Thursday, July 30, 2009

CD Collections, Already Dead? Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Do the Denial Shake

We can all agree that thanks to iTunes, iPods, and CDRS , our old CD libraries have become completely irrelevant. Fact: No one needs cds anymore. At least that is what I’m currently trying to tell myself. I’ve done something today that is forcing me to falsely embrace this mantra. You see, thanks to my recent actions I’m currently in a state of denial.

Today was the day I decided to take my once untouchable CDs to SecondSpin to trade in for cash. As it already stands my extensive cd collection had already been whittled down to just the bare bones of a music aficionados life blood Long ago I convinced myself that I could part ways with most of my cds after copying them over to my external hard drive…and from there another external hard drive.Yes, two hard drives are a bit excessive but I couldn’t live with myself if I lost all of those mp3s. Finally feeling secure about the backups I was freed to sell back these old cds to Second Spin (for more cds) that I had no emotional attachment to.

So long “…And You Will Know Us From the Trail of the Dead”. We had some good times “Franz Ferdinand”. Hate to see you go, but I love to watch you leave “Rilo Kiley”. Even though I had all of my music (117 gigs) backed up on MULTIPLE hard drives I could never bring myself to sell back certain cds, even if they hadn’t seen the light of a CD player laser since Clinton was in office.

Nevertheless I wanted cash for a new bike so I convinced myself it was time to clean house. I grabbed the remnants of a once proud collection and headed over to SecondSpin. Stepping into the store I felt a bit panicked. As I watched the salesclerk examine each cd for scratches I found my cds taking on a life of their own, making desperate last minute pleas with me. Elvis Costello’s Greatest Hits tried playing the whole “We look alike! Don’t do this” card. I didn’t bite. The Who’s Tommy looked at me as if I murdered Keith Moon and said “If I knew this was going to happen I would have joined Quadrophenia in the trunk of the Prius, all scratched up. At least those discs died with some dignity!The BeatlesThe White Album” looked at me incredulously as if to say “Um, HELLOOO I’m the White Album. You’re joking right?” Afraid not lads. That decision triggered something in me. I was frightened. I realized if I could hand over an album like The White Album for $9 I was capable of truly horrific things.

Years of memories and emotions came flooding in as I watched the register put prices on pieces of my life. These cds with their album art, their cd silk screen, and their cases each with their unique cracks all have specific stories that wouldn’t make sense to their new owners. They’d be lost on everyone but me. How could I abandon them and how could they love anyone else. I was the Daniel Plainview of SecondSpin. At that point I knew what it felt like to give up a child for adoption. True, it wasn’t hard to say goodbye to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Sure they hold a special place in my heart, but it’s more for novelty’s sake…like the time I hooked up with that wonky eyed fat girl with the onion breath. It was a great story and everyone had a good laugh but nothing inspiring came of it. The same cannot be said for The Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin…which I turned in for a measly $2. This was an album that re-introduced me to a band that I once thought was a one hit wonder. As it would turn out, I was reacquainted with a band that blew away their “She Don’t Use Jelly” one hit wonder label and this album would become the Pet Sounds of the late 90’s.

Some cds were too scratched up to be returned, others were not returnable as the store’s inventory was already at full capacity and each time I feigned indignation at these “slights”. In reality I was celebrating the salesclerk’s overly judgmental eye. Radiohead’s The Bends was rejected due to cd laser burning from overplaying that I immediately could translate back to when I first got the cd and I played it at least 1000 times in my old “top of the line” Sony cd walkman ( “Look it even comes with a wired remote!” ). That disc was my introduction to Radiohead outside of “Creep”. Even if it was scratch free I’m not sure $3 would be worth kissing goodbye the memory of riding in the backseat of a car studying the liner lyrics to “Black Star” till my eyes hurt.

The parting pains for Interpol, The Raconteurs, and Sigur Ros were there, but not nearly as bad as what I would see waiting for me at the bottom of the return pile: Beck’s Sea Change. Dare I part ways with Beck Hansen’s ode to breakup? What would I look to when I too suffered from crushing personal loss or heartbreak? Hearing it on my iPod simply would not do the trick. This album has always had a strong hold over me and I couldn’t bring myself to part ways with it. I hoped, no PRAYED that it would fail the scratch inspection. It didn’t. Of Course. As I inched closer to see what the return would net the salesclerk compassionately responded “Are you sure you’d like to return this?” I feebly responded with “Um…only if it’s more than $2”. As soon as I got $2 out of my mouth the register responded with, rather curtly I might add, a return price of $2.50. It surely heard me and now was testing my resolve. We both sat there string at Beck’s face, for what seemed like forever until I finally snatched the cd off the counter and said “I’ll keep it I need something to listen to on the way home”. Luckily the salesclerk was unaware that I easily have 80+ ripped cds in my car. It didn’t matter.

To me, nothing would feel more perfect to me than listening to “Already Dead” as I drove home with the dirtiest feeling $80 that I’ve ever put in my wallet. As I sit here looking at my return receipt taunting me like a long paper snake of lament part of me wants to drive back to the store and explain to “Brett” and his hipster moustache that I made a huge mistake. He could keep Maladroit and Chulahoma but not Icky Thump. Surely he’d made mistakes in the past hadn’t he? Could he not understand? Had he no regrets? I feel like Jason Robards in Magnolia pontificating about the pains of our actions. This is the regret that you make. He had nurse Phillip Seymour Hoffman to voice his regrets to. Now all I have is Beck.

So stupid, that fucking mind! Stupid! Jesus Christ! What would I think, did I think for what I’d done?”Earl Patridge (Magnolia)

Already dead to me now”
‘Coz it feels like I’m watching something die”
Beck Hanson (Already Dead)

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