One day in the distant future, long after our society has fallen to an alien army or some new up-and-coming species (elktopi?), I hope that they will sift through our cultural ashes in an effort to understand who we were. And I hope that in their search, they stumble upon a perfectly preserved flea market bin of vintage records, and nothing else. Not because those albums accurately depict what life was like for humanity at the apex of its existence, but because all the cover art on records from the 1950s and '60s is so confusing and removed from reality that it looks like it was created in an alternate dimension. Tricking all those elktopi into committing that nonsense into their history books is exactly the kind of final "fuck you" I'd like to rub in the faces of our conquerors.
Here are four facts our grandparents' generation insisted were true ... for some reason.
#4. They Hated Furniture
If the album art is to be trusted from old records, the mid-20th century was a notoriously bad era for sofa manufacturers. Albums across all genres of music have the same type of photograph slapped on their covers -- people sprawled out on the floor like paraplegics who've fallen out of their wheelchairs.
I'm no historian, but I'm fairly confident that furniture had been invented by the 1950s. So where are all the recliners, benches, beds, stools, chairs and couches? Well, a little digging reveals that there are at least a few albums where furniture appears on the cover, but in every single one of those photographs, people look completely baffled as to how sitting on it is supposed to work.
The closest anybody comes to using furniture properly is the guy on the stool in the last photograph, and he looks absolutely miserable that he's not allowed to sit on the floor like everyone else. So furniture clearly exists, but apparently no one quite gets it, or else they are intentionally misunderstanding it. There is no logical reason for this trend, unless somehow this is a long, creepy, fetishized holdout from the Great Depression when everyone had to burn their furniture to keep warm. Or, more likely, it's a weird, sexy way to honor the president who pulled us through that Depression.
... over 20 years later.
#3. They Needed to Be Told What to Listen to at Any Given Moment
Granted, Pandora didn't exist in the '50s and '60s, so it must have been tough to come across new music. I can't fault them for not knowing what songs would go best at parties and what songs are better for crying in cars. But it's still shocking how many vintage albums there are dedicated to giving people a soundtrack to every minute aspect of their day.
It's like having a mix tape that's best suited for every event in your life, and that's fine. It doesn't start teetering into insanity until those events get really specific.
I don't even know what to equate these to in today's music. I think the closest we have are Jock Jams, and even that's a far cry from Music to Lure Pigeons By. Presumably there were mobs of people in 1968 freaking out in parks because they didn't know what to listen to while feeding birds. Unless there are breadcrumbs in that record sleeve, pigeons probably don't care what type of music is pouring out of your wind-up gramophone while you try to lure them into cages. Incidentally, people weren't listening to these albums on Walkmans or anything that's even remotely portable; for every Music to ____ By that includes an outdoor activity, they would have had to lug a record player along with them just to adhere to the suggestion on the front of the album. It was either that or guys were playing Music to Watch Girls By in their own homes and just peeking through the blinds at pedestrians.