There’s a wee issue when interviewing footballers at the moment. It’s their age — anything between late teens and late thirties. The problem is that the human experience is so different for people at the extremes of that range, if you want to ask someone what their first album was, how do you phrase it?
In my day, an “album” was a 12″ vinyl disc to be played at 33? rpm, usually containing the current singles (7″ vinyl, 45 rpm, fyi) of the act in question, plus some other tracks which were either too interesting or too rubbish to make the Top 40. That paradigm hasn’t shifted much, content-wise, but the medium has gone through cassette (portable but inferior), CD (better sound if your equipment cost less than £500, but expensive, fragile discs), MiniDisc (portable and good, but expensive and forever ‘niche’) and finally on to downloads, with mp3 winning out as the ubiquitous format.
As I write this, I’m 33 (and ½) myself, and had I been good enough at football to be a professional, I might just still be one. I think I’m right in saying that a teenager starting his pro-soccer career today could possibly be aware of what a CD is, but it’s not guaranteed. So that’s why, when devising graphics for a regular spot during football half-times where players answer quick-fire questions, I had to think hard about how to put the question.
“What was the first CD you bought?” is a strange question to me, because it’s basically, “Who were you listening to when you bought your first CD player?” I take it that’s not really what anyone wants to know. Neither, though, can you assume the oldies have got round to skipping the physical medium, going straight for the download. The only answer seemed to be to disregard the medium altogether, and simply call it an album — literally a “collection” of music. I knew that some folk of a certain age knew only CDs, and may not be familiar with the term, album. But, all things considered, it was the best option in my opinion, to cover most eventualities.
Just today, though, as I was editing an interview with an extremely well-spoken footballer who is only three years my junior, I was confounded. The question of his first album was put to him, and he promptly answered: “Word Cup Italia 1990. I couldn’t buy all the stickers in the end, ’cause it was a bit expensive, but yeah, that was my first one.”