I just had a sudden flashback: Do you remember buying a single hit song on CD or cassette (the famous “cassingle”)?
This is something completely foreign to anyone younger than me, I think (and I land squarely in the X-ennial sub-generation). Anyone much younger than me obtained single songs from bands via file-sharing websites like Napster or legit sources like iTunes and Spotify. Before that, record labels would release single songs (or pairs of songs) for purchase before releasing the full albums. In earlier years, this was obviously done on 45’s, but for my moment in musical history, it was a mix of the cassingle and the CD single.
I’m not even talking about EPs that band would release with 5 or 6 songs. No, no, no. Four songs max: The big hit, an alternative take (different production, maybe different vocals), a “B-side” track (another hold-over from the vinyl days), and maybe an instrumental/backing track of the hit.
I remember buying more than a few singles in my teens. While I can’t recall any cassette singles I purchased, I definitely remember the CD singles from my high school and college days. For your enjoyment and potential mockery, here’s a “greatest hits” sampling of my purchased CD singles:
Jesus is Still Alright – DC Talk: I picked up more than a couple of DC Talk’s CD singles (Gotee Records knew what they were doing here). Not only did the one for “Jesus is Still Alright” have the album version, it also included a techno version.
Flood – Jars of Clay: Look, this is already one of the best Christian rock songs to come out of the mid-90’s. But the “rock version” of this song? Even better.
Secret Garden – Bruce Springsteen: Yes, the song from the Jerry Macguire soundtrack. Look, there was this girl in high school I was crushing on pretty hard, and she was both flirty and elusive. This song hit hard. I regret nothing… Okay, I regret actually giving her the CD single.
Change the World – Eric Clapton: Oh yes, I bought the “Phenomenon” tie-in CD single of this one. I just dig this song, dude.
Kiss Me – Sixpence None the Richer: Look, okay. I was a romantic in college, all right? A lovelorn and pathetic romantic. And I loved this song. I *still* love this song. Whatever. Next track.
When I Get You Alone – Robin Thicke: Before he was making bad choices on “Blurred Lines,” he was making slightly-less-bad choices and sampling “A Fifth of Beethoven” on this super-bouncy track. I heard it on the radio and dug it. I listened to the CD single a lot, despite some of the more risque lyrics. It’s still super-catchy.
The Robin Thicke CD single is the last one I remember buying, though there may have been a few more around that era. But just a few years before, Steve Jobs ushered in the iPod revolution, and I eventually converted to digital downloads for new songs.
I’m having a lot of these nostalgic moments lately. There are so many of these cultural artifacts that may have ended with my analog-to-digital generation. But who knows? There seems to be a resurgence of physical media these days; maybe the CD or cassette single will make a comeback. One can only hope.
Do you remember buying cassette or CD singles? What were some of your favorites? Hit me up in the comments!