Monday, June 30, 2008

Both Sides Now

My recent comment about nearly splitting up with my then girlfriend over a Side 1 vs Side 2 issue drew a very heavy response, or should have. Let me explain. Early in our relationship, she the habit of putting on albums without regard to the side so, as often as not, you’d get side 2 first.

We didn’t actually split up. I did call a lawyer, who pointed out that since I wasn’t yet married, he wouldn't be needed. He added that he didn’t think the issue fell under “irreconcilable differences”, anyway, and offered the services of his brother, a psychiatrist.

So I may be in the minority regarding the seriousness of this issue, especially with the advent of the CD. But if vinyl ever makes a comeback, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The problem stems from an assumption (held predominantly by women who just don't take these things seriously enough) that songs are just thrown on a record in random order, so it doesn’t matter what side you play first. This, of course, is patently absurd. Vinyl has always been labeled Sides One and Two, or A and B. Yeah, I know that some artists have put out records that are labeled “This Side” and “That Side”, or some such thing, as if to obfuscate the whole issue. Well, they’re kidding themselves. One of those sides was meant to be side one. You know it. I know it. They know it.

Let’s not even get into song sequence. (Oh, why not? I can just hear the artist now, figuring it all out: “Hey, now, that one would sound better first, and this one would make a boffo ending, and here’s an almost-as-good ending so let’s put that at the end of side one, and, well, that one isn’t great so lets put it after the great one, and we’re gonna have a mini intermission so we’ll need an opener for act 2... You see? It just can’t be helped.)

And what if you played “Tommy” out of order? Thanks to you, a fairly normal kid would end up going blind, deaf and dumb. Do you want that on your head?

I’ll even take it a step further and say that Elvis Costello was wrong when he labeled the sides to “Get Happy!!” He got it backwards. Just listen to that album on vinyl (what do you mean you don’t have it? Go get it, and meet me back here.) and tell me that “I Can’t Stand Up” isn’t the album opener. “Love for Tender” is a classic side two opener. “Hi Fidelity” and not “Riot Act”, is the album closer. I’m boycotting the CD. Yeah, Elvis, you heard me.

Wasn’t the whole point of the invention of the CD to prevent women from pulling this kind of nonsense? Now if you want to start with Side 2 you’ll just have to read the CD player manual and program it that way. Just won’t happen.

And did you ever think that the whole toilet seat issue might just be the male response to the LP issue? Ladies, I’ll make a deal with you. You put on the side of the record I like, and I’ll make sure you see the side of the toilet seat you like.

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