Tuesday, March 15, 2005


I've decided to conduct a major purge of my CD collection. Being a music critic, I get tons of CDs in the mail (a dozen arrived just yesterday), and those unsolicited offerings usually make up most of what I take to the used CD store, when I go, which is about once a month. But that leaves big piles of stuff that I buy and am disappointed with, or buy and enjoy for awhile and then don't listen to for a year and a half, because I'm too busy listening to things I get paid to listen to...you get the picture. They stack up, getting in the way, making it difficult to dust or find what I'm really looking for that minute, and I never quite get around to figuring out which ones are keepers and which ones are dross. (Actually, what happens is I know which ones are keepers and which ones are dross, I just don't have time to do anything about it.)

The thing is, though, now that I actually have a decent-sized computer (iMac G5 with a 250GB hard drive), I can get rid of the physical CDs, while still having the music around to stuff into my iPod, or burn to DVDs. (Local man discovers technology. Film at eleven.)

So anyhow, a major purge is underway. I'm in the process of ripping every CD I own to my hard drive. Once I do that, I'm gonna wind up selling about half of 'em - that should be a thousand discs, or somewhere in that range. (I know, that seems paltry, like I should turn in my rock-critic card for not owning enough stuff, but I've been purging regularly for years. If I'd held onto every CD, record or cassette that ever passed through my hands and ears, I would be buried under a mountain of plastic, aluminum and cardboard, never to be seen again.)

The toughest stuff to get rid of, naturally, is the out-of-print stuff. Even though all my Last Exit CDs are already stored on my hard drive and in my iPod, I can't look at them without thinking "I should hold onto these - they're out of print." Once you've produced a cultural artifact yourself (and especially once that cultural artifact has, itself, gone out of print), you feel a little twinge when disposing of someone else's no-longer-available labor of love. This is especially true if you're the only person you know who cares about that band. You feel like you're personally letting them down by refusing to (potentially) be the one guy in the world who still has a battered-but-plays-fine copy of their album somewhere in a dusty plastic crate in the basement or the corner of the bedroom. But it's time to cut the apron strings. One day I'll want to listen to Main again. But right now, I can use the storage space for something else, and I can definitely use the few buck I'll get for selling all the various Firmament volumes. Never mind the untapped reservoirs of cash that lie within my overlapping, redundant Miles Davis collection (both the American and Japanese versions of Agharta and Pangaea, the American and Japanese versions of Miles In Tokyo, the American and German versions of Miles In Berlin, A Tribute To Jack Johnson even though I have the 5-CD box, etc., etc.).

Yes, it's time to purge.

So I can afford to buy more discs, of course. I'll probably start by picking up all the Wayne Shorter albums on Blue Note.

1 comment:

woid said...

This is my first time here, courtesy of tBogg. Your Terri's iPod item made me laugh so hard that pea soup came out of my nose. And I haven't eaten pea soup in 16 years.

But that's not why I'm commenting. It's your mention of Wayne Shorter that did it.

I've been listening to Wayne a lot lately, going back to Blue Note, the Miles quartet, electric Miles, Weather Report, and up through the newest, gorgeous albums. I'm going to see him next month here in LA, and I can't wait.

Here comes the Hints From Heloise part of the post. I had the bright idea of making a smart playlist for Wayne. Right away it collected all of his work as leader, and all of his pieces as composer... But then there's all that Miles stuff, and the other Weather Report tunes... and you get other people's covers of his tunes, which you have to throw back...

The solution to this mishigoss is simple but time-comsuming. I started adding personnel lists in the comments field. Usually you can do all the tracks at once, since the personnel on lots of jazz albums is the same throughout. Other times, you have to type more.

The payoff: I have a playlist for Wayne that gathers all of his work, as a leader, in a group, and as a sideman. Sweet.

What's more, I have playlists for Herbie, Freddie, Lee, McCoy, Horace, Joe, and Minnie Moore. Eventually I'll get around to doing my whole jazz category. Eventually, because it's over 3900 tunes now.

By the way: The Sex Pistols, "Pretty Vacant"