- The Washington Times - Friday, March 3, 2006

In a recent {url http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article.asp?aid=12102061_1}review{/url} of Bob Spitz’s formidable new {url http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0316803529}Beatles biography{/url}, the critic Terry Teachout includes a canny aside about the artistic innovation that the Beatles so resoundingly crystallized in the ‘60s - the long player, rather than single, as the objet d’art. Teachout writes:

Such famous albums as Glenn Gould’s 1955 recording of the Bach Goldberg Variations, Frank Sinatra’s Only the Lonely, Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, or the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band are not attempts to simulate live performances. They are, rather, unique experiences existing only on record, and the record itself, not the music or the performance, is the art object.
Yet as anyone who’s been paying attention to the music industry knows, that innovation is under serious threat of obsolescence in the post-iTunes paradigm of single downloads and ringtones. Is this a great loss - a brave new world of short attention spans and increasingly disposable pop trifles? For now I’m hedging my bets. But Billboard’s latest digital song {url http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/charts/chart_display.jsp?g=Singles&f;=Hot+Digital+Songs}tabulation{/url} sure won’t hearten Beatles-era classicists.



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