Billy Joel — “My Life” (from 52nd Street) —
Forgive me for showing up late to this party (been swamped with work stuff the past couple of weeks), but I recently ran across a fascinating article regarding the compact disc, which marked its thirtieth birthday last week, and which has brought into my life no small measure of joy for much more than half that number of years. And that led me scurrying to learn all manner of things I hadn’t previously known about the medium and its rocky inception: born of a decade-long competition-turned-collaboration between Sony and Philips (although, by most accounts, Sony — still stinging from the stunning failure of its Betamax technology as a viable alternative to the then-explosive popularity of VHS home cassette recorders — had much more on the line (and arguably much more to gain) from ensuring that the music industry adopt and embrace their stunning entertainment innovation), the very first CD player made its debut in Japan on October 1, 1982, accompanied by Billy Joel’s triumphant Grammy winner 52nd Street, the first album to be released on the new format, which wouldn’t make its way to America until five months later, when the technology — with its crystalline audio and staggering ease of use (no more counting grooves on a record, nor blindly fast-forwarding a flimsy cassette tape that the stereo was likely to eat anyhow) — really took flight. Three decades hence, with the effortlessly ephemeral digital music boom in full ascent and record stores dropping like so many wilted roses, the impending death of the compact disc is being predicted (and, often, cheered) from many corners of the business, but we here at the Buzz wish to raise a glass to our preferred method of delivery for the magnificent music that we celebrate with such glee (and, on our best days, such grace) on this very website. Happy thirtieth, CD.