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Kendall's Korner: Music devices, formats change but song remains the same

Jeanette Kendall TimesNewspapers

Last week during a stroll through Northwoods Mall, I noticed a new store on the lower level that sells CDs and movies. 

Immediately, I had flashbacks to my time of hanging out at the mall when J.R.’s Music Shop was there. 

“Let’s look in there,” I said to my boyfriend, while making a beeline for the store.

My boyfriend said he was just thinking that it would be nice for the mall to offer music for sale again, and there it was. We were both excited to see a new store to check out as we always tend to go into the same four shops at the mall.

The new store is called f.y.e., which stands for For Your Entertainment, and offers music, games and more. The more includes T-shirts, bobble heads, blankets, posters and other music and movie paraphernalia. I saw some life-size cardboard cutouts of stars, including Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl on “The Walking Dead.” It actually made me jump when I saw it. For a split second, I thought it was a real person. If it was, that would be pretty scary considering he was carrying a crossbow.

As I browsed the aisles, I thought to myself that it is risky to open a store with music and movies nowadays when competing with the same product that is sold on the Internet.

But this store might have a chance because they sell used items for lower prices. They also had a special on some items of buy one and get the second one for a $1. 

After all of this rambling, the main reason I wanted to write this column is to talk about the plethora of music devices I saw in this store.

My how times have changed. 

As I looked at the multitude of headphones in a rainbow of colors and the iPod docking stations and speakers in all shapes and sizes, I was a bit overwhelmed. I have to admit I don’t even know what some of these components are or what they do.

I saw a small speaker unit with rounds lights on it that turned red, blue, green and purple as music played. I also saw speakers that had water in them and a small, egg-shaped speaker that changes colors.

Wow — I thought my stereo in 1979 was high-tech. I had a turntable, 8-track player and receiver, with two huge speakers. These components sat in a cabinet that was about 5-feet long. It was huge, a Cadillac of stereos.

Today, I don’t even know what to shop for to play music. I am somewhat keeping with the times. I do have an iPod. In fact, I just purchased a new one that will probably hold my entire music collection on it, and that’s a lot of music. It’s mind boggling to think about that technology. In the ’70s and ’80s, I had 45s and albums that took up about 3 feet of space in my bedroom. Now I have 3,849 songs (about half of my music collection) on a device that’s 4 inches tall and 2 inches wide and fits in my purse.

I also have an iPod docking station, but that’s about it. There are no fancy speakers that change colors at my house. Perhaps these new-fangled speakers are the replacements for all of the groovy lights I had as a youth decorating my bedroom in the ’70s. I had a red flicker 7-Up can light, a blue lava lamp and a strobe light, which had a clear plastic dome over the light. The light had a colored plastic cylinder over it. When it got hot, it spun around and made prisms of color on my Shaun Cassidy and Andy Gibb posters. It was far out. 

So, as I stood in f.y.e. looking at this stuff, all these thoughts were going through my mind of how times have changed. I thought about how all this stuff is the norm for the younger generation, but if they saw an 8-track tape player, they would likely be scratching their heads.

The way music is produced, the format it is delivered on and the devices we use to hear it have changed greatly over time, but two things that haven’t changed are the desire to make and consume music.

— Jeanette Kendall is the executive editor at TimesNewspapers and the editor of the East Peoria Times-Courier.

Jeanette Kendall