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We Take for Granted…

… the luxury of being able to take for granted the many luxuries that we moderns daily enjoy.  That’s a summary of my latest column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  A slice:

Consider recorded music. Not until 1877 was music recorded in a way that could be played back. Before then, every note of music ever heard by any human was performed live and within earshot of listeners, never to be heard again. Today, in splendid contrast, nearly all experiences of listening to music result from playbacks of music recorded in the past and well out of earshot of listeners. Just this morning on my way to work, I listened to John, Paul, George and Ringo perform “She Loves You,” recorded 55 years ago and an ocean away — and two of its performers have long been dead. Yet, despite being alone in a moving car, it was as if I were in the Beatles’ presence as they performed.

Imagine how much drearier our lives would be without recorded music.

Likewise with more individualized communications. Who among us stops to marvel that we can pick up a small slab, press a few buttons, and within seconds converse in real time with a loved one or friend thousands of miles away? Each of us, every day of our lives, routinely talks with people who would have been impossible for us to speak to, in real time, just a few generations ago.


Recorded on July 1, 1963, “She Loves You” helped set a record by being (quoting Wikipedia) “one of the five Beatles songs that held the top five positions in the charts simultaneously, on 4 April 1964” – 54 years ago this very day.