Monday, October 17, 2011

On the Ossification of Music

Do you ever think you were happier with your music collection when you just had the four cassette tapes and the little cassette-tape case still with twenty empty slots, with only new and fresh and consciously chosen music on hand and more expectations to your name than reminiscences?  Well, of course you don’t; that’s ~my~ memory, not yours.  And it’s a false memory to boot, ignoring as it does at least a cubic foot of vinyl albums.

But you see my point.  Over time, music collections tend to clog up like bad plumbing.  There is very little incentive to get rid of any given album.  It’s not like anybody is really going to want your old CDs, and besides that they are good, or at least not bad, and they have that one song that you used to listen to in college on them.   And you might feel like listening to them again sometime.  And since this logic is flawless for any given record, music collections as a whole grow into bulky, unlovable repositories of our past and never-quite-abandoned musical tastes, with more cumulative running time than we will ever, ever have listening time to appreciate.  They have music for every mood, but this includes quite a few moods we don’t experience anymore.  And, because they obligate us to keep looking over our shoulder at the music of the past, they somewhat cut us off from new musical experiences that might be, you know, cool.

This has only been exacerbated by the migration of music away from tangible media.  Since it is so easy to download something because of something some guy said on a friend’s Facebook, and then completely forget about it, digital music collections are completely unruly.  To be honest, I even don’t really have a good sense of how much music I have on my two computers, let alone the actual contents.  It’s a lot.  A lot.

There’s also a further complication involved for those of us who are married or otherwise engaged in joint property ownership.  In the wedded household, not one but two people must overcome the inertia of ownership if anything is to be discarded, and this applies doubly to something so comfortable and innocuous as dated media.


1)      lamanyana has been doing this thing on Facebook where he’s been listening to all of his vinyl records (a sizeable pile, too) in alphabetical order.  You don’t have to know me very well to anticipate that I think this idea is SUPERCOOL.

2)      I was surprised, when doing the four-year L&TM5K retrospective, to learn that some people actually enjoyed the essentially random record reviews that I was posting here for a year or so. 

So put all of this together and, what the hell, why not a new project?  Here’s the plan:

1)      Every couple of weeks, I pick a record at random from my collection.  No mean feat, since the collection sprawls over multiple media and hard drives, but I think I’ve got a crude system in place.

2)      I listen to it a few times.

3)      I make either an affirmative decision to keep it, or I toss it… to Mrs.5000, with a note indicating that it is “nominated for removal from the collection.”  (This will obviously have to be done with discretion and tact in situations where, for instance, the record in question has been Mrs.5000s since her college days.)

4)      I write up a glib little essay or review of the record here.

5)      And, over time, perhaps I evolve some sort of catalog of what music I actually own, and in what format, and – if it’s on a computer – where I might find it. 

Interspersed with all of the above, I think I will, just for fun, get ten (10) CDs at the upcoming Friends of the Library sale – it’s the weekend after next – and play that game again too.  What the heck.

We’ll see how it goes.  For now, I’ll go see how my random music selection system works.


Jenners said...

Have at it, Mr. Weird Project Boy.

Michael5000 said...

That seems like a reasonable response.

Eric said...

I like the idea, but please don't let it detract from your Beatles project. I've been eagerly awaiting the next installment.

Elaine said...

TOSS something? ha hah ha ha ha ha

Chuckdaddy said...

Have you tried spotify? As someone who has a collection of CDs, music on 1 computer at home, and music on another at work (all overlapping music, but I've lost track of just what exactly)- I am loving the streaming. Also, I find I only keep in my account the albums and songs off those albums i like, since if i change my mind, I can go get them back for free. The whole music pack rat routine feels unnecessary.

margaret said...

Let me know if you need any Alice Cooper to, you know, cleanse your palate.

Michael5000 said...

Chuck: I listen to Pandora a lot -- I actually pay for it. I don't know much about Spotify.

This is probably grandfatherly of me, but I actually regret the dislocation of music from a physical artifact. I have oodles of music on my computer, of course, but there is not the same feeling of consciously choosing to listen to something as there is when you physically pick out your CD or whatever. And of course the sound quality is for shit.

Don't even get me started on the Kindle.

Michael5000 said...

Margaret: I always know whom I can turn to for some Alice Cooper.

Jennifer said...

Did somebody say "kindle"? Yay, kindle!

Michael5000 said...

Nobody said "kindle."