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October 11, 2017

Spotting a winner

By Dom Cioffi

A few months ago, one of my coworkers was in my office to discuss an upcoming project. In the middle of our conversation, the internet radio I was tuned into started playing a song that I absolutely love. I abruptly stopped her in mid-sentence and turned up the volume.

“You know who sings this right?” I inquired as I tapped my thumbs to the beat.

Given that she’s a Millennial and grew up in a sheltered family from a small West Virginia town, she almost always fails on these impromptu classic rock music quizzes that I’m known to toss out.

Her general response (a deep sigh coupled with a dejected look) signaled that she had once again resigned herself to not knowing the name of the band I was inquiring about.

This recurring fact has always been troubling to me. But she’s not the only one. I have several late-twenty, early-thirties employees who are completely inept when it comes to the awareness of any music written prior to the year 2000.

I’m not talking obscure stuff either. It’s not as if I’m quizzing them with questions like “Who sang the female back-up on track five of Pink Floyd’s classic ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ album?” No, in this case, even the band’s name stumps them. Time and time again, I’ve thrown out popular names from the music industry only to be met with funny stares and comments like, “Who’s Ned Zeppelin?”

Of course, my employees like to point out that most of the songs I reference were recorded 20-30 years before they were conceived, which always makes me feel twice my age while also reminding me that I could easily be their parent.

Interestingly, after my most recent quiz question, I followed up with the very off-handed comment: “I’ve got to put that song on my list to buy.”

Immediately, my young employee swung around and responded shockingly, “Did you just say ‘buy’?”

“Uh, yeah,” I countered. “I always buy my favorite songs from iTunes. Why?” She suddenly let out a condescending laugh. “No one buys music anymore!” she boasted. “Haven’t you heard of Spotify or Apple Music?” And with that she laughed her way down the hallway, leaving me feeling like a dated curmudgeon.

The truth is that while I have heard of these new listening services and somewhat understand their platform, I have yet to really look into what they offer. However, after being publicly chastised, I decided that I should give these services a look.

Luckily Spotify was running a “Get three months for free” offer so I quickly signed up, figuring three months would be plenty of time to decide whether or not I liked the format.

It took me a few days of fidgeting with the app (which I had loaded onto my computer, iPad, and iPhone), before I got the hang of how things worked. From there, I dove deep to see how obscure their music library went. Surprisingly, I was pulling up tracks from long discontinued albums that I’d never thought I hear again.

It took about two weeks before I was completely converted to the platform. In that time, I discovered more new music than I could have found in a year of using iTunes.

Now, after months of using, I can honestly say that I don’t think I will every buy another song. The future of music listening, in my mind, is definitely subscription based. It’s like have the world’s music collection stored on your hard drive. Sure, it’s going to cost you around $10 a month, but trust me, the convenience and ability to hear new music makes it all worth the cost.

I have since sheepishly admitted to my young employees about my conversion, which they have all taken great pleasure in. The moral of the story: Don’t balk at something because it’s new. You may be surprised how much better it makes your life.

This week’s film, “The Battle of the Sexes,” features something that was new back in the early 1970s – namely, that women tennis players should be treated as equals to men.

Starring Steve Carell and Emma Stone as tennis stars Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, “Battle of the Sexes” follows the story of how King changed the history of sports by making a stand against the chauvinist practices of the pro tennis tour. The film also chronicles King’s enlightenment to her own sexuality and the trauma it caused to her game and marriage.

This was a well-made film with excellent portrayals, but I found myself wishing I was watching a documentary half-way through. I think King’s relationship avenue was overplayed while the historical implications of the Riggs match, and the effect it had on society, was somewhat diminished.

Check this one out if you love tennis or appreciate the moments in history that actually change the way people think.
A rhythmic “B-” for “The Battle of the Sexes.”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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