TECHNOLOGY is a wonderful thing – no, really.
It all started with the briefest snatch of music and one line from a song. It was the soundtrack to a TV commercial for a computer game entitled “Gears of War 2”. Now, it’s not my sort of game, but the 30-seconds of backing music to the trailer really caught my attention. Unfortunately, all I had to go on was one line from the song: “….You already know how this will end.” and a few notes of the melody that stuck in my head. I HAD to know what it was.
In the “Good Old Days”, tracking down a 7-inch vinyl single of something like this would have been a quest worthy of a Tolkein trilogy. First, you would have to make your way to Woolies (remember them?) and explain as best you could what you were after to the spotty faced “yoof” behind the record counter. He, of course, would be as helpful as a used postage stamp. “We only stock the top twenty, mate.”
You could always try Menzies (remember them?) in the Almondvale Centre, but that was where spotty faced yoof’s sister worked. So no luck here either.
There would then follow endless trips to specialist record stores in Edinburgh, where you would embarrass yourself by humming the tune to the staff. Maybe, if you were unbelievably lucky, a staff member in one of the stores would recognise it. Of course, they wouldn’t have it in stock, but they could order it for you, and it should be delivered next week… or the week after. Perhaps.
If all went well, you could actually have that valuable piece of vinyl on the turntable within a month of first having heard it.
But today, things are different. Very different.
Although I only had seven words of the lyrics, I logged on to the Internet and typed them into lyricsmania.com. Before one minute had passed, I had discovered that it’s a song entitled “How it Ends” by a band called DeVotchka. Before another minute had passed, I had visited iTunes.com, carried out a quick search, purchased the song for 75p, and started downloading it onto my hard drive. While it was downloading, I visited Wikipedia.org and learned that the band’s name comes from the Russian for “young girl”, they hail from Denver and they were nominated for a Grammy Award in 2006.
And that was it. I had found out what the song was, who the artist was – along with a fair bit about their background – AND I was listening to it on my computer. All this within less time than the running length of the song!
What’s more, while the track was being synchronised onto my iPod, I logged on to the Youtube.com video so I could hear it AND watch the performance. Incredible.
Technology. I don’t know how all that stuff works; but I’m glad it does.
And another thing…
A LIFT TO WHITBURN
ENOUGH time has passed for me to recount this story: I was performing for the Institute of Charted Accountants and had the pleasure of meeting one of Scotland’s top solicitors. He told me that he recently gave a lift to a young man who was stranded in Edinburgh; a trip that took him to Whitburn, West Lothian. (Where some are born great, some have greatness thrust upon them, and some are still chucking spears at the buses.)
On the way to Whitburn the solicitor told the young man that he had been to that very town before, at the beginning of his career, and had attended an interview with a local law firm. (Name withheld to protect the innocent). As the young man clambered out of the car at his destination he paused, and asked:
“Ye nivir did get that job ye went after, did ye?”
“No. I didn’t.”
“Well, yoo dun me a favour… Ah can dae yoo a favour, too… Dae ye want me tae pit his windaes in?”