Sunday, September 30, 2007


If you've ever been to my current place, or any place I've ever lived, you've probably noticed that it's overrun with media. It's the best fringe benefit of my job that a lot of books, CDs, and DVDs float my way for free. But the cumulative effect of doing this for a few years is that the room disappears fast. Factor in that I spent years prior to turning pro squandering my paycheck on media and a personality that gets sentimentally attached to objects and you're left with, well, a mess. And given that our place, while spacious, is still very much a big city condo something had to give. For the last couple of weeks, it's been giving. Stevie and I did a large book and DVD purge last weekend that left us with a little more pocket money and still way too many books and DVDs. For the past few days I've been packing up my CDs.

I know people, people who are wildly enthusiastic about music, who have taken advantage of the glorious age of digital music we're now living to sell their CDs. I can't do that. I just can't. I've been building my collection since I was 16 and can still tell you the first four CDs I bought and when I bought them. (First: Green by R.E.M., purchased during a marching band trip on the first week of its release in 1988 before I owned a CD player.)

I get attached. I can remember poring over liner notes for albums and staring at covers. I once saw an interview Bryan Ferry where he complained that CD listeners lacked the "tactile" relationship with their music that vinyl fans enjoyed. If he only knew what was coming. I'm pretty sure I'm from the last generation to grow up touching music. But I don't really touch it anymore. I rip, peruse the liner notes, and go. I still look at the covers, but it's usually when they appear in the corner of my screen.

I don't really miss playing CDs, to tell the truth. I love the digital age. I listen to music just as deeply and more broadly than ever. I take my iPod with me everywhere. My laptop (and an external hard drive) allow me to keep a considerable library at my fingertips and a large hard drive at home houses a collection in excess of 200GB. That said, I still love my CDs. And packing them up hasn't been easy. I kept hitting little sentimental trapdoors. I mean, I can remember a couple of weeks in December of 1998 when the Townes Van Zandt album High And Low And In Between felt like the closest friend I had.

Nonetheless, they have to make room. So, apart from a few we listen to in the car on a regular basis, down to the basement they go, secure in the finest plastic tubs Target stocks. I guess I could get rid of them, but I keep thinking about the dream house I'll maybe own down the line, one with a wall of shelves for all my CDs that my as-yet-still-imaginary kids, who will never rebel against their dad's great taste in music, will be able to look at, and listen to, and touch.


Gregg said...

I agree; my CDs are largely sitting on shelves gathering dust. Getting rid of them would be a mistake that I'd quickly regret though. First CD I purchased: The Police, Synchronicity. First CD I owned: Phil Collins, No Jacket Required.

Eric Grubbs said...

My 1500-CD shelf is almost completely full, but I haven't been adding a lot of new CDs to it in the last few years.

There are plenty of factors as to why, but it's not just because of downloading. I have a lot of emotional attachment to 97% of the CDs. There's a story behind how I got each one. And I still have a lot of emotional investment to the ones I cherish the most (like Whatever and Ever Amen and Don't Turn Away).

The first CDs I bought with a gift certificate were R.E.M.'s Green and U2's War.

Eric Grubbs said...

On second thought, it was actually Document, not Green.