Once upon a time, the single was the music industry’s dominant format. From the 78 era well into the ’60s, what most people wanted was an inexpensive record with the hit on the A-side and a song they didn’t bother listening to on the B-side. The Beatles made albums the dominant format. Prior to Sgt. Pepper, long players were usually just collections of a couple of singles and a few filler tracks. After Sgt. Pepper, bands wanted to take full advantage of the broader canvas inherent to the LP, and labels wanted the higher retail prices fetched by albums.
But the single hung in there well into the ’80s. As new formats emerged, the labels experimented with the cassette single, or cassingle, and the 3-inch CD single (as opposed to the standard 5-inch CD), but for all intents and purposes the album remained the dominant format for nearly 50 years.
And then the internet arrived, first in the form of Napster, then iTunes, and finally streaming services. Once again, the single is the dominant music industry format. The difference? People pay to own nothing. Future fans of K-pop, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, etc., won’t have anything to show for their misspent money.
Just look at what they’re missing–the picture sleeves, the colorful labels, the obscure b-sides; the memories of where they were when they bought this record of that one. Specific to my Lennon singles, what I love is the alternative story they tell of Yoko’s importance to John. Flip through the photos below and you won’t see the shrill harpy that broke up the band (or whatever version of the Yoko story you think you know), but rather the woman John clearly loved and a true creative partner.
None of these singles will cost you more than a couple of bucks, which is a pretty low price to start your career as a curator for future music fans. Happy hunting.