Monday, August 16, 2010

The Issue at Hand

In 2002, I finally left my job as a local buyer for a major brick and mortar music chain that shortly thereafter went out of business. It was the dream slacker job, I was surrounded by music and even better, I was wooed by Music Reps on a weekly basis. One by one, they would come in the store and spend a few minutes each trying to woo me to carry their artists in our tiny store.

This meant promotional materials, concert tickets, meeting artists. But more than anything, it meant free CDs. Dozens and dozens every week, I carted promotional CDs to my bus and drove them home, adding them to the growing stack in my apartment.

By the time I quit to finally complete my college education, I had roughly 3,000 CDs. "Packing my belongings" came to mean gathering up this massive collection of randomly assembled CDs and moving them to the next place I would live.

But here's the thing--Even in 2002 the idea of a massive CD collection was becoming out of date. My store was going under in part because of downloading, legal and otherwise. iPods were taking off, the idea of hauling these low storage, fragile formats around was already becoming ridiculous.

But I did it. In fact, I still do it. I recently had to move and had to spend time and money just on negotiating the transfer of this...collection, this albatross that now followed me.

And with digital storage and downloading, 3,000 CDs doesn't even register as a large collection. Kids wandering out of High School enter college with similar collections conveniently squirreled away on their hard-drives.

And the thing is, I've done the math, I don't really know that I have the time to listen to all of it. If I listened to three CDs a day every day it would take me almost three years to listen to everything once. Music has become an entirely disposable resource.

In the meantime, my albatross follows me from house to house. Even worse, I don't even know what's in it. These aren't hand selected CDs, each one a valued and heartfelt part of a collection that tells the story of my ever evolving musical tastes. These represent CDs whose threshold was, "Do I feel like carrying this CD home?" Someone who wanted me to sell this CD thought (hoped) I would like it. Eight years on, more than half of the albatross includes CDs that haven't even been opened yet.
So here's what I've decided to do. I am going to bring this dated monstrosity into the 21st century. I will, one by one, digitize this collection, go through it and come to terms with what has been following me this entire time.

This won't be a music review blog, I don't have the press releases for the albums, in many instances I don't even have the jewel cases or liner notes. I won't know any more about these artists and albums than Google will be able to tell me. I will be giving my impression of the music, but largely in the context of my relationship to it and how I regard having dragged it around this entire time.

Why should you care? I don't know, to be honest. Maybe you want to live vicariously through the ears of an obsessive hoarder. Maybe you, too, are a record store refugee with an albatross of your own, because here's the scariest part: I wasn't even in the top five in regards to CD collections at my small store. Tremble. Enjoy. Mock. Whatever floats your boat.

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