Despite the fact that I can go on hour long diatribes on how technology has changed music for the worse, the fact is I love the fact that thanks to Napster and iTunes, the democratization of music has lead to me discovering more bands in the past 10 years than I would have been able to otherwise. There is no mainstream/underground anymore. As such, finding those obscure bands is remarkably easy. Despite my cynical skepticism, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
But, with the advent of mp3s, I don’t buy CDs or vinyl anymore. In fact, for any album or song that I bought after 1999, I do not have the CD or vinyl. Ok, that’s not true. I have a few vinyls, namely Rilo Kiley, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, Radiohead, Postal Service, and Bon Iver. But I haven’t bought a CD in years.
This bothers me.
I miss the collector aspect of finding music. I miss the hunt. And most of all, given my propensities towards collection, I miss having something tangible in my hands. I miss that feeling of struggling with the stupid plastic wrap on a CD, peeling off the secondary security sticker on top, and pouring through liner notes. I have to think that a lot of artists are pissed about this as well. I could go on forever about my disdain of the new “singles” culture of music production, but the bottom line is that artists used to put a lot of effort and care into the production of their albums. Liner notes mattered. I can’t tell you how many little nuggets I’ve gleaned about artists from reading their thank yous. Even little facts, such as their label, song sequencing, album artwork, are all dismissed these days.
So, I am embarking on a project wherein I am going to attempt to identify those albums that I actually want to own on CD or vinyl. If I was still at my job I would just make this list haphazardly, spend an evening putting each album in to my Amazon shopping cart, and it would be done. But that’s not an option anymore. So I’m going to put together a list and slowly work through it as my resources allow. I think this will be fun.
I apply the same methodology to my Kindle books. I buy most of my books on Kindle these days. But if I find the book particularly interesting so that I want it on my bookshelf then I will buy the physical book. But quick reads that I found interesting but don’t think I’ll revisit or want to lend to friends I ignore.
So that’s the metric I’ll apply to music. Albums that I love, that I would be sad if I didn’t have, and that I might want to lend to friends.
To that end, I’d like to enlist your help. What are some albums that you’d want to own in physical form? I suppose this isn’t all that different from a “Desert Island” list. But I do think it’s an interesting question to ask. We are so inundated with music these days that it can become difficult to differentiate between what is necessary and what is just…nice.
I mean, I’m pretty sure I’d want The Replacements “Let It Be” on a desert island. Can’t say the same about Coldplay, despite the fact that my iTunes tells me that I listen to far more Coldplay than ‘Mats.
Thoughts? I’ll post up a list soon.