Monday, January 20, 2014

Epiphany #7

I've been working on my basement, just getting to it more than two years after house renovations were finished, and one of the gargantuan tasks has been putting the CDs back into some semblance of order.

They were scattered everywhere, cases broken, discs in piles covered with crumbled drywall and work dust, in one room or the other room.  Some had gotten wet when the pipes leaked.  Some had broken.

So to get them sorted, wiped off, returned to cases, alphabetized, and located more efficiently onto shelves probably brought me a greater sense of accomplishment than I deserve.  But over the last two days, I can't stop looking at them, can't stop admiring their order and accessibility.

But, now, what am I going to do with them?

And that's when it hit me.  If I could make the event happen, I would call it "Come Over And Poke Holes In My CD" collection.  Because I have a lot of CDs, but they are now of an era, all purchased between the late 80's and the mid-1st-decade-of-this-century.

Here's what I would do:  you all would come over and we would have drinks and snacks and we would hang out in the other basement room while, one at a time, someone would go to the CD "stacks" and pick out a song to play.  From a collection that is not your own where you might not find what you are looking for, but where you might find something you didn't expect.  Or where you might value some song more than the music's "owner" does, and so bring new songs to light.

Two friends and I did this once before, spontaneously, in the way that anything becomes "spontaneous" when a bottle of Jagermeister is involved. We just started going to my CD closet at the time and picking songs, one after the other, over and over, playing them louder and louder.  It was revelatory and so much fun, a social event where the focus was listening to random, unexpected music.  The forgotten gained prominence, the cherished either held up or failed, the taken-for-granted surprised.  The thing I remember saying that night to one friend was "How did you know this song rocked so much?"  Because it had slipped past me.  Selecting music on the spot is an odd but fruitful way of saying who you are, but without the attention being on you.  And since one of those friends is dead now, it remains an important memory for me.

That was more than a decade before the invention of "iPod Wars," a kind of who can play the best song, and with none of its competitiveness.

So, how about it?  Do friends ever get together to listen to music anymore?  In college or in high school, many of us can remember entire evenings devoted to just such activities, with our big stereos in small dorm rooms and the imperfections on our albums nothing more than signs of repeated, devoted listenings.

Now, music is always relegated to the background, it seems, any time people get together or ride together.  Could music be the focus for just one night?  Could I find some purpose for a wall of unlistened-to music in my basement?  Let me know.


goofytakemyhand said...

I'm in.

Do you still have that very scratched copy of Dinosaur Jr's Green Mind that always repeated the great J. Mascis guitar riff on "Thumb"?

I still need to return disc #2 from 20 Years of Jethro Tull that I borrowed from you in 2001.

stowstepp said...

An outstanding idea. I've been doing this with my (sort of) new girlfriend and in addition to being a blast, it's a great way to get to know someone and see if there is real compatibility (and there is :-)).

If I ever find myself in your neck of the woods I will invite myself over and bring a bottle WAY better than Jagermeister.

Bob said...

Goof, none of those cds from the newspaper room ever made it back to me.

Stowstepp, sounds good. That Jaeger was a long time ago. I don't think I could handle that now; it does funky stuff to a person.

troutking said...

I like your idea. Also, you could do things like Hidden Treasure night, where each person in attendance brings in an album in that category. Or Resuscitation Night, where you attempt to revive a long dismissed band or album, etc, etc. Any night based around music exploration, I'm in. Especially if it involves hurling Genesis CDs through the air.

Robert Berman said...

I've never been the audiophile with the $1000 headphones. Still, I wish I could think of someone who liked (obsessed about?) music as much as me, who would enjoy this activity. At least half the fun of enjoying something is enjoying someone else enjoying it with you. As it stands now, I have 4,000 albums and no one to do this with. I do seize opportunities to make people mix CDs, but you don't get to listen to those together.

Anyway, if you ever want to have a music listening party (to your collection or mine), let me know.

Billy said...

Of course I'm in favor of this, although it could be something of a challenge figuring out the time window part. If you have just four people picking just one album each, that would be a 3-hour event, plus or minus.

Is it possible or even enjoyable to do it like a book group, where you listen once to the songs or the albums by yourself and then gather to listen/enjoy together and bandy about thoughts and reactions? Or is that suggestion an utter killjoy?

Robert Berman said...

It would probably make more sense to discuss single tracks, with the proviso that the single track not be named "Thick as a Brick." That way everybody could choose several to sample, whether distributed in advance, prepared in advance but distributed only at the meeting, or even chosen on-the-fly at the meeting. I'd go for the latter so that one person's choice can inform the immediately following choice.