song today only has a 48% chance of being listened to in its entirety. 

To me, it seems like an important and defining fact about modern life.

Two possible explanations for this trend in song-skipping jumped out at me.  Is it related to the average person’s attention span, or could it be that the musical value isn’t gripping enough to hold one’s attention for the full duration?  This would be an interesting topic for research, if one only had the time and the resources to pursue it.

My daughter went on to explain how hearing the whole album had given her a different perspective.   She had had never related these songs to each other, or even defined them to a particular time period.   She went on to explain how it helped her understand the progression between The Beatles earlier and later work.  I enjoyed the conversation, still thinking about the statistics I’d read.

beatles trash
Currently reading:  The inspiration, along with interesting studio details behind every release.

OK, here we go…..

When I was a kid, there was no skip button.  When I first bought an album, I usually sat there and played it in its entirety, examining the cover and sleeve notes. An early example of multi-media packaging was The Beatles double disc known as “The White Album” which came with photos inserted into the record sleeve.  There was also a poster, complete with printed lyrics on the back side.  Like any great book or movie, it was easy to escape, becoming totally immersed in this album,

I’d be less than truthful if I were to say that I never avoided any crummy songs. Even my favorite albums have telltale scratches and pops all around the less desirable tracks.  No matter how careful you are, dropping the point of a sharp needle onto a spinning piece of vinyl takes its toll on the recording.


Fifty-one year-old album

I remember the struggle in 1967 as I stood forever in the record store, stuck with a huge decision about what would be my first LP purchase.  It was between The Doors debut and the Best Of Cream album.  I eventually made a choice, and I still have the recording. My daughters, having grown up with CD’s, enjoy the sound of this crackly old album.  It has been converted to a  set of MP3 files on all of our devices.  When I hear it, I recognize those familiar scratches from the days of a shorter attention span.


I still remember the pain of saving enough to buy The Beatles original double White Album in 1968 at age thirteen, for a whopping $14.  That was big chunk of change for a paperboy back then.  I ended up buying the re-master CD version in 2009.  Coming up soon, the 50th anniversary re-mix of the “White Album” is due to release on Nov 22nd.  I’ll be buying the seven-disc set for my upcoming 63rd birthday, unless someone else in the family thinks of it first.

I sometimes think that listening is a lost art, whether it be dialogue or music.  I have to admit that sometimes, skipping through the bad parts is warranted.  But listening is learning, no matter what’s being played.  Nowadays, the songs I pick have a 95.3 percent of playing in their entirety.

I value audio-based media of all kinds, and was pleased to hear that my daughter enjoyed sticking with an album the entire way through.  She’s a trailblazer!  I doubt that she’ll want to sit through all seven discs of the new White Album Deluxe set though.  In fact, I’ll be happy if she sits though just one of them with me.  But I know she will.  I’ll just need to remember to set the remote within her twenty-something reach.











16 thoughts on “Listening To An Entire Album

  1. I really enjoyed reading about your observations on our tendency of skipping through musical pieces that cannot be comprehended by our ever shortening attention span. When I bought my first records in the late 50’s, I listened to them in their entirety, even the often boring backside of the 45 rpm record. Another phenomenon of our digital age is that music is no longer our prime focus to devote our undivided attention to. Wherever you go, it is used as mere background music in shopping centres, parties, or even at home. Thank you, Des, for this eye-opener! There is a glimmer of hope in the fact that your 20 some old daughter is bucking the trend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed my take on this recent find and my own thoughts on it, Peter. I laughed reading your comment about listening to the boring flip side of the 45’s. I’ve sat through plenty of them myself!
      It made me disproportionately proud when she called me on Saturday morning to give me the news! I guess there’s hope after all 🙂
      Thanks Peter!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I had no idea about this. I have always enjoyed listening to the entire album and still listen to a new one all the way through. I was aware that albums were thoughtfully put together to make a complete statement. Somehow I missed the reality that this must not be true if people are unusual by listening straight through. Then there is the annoying “shuffle” feature that keeps mixing up my songs into a random order if I am not diligent about deselecting it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was surprised too. Now I know what people with headphones connected to their phones are doing, they’re skipping songs!
      I’ve never understood or liked the “shuffle” feature. Why would I want a program to decide what I want to listen to? Thanks Elizabeth.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We don’t seem to focus on anything anymore (& as I write this I am also listening to amazon music, & having at least 3 typed conversations with friends, & trying to write my gratitude blog).
    These days many people don’t even read books in order / in their entirety 😉 I found back in the day when I was listening to cassettes that I’d become “programmed” into knowing what track came next so if I encountered it elsewhere (on the radio / in the shops) then it was un-nerving to be surprised by the next song not being the next track. I must confess to loving picking up a book & flicking it open at a random page & reading some. Sometimes just a paragraph, sometimes to the end of the chapter. Sometimes up to the point where something doesn’t make sense & I have to backtrack through the book til it does 🤣
    I used to like the shuffle function just to mix things up a little. The same as sometimes when I’m driving home I take a different route, a little bit of exploring. it’s a nice way to experience new music too, a new band / track & at least if it’s awful there’s something better just round the corner.
    With so much of everything these days there’s just not enough time or tolerance for things we dislike.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For me, it takes singular focus to get anything accomplished. As for reading, I even read our coffee table books cover-to-cover. Funny how everyone is so different. Thanks for your comment, especially in while performing so many other tasks!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been thinking more about this as I’ve just been listening to music while reading a book 😉
        I skip songs I actively dislike. I also skip songs I’m unfamiliar with. The music is there for part of my brain to sing along to while I’m doing something else, or it’s there as I work to block out the wittering around me. I just can’t spare the concentration to listen to something I don’t know.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree! There is something so wonderful about a brand-new album, and sitting and listening to the whole thing. Sure, some songs were better than others, but that first time, we listened to them all. I also agree that listening, to anything or anyone, has become a lost art. Which is a huge loss for all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It might seem ridiculous, but I found the low percentage of complete song playing somewhat discouraging (lol) An album, OK, I can understand, but please, a whole song? Nope, too much work, please skip.

      Thanks for commenting, Ann, I’m feeling less crotchety knowing there’s a few others out there who get it. Looking forward to listening to my next album…all the way through!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree…if you can’t even listen to an entire song, you must have the attention span of a gnat. Which, sadly, is becoming all too common. But it does help to know that there are other who feel the way we do!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I have to admit to being an outsider here. I grew up in the cassette and CD age and remember to always have stumbled over a song or two I didn’t like about an album. So I was kind of glad to be finally given the option to just skip that one or not even have to buy it in the first place. I’m now on Spotify which you probably consider the climax of bad music listing skills. But there you go. I do, however, treasure certain pieces of music. And I enjoy listening them over from beginning to end a hundred times over.
    All that is to say, having grown up the way I have, I find it even more astonishing and admirable that your daughter did what she did. It speaks of a very respectful and thoughtful way to approach music. I wonder where she picked that up? Tough question 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No, I totally understand, and I’m sometimes there as well. I too enjoy Spotify, and even occasionally listen to FM radio. But sometimes I want to hear a whole album. I’ve never really known my girls to do that, so I was quite surprised me when she shared that with me.

      Another cool thing she shared was that she associates different albums (CD’s) with different projects (mostly home remodeling) I’ve worked on throughout my life. They would be playing in the next room while I had Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins or AC/DC blaring away. They ended up associating these albums with certain times in their childhood, and eventually became big fans of all those bands. It’s been a lot of fun.
      It’s always nice to read that someone “gets” what you’re trying say, even though the point may be a little obscure. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It wasn’t that obscure but you masked it very artfully. You seem to have a wonderful relationship with your girls. Just the simple fact that they talk so openly about what moves them and what they remember. You certainly did something (a lot) right.

        Liked by 1 person

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