Music to Walk Dogs By*

Welcome to an especially tortured post in which we mash several variations of the same topic into one writing. We blame the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for recently reporting that for the first time since 1987, vinyl record sales surpassed CDs. And yes, we do talk about dogs. Eventually.

For the youngsters who might ask, “What’s a vinyl record?”  Well, grasshoppers, back when dinosaurs roamed, it was how the world listened to music. Analog audio recordings were pressed in vinyl, and for anyone interested in learning how that was done, click here.  We’re moving on by opining that every generation probably thinks the technology of their time is the best. Certainly, new technology is cutting edge from what it replaced. But is it better?

Those who cling to their old 45s and 33s are regarded as luddites who just can’t give up the culture of vinyl records: The album jackets, the liner notes, the act of putting a record on a turntable, how to hold it, how to clean it, and the needle that played it.

Technophiles would be wrong in one aspect. Hi-fi music enthusiasts, and audiophile experts like our friend, and Corgi owner, Michael Fremer, never stopped believing that analog sound in vinyl records is the purest audio recording.  Perhaps that’s why 41 million vinyl records were sold in the U.S. in 2022 compared to the 33.4 million CD albums sold the same year. Audiophiles believe that a pure analogue signal is what gives vinyl a richness that many digital recordings have tried – and failed to duplicate.

Here we segue to “Walking the Dog,” a musical number written by George Gershwin in 1937 for the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, Shall We Dance. Listening through the computer, cell phone or ipad that you’re probably using to read this won’t help you hear the robust notes of the score, but at a minimum, you’ll be able to see the scene. By way of setting it up, the scene takes place on an ocean liner. Ballet dancer (Fred Astaire) wants to meet the pretty tap dancer (Ginger Rogers) she walks her little dog every night on the deck. He gets the idea that the best way to get her to notice him is to walk dogs too, and does he ever. Check out the different breeds Astaire has at the end of the leashes – and how different one or two of the breeds looked 86 years ago.

Sadly, George Gershwin was already suffering from the brain tumor that killed him shortly after production of the movie. As for the dogs, Hollywood wasn’t good about giving dogs credits back then unless they were Lassie, Asta, or Rin Tin Tin.

*Apologies to grammarians for ending a sentence in a preposition!

Image of Poodle in headphones by © Sergey Rasulov | Dreamstime

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