There was a time, not long ago, when you could reliably go into someone’s house and browse through their music collection to get a sense of the music they liked. Gone are the days when you could flip through someone’s 45s. Long gone. But there there was ALWAYS a CD shelf. Or, before that:
- A drawer of cassette tapes
- A carousel of 8-tracks
- A milk crate of vinyl.
In that way, music was part of our shared experience; it was there in the home to inform you about your friends.
That era has passed. With mp3s, music is now hidden away on hard drives. The speakers of choice are ear buds. Listening is done in private, on the way to work or school. It’s rare to hear someone else’s music – with the exception of house parties. And even then, it’s only a small sample of their tunes, usually skewed to favour an up-tempo mix.
Without having an in depth conversation – there’s no way to know what kind of audiophile your friends are. I miss that. It took away one of my favorite conversation starters. “Oh, you have !”
I still have my CDs on display – mostly because there are so many of them that I don’t have the time or hard drive space to store them all digitally. Plus half my collection is classical music and that just doesn’t belong on cruddy computer speakers or compressed into mp3 format.
A Partial Convert
Pop music is another story. I’ve imported most of my pop CDs (although I still can’t bring myself to archive them in a box). And all the new radio-friendly length music I get is digital – anything that fits the 3-minute format. The upside there is that I no longer spend money on full CDs that invariably include only a handful of good songs. I do still buy the odd CD though – especially to fill in the gaps in my classical music collection.
I would like to get rid of the CDs – it would not only lead to additional space in the house and would stop me looking like someone who simply can’t let go of the past. But until I find a better solution for maintaining a fairly complete library of classical music – or until someone steals them – I guess I’m destined to be shackled to my CD shelves.