Monday, February 8, 2010
Anyone that knows me can attest that I'm a music fanatic. I eat, breathe, and live it. I've been this way since I was a kid dancing around my parent's living room to Boston, Kiss, Queen, and the Studio 54 record set. My obsession with collecting music started with a copy of KISS's Destroyer album that my parents bought me for my 3rd birthday. From there it became nearly compulsive.
If you grew up in a small town in the late 70's/early 80's, the skating rink was the epitome of a social life. The time I spent coordinating my parachute pants with my strategically placed bandanas set the tone for the eyeliner, ratted hair, bondage gear goth days of my early 20's. My mom, being the rockstar she still is, would always give me money for my nights "out" at the rink. She did this every weekend, despite knowing that while all the other kids would be playing Pole Position and buying plastic trays of nuclear yellow nacho cheese dip, I would be huddled under the dj booth, flipping through the stack of used 45's for sale. Each Friday night, I'd come home hungry because I'd spent my treat money on a Blondie 45 or some Culture Club single. Yet, week after week, my mom would send me out the door with a $5 bill, and have a snack ready for me at 9 o'clock when I got home.
After amassing a rather substantial pile of 45's and LP's, I discovered the bright lights of Tape World and Musicland. Not being lucky enough to have access to any indie record stores as a kid, the mall was my source for all things cassette. As in my roller rink days, my mom would drop me and her friend's daughter Ashley off at Metcalf South in Overland Park, Kansas with my allowance and money for food and snacks. Inevitably, when she came to pick us up a couple of hours later, I'd crawl into her Thunderbird with a plastic bag full of tapes and band t-shirts, and a growling stomach.
High school led to an addiction to CD's and their empty promise of superior sound and indestructibility. Both of which were pretty much lies, but that didn't stop me from amassing a collection that now stands at a perfectly alphabatized 3-4 thousand, and is still growing. I can't count how many times I'd live off of canned tuna because I'd hit that poster child of 90's alternative nation, the used cd store, and spent all of my grocery money on a stack of obscure indie or industrial cd's and 12 inch vinyl. Whether it was my deep passion for music, or the surfacing of my OCD, I'd have to be alone the first time I listened to any new album. I'd organize stacks, saving the album that I was most excited about for last. Even now, one of my favorite sights is a stack of unopened cd's waiting for me tear the plastic off of them.
In the modern era of mp3's, ipods, and file trading, I either get laughed at or lauded for continuing to buy my music in a physical format. I do have 2 ipods that I love dearly and have packed to the brim with thousands of tracks. I have a cell phone that will hold music, as well as a pc with a hard drive full of music files. Yet, I still continue to buy cd's from my favorite bands, ask for them for birthdays and Christmas, and even when I download an album, I always, at least, burn a copy of it onto a CDR, often eventually buying an actual copy of it at some point. It's funny having guests over to our new apartment vs when old friends visit. The more recent people in our lives have no idea that there is are storage bins of music stacked in closets and under the bed, while my old friends inevitable ask where the hell my wall of music is.
I know rationally that converting everything to a digital format would free up so much space in my apartment. I'd no longer have a need for bookshelves or stacks of storage bins for storing my thousands of compact discs. I will even admit to falling for the ease of downloading. Not only have I been been able to discover hundreds of amazing bands online, but it's possible to track down songs and albums that I've been hunting for years or had nearly forgotten about. That said, I still see this as a nice addition to my music obsession and not a replacement. Regardless of ease, mobility, convenience, or free space under my bed, nothing can replace that feeling of flipping through a bin of cd's or albums and finding something amazing. I miss the days of walking into the Love Garden in Lawrence,Kansas, or Musicwerks and Sonic Boom in Seattle and having the person behind the counter spend 30 minutes playing me something new they thought that I'd love, just based on the stack of purchases I'd put on the counter. Just like nothing will ever come close to that lovely smell of a library, the sound of a small, hole in the wall record store is something that will always hold a very special place in my heart.
My friend, Damon, who is no longer with us, told me once that the moment he realized that he truly loved me as a friend was a night he and I spent drinking beer and talking about music. He said the light in my eyes and the passion that I was radiating while talking about bands, songs, and concerts was me at my best and something actually quite beautiful. That night is one of my favorite memories of Damon, and his comment I consider one of the biggest compliments that I have ever received. I know that my cd collection and the amount of space it takes up are an annoyance to my boyfriend, and that sometimes my single mindedness when it comes to fixating on an album, song, or band are probably a deficit when it comes to my conversational skills. Despite all of that, I know that anyone that truly knows and loves me gets it. They know that music is such an integral part of me. That passion for it makes up a large part of the man that I am. It's something I wouldn't trade for anything. I consider myself lucky to be such a sickly obsessed music geek and I'd still gladly trade my lunch money for the the new Cinematics cd any damned day.