Sunday, July 29, 2012

Being and Nothingness, or Jaybee Sartre's Virtual Record Store Trip, or Something

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to buy more digital music. My goal was to make 50% of my music purchases mp3s. I’d dipped my toe in the digital water the year before with tUnE-YarDs
W H O K I L L , which , coincidentally, was my top record of the year.

My only complaint so far is that, with no jewelry case cover to look at, the tiny picture of the cover, which looks like this:

reminds me of nothing so much as a Subway sandwich ad.  Just looking at it makes me hungry. (Someone please tell me what this is.)

But above and beyond my obsession with seeming cool to young people, there was the very practical possibility of literally running out of room in our house.

Most family members would like to be preferred over inanimate objects, so when a pile of one falls into a pile of the other, said family members prefer that I save them first. Daughter has stack of CDs fall on her, daughter prefers that father pull her out before checking if the CDs are scratched, etc. Quite reasonable if you’re normal.

Thus, another good reason to take advantage of the odd iTunes gift card and Amazon sales to get mp3s whenever possible.

I’d already resolved to get used instead of new CDs whenever possible. To be environmentally correct? Of course! The fact that they are cheaper never entered my mind...

So this would be another year of great music, just taking up less room and costing less. This is called Continuous Quality Improvement.

So how’m I doing?  Let’s see so far:


First there was Radiohead’s Amnesiac and David Bowie’s Lodger. An of-the-moment record store link trip yielded these two kind-of-want-to-haves-and-at-$4.99-who-can-resists?

I thought that would be it for the month. Every year I have a standing Slow the F*ck Down With the Buying of the Music Resolution that rarely lasts the winter. And this year, not even January.

Thanks to Amazon’s monthly $5 mp3 sale.  And for January, instead of the usual 100 albums, they’ve got 1,000! Now, I’ve finally learned how to keep this kind of thing under control, and after writing up a list of 50 possible buys, I settle for two:  Essential Leonard Cohen and Wild Flag’s debut..

So, what was my score at the end of this first month of the year?

MP3: 2
Used: 0
Cheap: 2
Brand New: 0

So far, so good!


So my son Michael mentions Television (a girl he knows brings them up - the Official Best Possible Reason to Talk About Music) which results in a major (at least 3 CDs worth) mp3 buy, and using a gift card no less! I’d call it a two-fer but it also resulted in a blog post.  

Another trip to the record store unearthed two jazz cheapies: Sidney Bechet Ken Burns’ Jazz and Coleman Hawkins Body and Soul

MP3: 5
Used: 0
Cheap: 7
Brand New: 0

Okay, not bad, but I can do better, right?


Used record store Other Music strikes again.  This time with Jens Lekman's Night Falls Over Kortedala.

MP3: 5
Used: 1
Cheap: 7
Brand New: 0



Cabin Fever motivated me to plan a trip to both record stores once the weather got better. This resulted in cheapies Beck Sea Change and Wu Tang Clan Enter the Wu Tang, and used Bright Eyes Lifted and the Best of Bush. In a fit of remorse, I realized I could have gotten Bush as an MP3 for even cheaper.  So I’m penalizing myself by marking it as New. Ouch!

MP3: 5
Used: 3
Cheap: 8
Brand New: 1

I appear to be succeeding on the cheapness front (lots of practice) I’m paying the price on the environmental one. (Except that I’m not buying something brand new and thus taking up new resources, thus my carbon footprint blah, blah, blah...)


A surprise while on a visit to a friend’s art show - it’s taking place in a used CD store! Quick! Retreat! Ah, too late! Thus Liz Phair’s Whitechocolatespaceegg, the Hives Veni Vidi Viscious, the Soft Boys Underwater Moonlight and Wire’s Pink Flag.

But I try to make up for it by going to my iTunes card. (The old more-is-somehow-less argument.) and get
Eno’s Music for Airports.  

But at this point, like global warming, I hit my 350 and there was no going back for room on the CD shelf. May our children’s children forgive us! ( Well, me anyway.)

MP3: 6
Used: 3
Cheap: 13
Brand New: 1


Amazon comes to the rescue twice with Bob Marley’s Legend and Postal Service’s Give Up each on sale for $2.99

MP3: 8
Used: 3
Cheap: 15
Brand New: 1

Which is how it stands right now. All things considered this doesn't suck exactly, but I've got work to do.

But Steinski Asks What Does it All Mean?:

But I miss the thing-ness of the CD (just like I missed the size of the LP, with the possibility that the cover could be a thing of beauty. Maybe even framed.  (Well, no, I never actually framed an album cover, but that was for convenience sake.  I was too lazy to do it, and besides what if I wanted to hear the record?)

And I miss the CD covers. I miss the liner notes, even though I can’t read them anymore.

The more serious and unexpected side effect of this foray into mp3s is that I am beginning to lose track of what I actually have and don’t have.  When I got Postal Service, I also got some free song along with it.  Do I remember what song it is? No. Did I Even Listen to It? No.  Do I Care? No.

So when you get down to it, does it even matter whether I “have” it or not?

When you have a physical CD, you put it on. (This isn’t even getting into the area of If You Have It, You Can Burn It Right Onto Your PC So That When You Want to Play It, You Just Look It Up On Your Computer discussion.)

But if you only have the mp3 you look it up.

Aand if you don’t even “have” it, just search for it on Spotify or Youtube.  

What used to be the very solid demarcation line of ownership - you either have it or wait for it to get played on the radio - has virtually disappeared.

And when my PC’s hard disk dies, do I “lose” these albums? (Please let me know. I’m too lazy to find out.) And is it then pathetic of me to burn the album onto a blank CD that I then lose in my basement? I would have treated the official CD better.

And will we end up looking back on all this with embarrassment, like we do when we see 8 track tapes (which I’m still replacing)?

Well I never said I wasn’t getting old...

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