As I was listening to Under a Blood Red Sky that night, I realized that, ever since I had bought my first MP3 player, I hadn't really listened to an album all the way through in a very long time. When I was a teenager, I would listen to the whole album before deciding on favourites. I had a theory that if the lead single was the first track of the album, the rest of the album usually sucked. I also liked finding hidden tracks (in the days before the internet, I would usually find them by being woken from my sleep when I let the CD play all the way through).
However, since I've had an iPod, I usually just download the one song I want and avoid the rest. This was amazing to me, at first, as I wouldn't have to buy all of a crap pop album for the one song I liked like I did when I was a kid. But now I have like two tracks from an album and nothing else. Even with my current favourite bands like Black Keys, The Gossip, Lykke Li, and Franz Ferdinand, I don't own a full album by any of them. The only time I would venture further into an album was when I heard a song I liked at a concert and looked it up (looking at you, "Lucid Dreams" by Franz).
I also realized that, of U2's last two album, I had only listened to "No Line" in full because I was going to their concert in Vancouver and I needed to "study up". I still haven't listened to "Atomic Bomb" all the way through (and only like non single "Love and Peace or Else" because of U23D).
Maybe it's due to cheapness. When I was a kid, CDs in my hometown were 30 bucks each so I had to be absolutely certain I loved a band before I bought it (Greatest Hits were a godsend for me). Now I'd rather pay 99 cents for a song I know I like than risk 10 bucks on an album I don't love.
But I think things may be changing after the record player came into my room. I bought Bella Donna by Stevie Nicks on Boxing Day because I love "Edge of Seventeen" and heck Stevie Nicks is awesome. Despite Edge of Seventeen being the first track on side 2, I listened to side 1 first and just let it play while I was reading. And I liked it a lot. I felt like a teenager again when I would sit around and let a CD I hadn't heard play in the background.
I'm still going to stick to iTunes but I think I may be willing to go to the record store and see what I can find. It's like looking for treasure.