Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

CD or not CD?

As I turned the screws for the wall-mounted Ikea CD racks, purchased at least a year ago to get our collection out of the closet, I listened to my iPod shuffle (2nd generation, bought as a refurb), loaded mostly with music that I do not own on CD.

Once the three racks were soundly mounted on the wall studs, I took stock of the artists’ names on the CD spines: 10,000 Maniacs, Indigo Girls, Pearl Jam, Prince, Extreme, Big Audio Dynamite, Sarah McLachlan, Erasure, Yaz, King’s X, The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Lightning Seeds, PM Dawn, and many more.

Notice a pattern there?

I undertook this project to free up space in the closet and to make the CD’s more accessible as I continue ripping them onto the PS3. Spending so much time with my shiny friends again reminded me of how I had come to own many of them.

While earning my undergraduate degree, I could cash a $30 check each week for spending money. It was a nice perk of my folks’ having worked so hard to sock away money for a college fund.

How did I spend most of that “walking around” money?

On music CD’s. Sure, I had a cheap date here and there, and when I had girlfriends I’m sure I spent most of the money hanging out with them. I guess I chose girlfriends well; they saw the practicality of eating most meals at the University cafeteria and only occasionally splurging at a restaurant.

Before you go calling me a hopeless non-romantic, remember that while not waiting in the cafeteria’s wok line I was writing love poetry. Looking back I suppose they might have preferred steaks over stanzas, but they didn’t complain.

No matter what else was going on in my life, I could count on going to the bank and cashing my weekly check, and then making the short trip across the parking lot to Hasting’s Books, Music, and Video.

The above is why my CD collection consists largely of music made in the early to mid 1990’s. While not a bad era in music, I’m not sure it offered enough quality music for my buying sometimes three or four CD’s a month.

That helps explain how I ended up with The Dan Reed Network.

How else was I going to replenish my music supply after my freshman year, when during a Bible thumper period I tossed many “sinful” discs to their demise?

What I have left now are the discs that survived that purge and those that made the pawn shop cut when we were strapped for cash. While I rarely wish I could spin up a little Winger, I often have a hankering for some Judas Priest. Although neither of those made it back into the fold, my own HOTT RATT compilation recaptures some of my hair-band glory.

Sure, Shannon and I have added many titles over the years we’ve been married, but mostly we’ve increased the number of discs by a select few bands – those we’re pretty sure are good buying risks. I have no less than eight CD’s by Beck and three by Cake, and Jack Johnson is catching up. I won’t discuss the number of Maroon 5 CD’s in our house.

One might say, “Why are you still living in the 20th century? Downloads are where it’s at.” The simple answer is that while I have bought some music directly from the Internet, I’m too much of an audiophile to settle for that quality when it’s something I really like. I truly can hear the difference between the files I download and those that I rip from CD’s myself. Online music services’ bit rates have increased over the years, so maybe some day they will reach a level that allows me to skip purchasing physical media.

While writing this I’m listening to new artists streaming from, and that along with mix CD’s from friends prevents me from getting mired in my musical past. Bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Kings of Leon, Muse, The Shins, Cat Power, and others are beginning to stick in my head.

Still, this morning I was glad my CD’s were out in the hallway where I could see them. Otherwise I would not have enjoyed belting out The Best of the Proclaimers on the way to and from work.

Do you still purchase CD’s?

7 Responses to CD or not CD?

  1. Ye gods, it’s been years since I last bought a CD. Can’t remember when or where it was, but it’s been a very long time. Even now, I don’t know why I have the two narrow tower shelves in my office that hold the unsorted shiny detritus from my musical past. I haven’t taken them off that shelf since I ripped them to iTunes. And all new music comes from there, honestly.

    I’ve just assumed the habit of browsing the musical collection at the local library, and plan to take advantage of the selection there, borrow what discs appeal, and rip whatever I want to keep before returning them. Similarly with audiobooks.

    I haven’t yet broken down to investigate e-readers for the literature I so enjoy consuming, loving as I do the dead tree variety of books, but I think it can’t be very far behind ere a Kindle or something similar graces my night stand.

    Tangible media? That’s SO 20th century.

  2. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting rid of the ginormous stack of CDs that I accumulated during my college years. The only difference: In Montreal, the store was called Cheap Thrills, and it was a favorite destination every week or two to get away from the nuttiness of campus and spend some time hunting obscure titles.

    You’ve unlocked some powerful memories with this one. I don’t think I’ll ever look at those CDs quite the same way again!

    Thanks, kind sir!

  3. My God, next thing you’ll tell me is that you own John Tesh and Perry Como CD’s!!! *LOL*

    Once in a great while I’ll buy a CD… but to buy a whole CD for one or two songs I like, is just plain silly now, so mostly I buy “Best of” CD’s.

    But that’s just me.

  4. Simon – We buy maybe two a year now, with downloads and music sharing with friends taking over as far as new music (i.e. new bands) are concerned.

    Carmi – Good to hear from you. I hope you can still get some enjoyment out of those old CD’s.

    Dave – Funny, I don’t see anything in the CD’s I named that resembles Tesh or Como. Now, had I mentioned that I have a few Enya, Kitaro, and David Lanz CD’s, I might see where you would say something like that. We dig Harry Connick, Jr., too, and a few of his are in our collection.

    There are plenty I didn’t mention. Van Halen, Dokken, Billy Squier. What kind of music DO you like, anyway? Aside from the occasional comment about a song here and there in the past, I haven’t a clue.

    Also, I know what you mean about a CD that has only a few songs worth hearing. It’s sad that the music industry has caused that to happen. We don’t buy those.

  5. psst… I was kidding you know!!!

    And I like Harry Connick Jr also!

  6. pps, I’ll post soon on my blog about what’s on my IPod!

  7. Dave – Not mad at all. Just didn’t see the connection between the artists you mentioned and the ones I did. I can take a ribbing, but it has to make sense. ;-)


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