Yesterday, while perusing the best seller albums chart published weekly in Philadelphia's Sunday Inquirer I noticed that David Bowie's The Next Day, his first new album of original music in a decade, debuted at number one. The top ten albums also included recent releases by Eric Clapton, whose Old Sock landed at number five, and a man who passed away over forty years ago, Jimi Hendrix. The Seattle legend's new CD, People, Hell & Angels, placed just a couple of notches below Clapton's.
Even though I'm not a Bowie fan I smiled, and for a fleeting second I thought, "WOW! The old classic rockers can still bring it." When I regained consciousness I quickly realized that the reason these guys are still selling complete albums well enough to make the top ten is because the young people of the digital age, who I almost gave a lot of credit to for listening to the old stuff, aren't buying full albums anymore. They've moved on to either buying individual tracks or somehow getting their music for free. So, while the veterans can still put on a very good showing, it's virtually only the baby boomers who are sending these guys back into the top of the pops.
Many of us who grew up on vinyl can't seem to break away from the thought of buying a complete album online, even if we have the opportunity to buy only individual tracks. Therefore, except in very rare cases (The Beatles' "Revolution #9" and Chicago Transit Authority's "Free Form Guitar" for instance) I always download an entire CD or a new mp3 purchase, even the songs I don't much care for. It just doesn't feel like I'm taking in the fully intended musical experience if I don't have the whole thing.
It's good that the three stars are still releasing viable music that their fans want to hear and my congratulations go out to Bowie, Clapton, and the late Hendrix. However, I must learn to keep their twenty-first century chart successes in perspective.