Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Museum

She Swings, She Sways--"Flown The Coop" (mp3)
She Swings, She Sways--"Highway" (mp3)
She Swings, She Sways--"Even So" (mp3)

These are the statistics of my museum:

1. purchased CDs--close to 1000

2. burned CDs made by me, given to me, burned by my daughter in the early years of her driver's license when she would make mixes like "Kath's Monday Mornings in April Drive To School Mix--in the several hundreds

3. locations where CDs are stored by my family:

a. the sun porch
b. the kitchen
c. our bedroom
d. the guest room
e. both children's rooms
f. the living room
g. by the computer in the kitchen
h. my office at school
i. my wife's car
j. my car
k. the various locations where my loaned, but forgotten CDs reside

4. % of CDs that don't have cases--4%

5. % of cases that don't have CDs--a different 4%

6. % of CDs that are well-intentioned by rarely-listened-to classical CDs--6%

7. % of CDs that are meaningful, important, but rarely-listened-to jazz CDs--6%

8. % of total purchased CD collection recorded by Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Tom Waits, the Grateful Dead or the Beatles--at least 14%

9. # of Neil Young's last 6 CDs that I purchased online and are therefore not represented in the above collection--6

10. # of CD's that I intend to purchase during the remaining months of this year--0, as in, zero

Yesterday, as the break was winding down, I took on the insane project of trying to sort out all of my CDs and to gather them all in one central location--the shelves in the basement. It took the better part of a day, but I'd say that I now have about 80-85% of them in place.

It's that last 15% that are the problem. And, frankly, I'm so pissed off at my CDs right now that I can hardly stand it. I seem to remember them as perfect little packages, so nicely tidy in comparison to the cumbersome, scratch-prone vinyl albums I had collected. Now, they are completely uncooperative--they're dusty, when I try to put them in shelves like books, they tip over and slide away from each other. In fact, they seem to like to slip out of my hands onto hard surfaces so that when they hit, one of the two thin pieces of plastic that connects the cover to the case is guaranteed to break off. And trying to match up the final CDs to their covers is like playing a game of Concentration, where you keep trying to remember where the other match to your pair is when everything is hidden--except that sometimes the match isn't there at all. I remember where some of them are--there's a Tom Petty CD, and two Paul Westerbergs, trapped in the CD player of a Buick Rodeo I quit owning about 3 years ago (since repurchased on Itunes, of course)--but others, I have no clue. It seems like there are only two or three places where a particular Christmas CD that we never found this year could have been, but then I look at my list above and realize that there are at least 11 places that CD could be that I can even remember.

But when I get everything sorted out, it's a very impressive collection, with fascinating juxtapostions like Vivaldi next to the Velvet Underground and a mere Eagles CD separating Bob Dylan from Steve Earle. You'd probably be very impressed. But then we'd go upstairs and listen to whatever was on the Ipod.

We are talking about a museum, after all, aren't we? CDs exist only as fuel for Ipods; it would be far too cumbersome to use them just for themselves at this point. Even as I line them up perfectly ("You're arranging them alphabetically?" my daughter asks. "Ugh!" "How else would I find anything?" I counter. She stares at me like I am an extinct animal), I can't help but feeling sorry for them. I know there are some real beauties, some classics, some once-wasses that I'm never going to play again.

Well, maybe someday when I'm in the basement, hanging out and feeling nostalgic.

The problem is I never hang out in my basement.

I heard the songs by She Swings, She Sways over the weekend on someone else's blog and liked them.


Billy said...

It would have to be a sort of "Please don't throw me in the briar patch" kind of punishment, but if someone imprisoned me for a week in your basement with a huge pack of AA batteries and a CD Walkman, I could almost survive without bread and water so long as all your CDs were down there... Your collection is the recorded music version of a minor amusement park.

troutking said...

As Joni Mitchell sings in "Both Sides, Now": "There's something lost, but something gained." I do miss CD's, buying them, listening to whole albums, searching out obscure ones at obscure music stores, buying whole albums just to get one track and discovering all sorts of new good songs. Now I just pay the Russians 9 cents to get the song...that's why I'm buying records. At least I like to tell myself there is a logical reason.