I know I know I know. The compact disc started its descent over a decade ago. Where have I been? Well, my mind was occupied with a literary endeavor. The last time I took an A&R meeting (with one of the ones who are still left) I played a demo I had burned to a CD. It’s been a while.
But now I’m taking a moment to ponder the reality.
When we moved into our current home in 1999 Adam and I had a custom oak structure built so we could proudly and artfully display our musical collection. (We had vinyl too but that’s another story.) If I was asked to write with a recording artist I could easily pull out their CD for reference and go for a drive. Truth is, I haven’t actually reached for one in years.
Last week someone handed me their EP. I tossed it into my purse and the next day when I went to have a listen I was perplexed. I walked all around my house looking for a slot to slip it into. No slot. So I thought, well I can just import it into my computer. No slot there either. Nor in my car.
By the same token, when I want somebody to hear one of my songs I send them a link to it on SoundCloud or I email them an mp3 which arrives in their inbox in the form of a thin black strip which could inadvertently be deleted or trashed, automatically sent to spam, overlooked in the blink of an eye.
Do I want to go back to an analog world? Not really. (I also do not wish to make a call on a rotary phone or refer to a Thomas Guide to find directions to your house.) The only thing I hold against digital streaming is the way it disenfranchises songwriters. That said, there was just something a bit more tangible about handing someone something that wasn’t invisible…something they could touch…that took up space. There are those who would argue all that space-taking was not practical. I get it. But I can’t fully concur. I’m too sentimental.
For instance, I’ve considered scanning my family pictures from all my photo albums onto my computer. But a digital reference on a screen is just not as cozy as flipping weighty pages in front of a fire with a glass of wine and a dear friend.
So here I stand contemplating the disposing of all these CDs. Can’t I wait just a little longer before I take the plunge? They aren’t hurting anyone…anything…except maybe my reputation. But so what? And besides, what will I put on those empty shelves which were crafted specifically for objects 5 inches in height and 5.5 inches in depth?
Furthermore, I can’t help but think about the all the hard work and love that went into making the music that resides inside those dusty jewel cases. (True, the music won’t actually be gone…it exists at my fingertips on that other medium—that invisible digital stream). So I could relax about it. But I can’t.
Because although I’m all about the moment I’m living in, and I move willingly (albeit curiously), into the days ahead, I can’t ignore where I come from. Musically speaking, the physical touchable product represents an era in which I am happy to have lived. I can not simply move into the future without taking an appropriate amount of time to appreciate and respect the past.
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