When does sentimentality cross the line into foolishness?
I just moved two CD towers. Each one contains about 200 CDs. In addition, there are several piles of CDs on the floor, some originals, some copies friends have made, some old mixes of various artists.
I also have three of those Napa Valley crates that were so popular in the ’90s for organizing. Each one contains maybe another 50 CDs.
Oh, and there are more downstairs — classical, promos, stuff mixed in with my wife’s collection. And I’ve got about five dozen boxed sets lined up on a credenza and in a cabinet.
So, somewhere between 600-800 titles, I would imagine.
Now, it’s not as if I don’t listen to CDs anymore. I’ve got a player in my car, not to mention a 5-disc changer in my living room, the latter hooked up to two great Infinity speakers that remain the best quality audio I own for listening. Moreover, like the piles of books in my bedroom bookcase — the ones I bought with full intent of reading before I die — I’ve got a number of CDs I’ve never listened to, but would like to because there might be something good on them. In fact, I’d like to figure out which ones have good songs so I can burn the best cuts into iTunes.
Which would mean I’d almost certainly never listen to them again. And, admittedly, I barely use the player in my car or the disc changer.
Hmm. What happened?
Well, iTunes happened. MP3s. The Cloud.
I’ll admit to a paranoid reason for keeping so many of these discs — that, one day, my computer hard drive (and backups) will be wiped out in a electromagnetic pulse and all my music will be gone, gone, gone, as the Everly Brothers once sang in a different context. (That same EMP will also wipe out the means of playing CDs, but let’s not get too far ahead of my paranoia.)
I’d have to return to a time of memory, not ownership. Though right now memory is mostly what I have, given how often I pull these things out of their cases.
But still. Is that a reason to keep multiple copies of my Beatles records? Or Dylan? Or “London Calling”? I remember reading an article somewhere about how Elvis Costello fans could have ended up buying four versions of his CDs, since his back catalog kept getting contracted to different labels. (This isn’t the piece, but it sums it up.)
Speaking of Elvis, though I don’t have multiple versions of “Imperial Bedroom,” I do have the CD and the LP. In fact, I still own between 100-200 LPs and a turntable … neither which get used much, either.
Listen: I’m not a pack rat. (I swear.) I know there’s no reason to keep all of these physical recordings. Maybe a handful — the Beatles LPs my aunt bought in the ’60s and generously gave to her Beatles-addicted nephew, a special edition of R.E.M.’s “Out of Time,” the greatest hits of New Orleans’ The Cold — have any monetary or sentimental value at all. (Of course, with LPs, there’s always cover art and interesting sleeves.) But why am I keeping two CDs of “Blood on the Tracks,” when the second, remastered, SACD version is far superior to whatever Columbia put out in the late ’80s? Why do I have two different but highly overlapping collections of Nilsson’s greatest hits? Why am I keeping the Cult?
I don’t know, either. There is no good reason to have all these CDs. In fact, I’m going to weed through them and either sell or give most of them away.