Music is an important part of the fabric of culture. The music of every generation is a reflection of the hopes, dreams, fears, attitudes and morals of its day. The powerful write the history, but the people write the songs. Compare the music of WW II with the music of the Vietnam era and you’ll hear the history they don’t write about in books.
Everything from the Roaring Twenties, to the Great Depression, the civil rights struggle, the optimistic fifties, turbulent sixties, the glitz and excess of the eighties, and confusion, disappointment and fears of today, are reflected in the music.
The preservation of a society’s music is every bit as vital as the preservation of its art and literature. Unfortunately two things have impeded our ability to preserve our precious musical heritage: Major record labels have destroyed the original master tapes of decades of American musical history. In countless cases, the original recordings no longer exist. Many have been digitized; transferred to compact disks. But all too many, just destroyed.
Digital preservation would be fine were it not for the fact that CDs have a life-span of just 15 to 20 years. In a few short years, the information on your CDs will just begin to disappear. Forever.
But it’s more than merely preserving the songs. It’s also about the art, the photography, and liner notes, and the rich, warm sound of the original analog recordings. You can look at a digitally reproduced image of the Mona Lisa, but it can’t compare with the joy of experiencing the original. The music is no different.
If you started listening to the music in this collection on the day you were born, and listened every minute of every day, by the time you finished, you’d be 57 years old. That’s a lot of music. And it’s a lot of history.