In the last couple of places I lived, I didn’t have my CDs out, largely due to space issues. They sat quietly in boxes in cupboards waiting to be set free once again. Occasionally I had a sudden urge to rip some to my computer, then once I started the process I realised it took quite a long time, so often gave up rather quickly.
In my new place, though, I’ve got all my CDs out again. There’s some among the collection that I’m not sure I’ll ever listen to again, but it’s nice to revisit some albums that I’ve had for many, many years now — particularly those which I got back when I was at school, as these are often the ones that have the strongest memories attached to them.
They’re not even specific memories as such — simply memories of a time and a place, not any particularly special events. But I can remember when I got many of these albums and why — in some cases it was a simple matter of buying something that was popular at the time (and in some cases struggling to understand why it was so popular — see: The Verve, Urban Hymns, one of the most tedious albums I’ve ever listened to), others it was a case of thinking the lead singer was hot, others still it was songs I’d listened to on the radio so many times I was curious to hear what other stuff the artist had come out with and others still beyond that simply just because I was curious.
I wouldn’t say that as far as popular music goes I’m particularly “well-read” or whatever the popular music equivalent is. But my CD collection demonstrates an interesting cross-section of mid to late 90s music coupled with a few bits and pieces from the early 21st century — though around this point is when iTunes started to take over, leading to a decline in the number of physical products on the shelf.
In some ways, I can see the point that those people who prefer to still buy CDs have. The digitalisation of music has given it a more “disposable” quality, leading to people putting it on just so they have some noise in the background, not necessarily to appreciate what it is. Putting on a CD, though, kind of implies that you’re going to invest some time into listening to the whole thing — even if you’re doing something else at the time. This is because, as everyone knows, changing CDs is a massive faff to the lazy person of the 21st century, who wants everything at their fingertips and, preferably, controlled by their mobile phone.
If you’ve still got a CD collection, though, it’s worth taking a moment to dig it out and investigate the treasures it holds within. Sure, there may be some embarrassing things in there, but even those had a part to play in your past. Take a moment, dig out a random pick from your collection, sit down and listen to it. All of it. You might just be surprised at the complexity and thinking that goes into a complete album — or, then again, you might just find yourself wondering why on Earth you own two Spice Girls albums.