When I was about 22 my dream date and I ended making love on the balcony of a friend’s beach house on a balmy evening with a very high end stereo playing Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks at reasonable volume.
It even happened a few times.
My dream material goods were not fast cars (never been a rev-head) or an iphone (they didn’t exist) or even a mobile phone. No – it was a high-end stereo – probably a beautiful Scottish turntable like a Linn - and a beautiful pair of Italian speakers (I still own my Sonus Fabers – and they cost a couple of thousand dollars then – probably five thousand in today’s money).
That was a long time ago.
Today’s 22 year old wants 5000 songs in his pocket (or 20 thousand), has probably never heard of Astral Weeks, can’t possibly afford a beach shack on the New South Wales coast (they used to be the playthings of the middle class – they now cost millions and are the play things for the super-rich) and wouldn’t give a damn about my Sonus Faber speakers.
Small, portable. Who would have thought that Bob Dylan (of all people!) would wind up squealing about the declining sound quality of modern music. He is right: the sound quality that made Astral Weeks so special is gone. Even the sound of Bob Dylan howling out a pre-Animals version of House of the Rising Sun) is just missing on an iPod.
Which leads me to how much you can stuff up an investment thesis.
If you had told me in 1998 that (a) houses would get bigger, (b) the upper middle class would grow like topsy, (c) the middle class would borrow to finance houses and lifestyles like the upper middle class then I would have thought that high-end stereos would just have a great time.
I would have thought the middle class would continue to have such dreams – and that music – especially at high fidelity (and possibly high volume) would remain key to social lives (or even making love on the balcony).
If I had known how the macroeconomic outcomes were going to look I would purchased Tweeter stock with glee. Tweeter was a chain of big-box stores that sold at a price/quality point above Best-Buy or Circuit City. It was a place where I could fantasize about my favourite consumer goods. Ok – my Sonus Faber speakers might have been a step above Tweeter – but that was sort of the idea.
Well the world that I dreamed about has been smashed up – and I am just another smashed up fuddy-duddy middle aged guy. (Get used to it John.)
Tweeter is being liquidated. John, say goodbye to your once dreams of material goods.
But for the moment I want to leave you with a promo from Tweeter’s liquidation sale.
I guess it tells you what to short. All of this is so yesterday. Like your blogger.
PS. The Animals ruined House of the Rising Sun forever. The first person in the song that Bob Dylan sung was a woman – and it wasn’t her father that was the gambling man – it was her sweetheart. The pain in the lyrics is far more intense that way. I gather the Dylan version is quite close to a version sung by Leadbelly – but I have never heard the Leadbelly version.
Anyway - even if you loathe Bob Dylan (and plenty of people do) listen to this gem. Then buy the CD next time you see it in the discount bin - but only if you too are a fuddy-duddy like me.
PPS. If you are really interested in the anticedents of the house of the rising sun - here is a Joan Baez version from 1960. Obviously this pre-dates either Dylan or the Animals. Baez has a truly stunning voice but Bob Dylan changes the lyrics for the better (much better). If anyone can fine the version of the lyrics either Woodie Guthrie or Leadbelly sung I would be interested.
I think the lyrics were refined to sheer elegance by Bob Dylan and stuffed by the animals.