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What's Missing?

So, it’s been a couple of crazy months. About a week after last semester ended, I jumped into a Maymester experience the same week I landed behind the booth at WUSC. During that short week break, I rebuilt my analog stereo setup at the house and went music shopping at some of my favorite places. My goal was to have enough music to get through a few weeks at the station and play a little bit of fun music for the dedicated summer listeners. I picked up what I thought was enough music for a while and hit the house turntable to check it out. I hit it hard.

Not enough music.

Never enough music.

I wanted to have interesting stuff to share at the station, and if I was playing way late at night (or basically early in the morning), I wanted to be able to entertain myself there at least. Don’t get me wrong… the library at the station is full of music – so full it’s literally bursting at the seams. The issue here is that it takes weeks…months… years to go through. I wanted to play the music I knew well. Very well. I needed a quick fix.

I hadn’t updated my personal collection in years – been stuck in some kind of digital electronic hell where I truly thought that the music that I was streaming had some listening value. I’m not sure where I went off course. I got lazy. I got Alexa. I had streaming services. I truly thought that what I was hearing was beneficial to my mood, attitude, and listening pleasure. 

Until this little experience, I hadn’t realized how wrong I was – how much I was missing. Truly, if you’re cruising in a car or working in a foundry it might be hard to hear true fidelity, and digital streaming or downloads will suffice. But I recommend the clear, crystal sounds of high fidelity for the eargasmic revelations of organically produced and distributed analog music. After a couple hundred bucks spent wisely at Papa Jazz (where you can’t go wrong), I scurried home with my treasure and reveled in my selections.

Here’s what happened; I fell in love with music again.

If you know me, and some folks around here have known me since the seventies, they can vouch for my affliction. Personal collections of stacks and stacks of albums around the house, playing music publicly since working in Group Therapy, Pavlov’s and other places long gone, Club DJ at the beach and private parties, always a tune going, whether from a device or organic instrument, music has been an important part of my carriage. So here I was, mushed and distorted into believing that what I was listening to on the ‘convenient’ digital output was good music.

Look, I don’t need Spotify or Apple Music after me for dissin’ their honeypot, but when I put the needle on the record and heard those glorious analog waves emanating from my old Pioneer CS-99s, I felt the blast of hot air coming from the monster Pioneer amp, saw the amber and green glow from the stereo rack in my living room and felt the floor shake with cool, clear bass notes, I knew INSTANTLY what I had been missing. I turned off the phone and the computer, turned down the lights, turned up the music, lit a few candles, and reclined on the big sofa with my own honeypot.

Heaven. Pure heaven.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a world where you’ve never experienced the full analog sound of music as it was recorded – as it was played. I certainly don’t want it to disappear from us. In fact, WUSC–FM is a MAJOR factor in keeping that sound alive in Columbia and beyond. 

I won’t get into the whole ‘stair-step’ digital audio replication discussion – that’s a story for another day. I’m not gonna get into the whole ‘Group Therapy Sweet Spot’ story either. If you were there, you know what I’m talking about. I promise I’ll revisit that ON THIS PAGE, so be sure to stay tuned but suffice it to say that if you’re downloading music and streaming your life away, I get it, but you might be missing something.

Philip Whitehead

I came to Carolina for an Art Studio degree and I like to fill my time making art and playing music I like for people at WUSC and beyond!

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