Saturday, July 09, 2011

Vintage with value

"You can call, you can text, you can post..." said Jeremiah Junior over the radio this morning as I drove to my destination, referring to the assortment of choices listeners have should they want to request a song for him to play.

Funny how the voice was so familiar, yet the things he was saying reflected a different era. Different from what? Well, different from the era in which "texting" and "posting" were unheard of. Specifically, the 1980s, when the only way to request a song -- or to get to talk to the jocks on board for anything -- was by dialing a number on the telephone. It was something I knew well.

Now, however, things are done pretty differently, and I had my taste of it a couple of years ago. I was logged on at Yahoo Messenger and I decided to add one of DWRT's jocks on my buddy list (can't even remember his name). He was online!

We chatted a bit. Then I went, "Can I request a song?" and he said to go ahead.

"Can you please play Rock the Casbah?" (It was 24k Friday then, which meant "old music" the whole day)

Some more chitchat followed...then in less than 2 minutes I could hear the familiar intro of the classic tune from The Clash! Boy, what a pleasantly strange feeling I got. It was like getting accustomed to years of hour-long driving to whatever destination I had, then adjusting to the 20-minute MRT rides and going "Huh? It's my stop already? I'm there!" when it was time to get off.

"This is cool. I get to request a song and I don't even have to make a call," I told myself.

At the same time, part of me thought, "That was too easy. Walang challenge."

After all, before all this texting, posting and online chatting became part of life, one had to do a lot more just to have a chance to hear your requested song on the radio. Well, it was nothing close to hard labor or anything of that sort, but compared to how easy it is to get things done nowadays with the aid of technology, things back then seem now like a lot of work -- and I mean that in a good way. People worked hard for what they wanted to accomplish.

Back then to get a chance to request a song, one walked over to the telephone (no cordless for us at the time), and dialed the number. I'm talking about rotary-dial phones, which is significant in terms of getting accustomed to waiting till the deed is done. One can't not develop even just a bit more patience in the course of repeated dialing on a rotary-dial phone (no "redial" options either). Also, you must remember that groupies, music freaks and other such individuals apart from you are probably trying to do the same thing at the same time, so a busy signal becomes quite familiar before you finally get to hear a ringing sound (hurray!!).

Then, when the request is finally made, it is then time to wait for the song to be played, which can take almost forever. If you plan to record the song, of course you will have set the cassette recorder prior to that and are in for a long wait, all set to press the record key. This may seem trivial now, but to any youngster who grew up during the times of "rewind/fast forward" (cassette recorder) rather than "track __" (CD player), a lot more effort was involved to get things done, even if the goal was merely to record a song and to find it in a cassette tape later on. (Also, due to all this preparation, the song finally hitting the airwaves almost always elicits a squeal of delight.)

For the present generation, sifting through one side of a cassette tape to find a particular song (instead of simply clicking on track number so-and-so on a remote for a CD player) would probably be akin to going through a card catalogue (one that involves dozens of drawers and hundreds of index cards) to find a book rather than looking it up online and having the computer do everything for them to locate the book.

So, much as I was thrilled by the novelty of getting to request a song and hear it right away -- and with nothing as much as a few strokes on a keyboard -- the fact that it was too easy made the excitement superficial (and short-lived). Still, it was a thrill. And it made me appreciate all that "work" that growing up in the'70s and '80s entailed. Okay, it may have been just repeated dialing on a rotary-dial phone, but little did I know that such a device two decades later would signify much more than "vintage." Try "challenge."

So, maybe I'll YM that jock again sometime, request another song, and get ready for a few seconds of excitement upon hearing it. I guess I can't expect much more when things come too easy.


petrufied said...

guys in the 80s must've had it tougher too bec they had to call the girl's house and chat up anyone who picked up the phone first. now they can just dial directly. :P

sunnyday said...

And now they can "hide behind" text messaging, and wait for replies. Parang it's not helpful to shy guys that way. Dati kailangan magpakatapang ka talaga. And as one guy said, it was agonizing to call up a girl he liked because each digit he dialed seemed to take so long to be finished (especially if the telephone number had plenty of zeroes, heehee).

Ishmael Fischer Ahab said...

As a 90's kid eh medyo nakaka-relate ako sa post mo. Pero ang kaibahan ay wala kaming phone and hindi ako mahilig mag-request ng songs.

Noong panahon na iyon para marinig mo yung fave music mo eh kailangang maghintay ka sa radyo or bili ka ng sarili mong cassette tape.

Ngayon mag-search ka lang sa Internet eh ma-download mo na yung gusto mong kanta.

Everything is easy today na minsan nasasanay na yung tao sa "instant" kaya ang gusto nila instant na pagyaman, instant solutions, etc.

sunnyday said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sunnyday said...

Don't forget instant noodles :-D

I forgot about that -- pwede ka na nga palang mag-download ng music sa Internet. Dati hihintayin mo munang magkaroon ng at least 2 or 3 hit songs in one record (or cassette tape) bago mo bilhin. Hindi naman yon rule pero sa akin tsaka sa mga friends ko, parang ganun ang naging standard para naman sulit at hindi bili ng bili lang basta gusto.

Ishmael Fischer Ahab said...

I never thought na may ganun palang standard sa pagbili ng casette. Hehe. Noong teen kasi ako wala akong inasikaso kundi ang paglalaro. Hehe.

gsk said...

Love "Rock the Casbah." Yes, one family telephone could be frustrating, but it meant that it was harder to stray (meaning: do what we knew was wrong) Not impossible, of course, just harder. Cell phones make it easier for me to coordinate with kids (especially school pick-ups) but you're right -- they also change the whole dating dynamic. Good post!

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