Matters of the Intangible
My brain works far faster than my computer, so I’m already behind here.
I’m at the stage in my unpacking (yep, a month after I moved, and I’m still unpacking!) where I need to rehouse my cds. I’m not sure if there’s much point, but I’m not sure if I can stand to let go of them either.
While I was in Leeds, I got used to disconnecting my computer speakers and plugging them into my mp3 player to listen to music, leaving my cds in a case that I’d use for the occasional bit of DJing. Rather than buying cds from artists that have somewhat intrigued me, i’ve been downloading their stuff (saving money, therefore good). I think I bought a total of 10 new/recent cds while I was there.
Now I’m back, cds need to be rehoused in their cases and new cds need to be slotted in to the alphabetical collection. But the way I listen to music has changed. I rarely listen to a whole album at a time (really, a bad thing – some poor tortured soul probably spent ages trying to work out what would be track 1 and why the next song had to be track 2), but sort of concoct my own playlists according to a mood, or I want to flick backwards and forwards through an artist’s entire history at once. So, logistically speaking, CDs are a bit of a hassle. Besides, I’m far too lazy to go fucking about with bits of plastic when I can just press a button.
So should I get rid of them? I don’t really want to. My CD collection is really quite aesthetically pleasing, all hung up there on my wall (and now overflowing on the nearby table). It’s like a mini-John Peel collection, if you ever saw that episode of All Back to Mine. The purist(?) in me likes the idea of having a tangible piece of artwork that I can enjoy with my music, that represents and illustrates it. But music in its essence is ethereal and untangible, isn’t it? So if i were really to be a purist I wouldn’t hold onto something that predisposed me to a certain way of thinking about it. Hm.
My mp3 collection is far bigger than my cd collection now, thanks to torrenting and 4mb connections. It’d take me far too long to catch up on plastic now, wouldn’t it? And perhaps CD is on the verge of going the way of VHS and cassette anyway, so it’d be throwing money away. BUT I certainly don’t think that about the vinyl and cassettes I do own. My Jason Donovan and Eternal tapes, my sexy sexy Head Like a Hole promo vinyl. I couldn’t ever imagine going as apeshit over an mp3 promo. “Woo it has words in the ID3 tag that I could have written myself”. Watermarks?
I’ve barely listened to a large chunk of my downloaded music anyway. But perhaps that’s more to do with the fact that I have less time to listen to music passively/in the background, which is how these things sink in.
Keep part of my cds and get rid of the rest? The line between “essential” and “disposable would keep moving. Of course, I’d want to keep my NIN and Kylie, and all the stuff related to the two, so I’d probably need to keep my Robbie Williams and – Christ, I’ve even held on to some Marilyn Manson purely for the reason that it can be counted as part of my NIN collection. There are the odd sentimental releases – Weezer’s fourth album, my Nick Drake – and this is where it could start to snowball. I have all the Weezer albums, so I may as well keep them and complete the set. Robbie Williams covered those Manu Chao songs, and I had Clandestino long before Rudebox was released, so it may be worth keeping the original. And other such self-justificating nonsense. Of course, what if my mp3 player/computer goes poof – I’ll have to resource everything again, which is an giant pain in the backside (see: laziness and CD swapping).
And to think, I used to be such an Ecclectic Musical Authority.