Saturday, August 18, 2007

Compact Discs

This [click on the post title for the link] can't really be called an article; it's more of a stream of thematically linked factoids about one of the late 20th century's perfect objects: the CD. My Dad got the family's first CD player when I was in first grade ('86, I think--I seem to remember it was in the Spring) and I'll never forget climbing up the back porch steps with Simon and Garfunkel's The Boxer blasting through the very walls of our house--it was right at the chorus, "Lie la lie [BOOOOM!] Lie la lie lie lie la lie; lie la lie [BOOOOOM!]" etc. I read later that they used a ridiculous huge drum that had been installed in the bottom of an elevator shaft in an office building in New York City for that [BOOOOM!]. I hope they recorded on a weekend.

By the time I was in high school Dad's CD collection was the thing of legend. My jazz-loving friends would come over and marvel at it--easy to do, as it covered an entire wall of the living room and was sending out feelers and tendrils for more annex-able space. It was also, if I may say, really really good stuff. You could pick any jewel box off those shelves and at the very worst it would be interesting.

Just yesterday at Half-Price Books in downtown Berkeley I found two CDs I remembered from Dad's collection: For the Beauty of Wynonna by Daniel Lanois (you may think you've never heard of him, but if you've listened to any popular music produced in the last 20 years you've heard his work) and Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings by John Prine (and if you've never heard of John Prine you've got yourself a mission then, haven't you--start with his Greatest Hits album; his song about the political climate as of two or three years ago, "Some Humans Ain't Human," is also particularly fine).

I'm sad to see CDs going the way of cassettes and LPs, although the continued presence of vinyl fetishists gives me hope that the those shiny little discs aren't headed for the same lonely fate as the 8-Track. But I must admit, I have felt the pull of this century's current fetish object (a thing so perfect that the book about it is titled The Perfct Thing)--so compact! So powerful! So convenient! And I would love to be able to download lectures, sermons, podcasts, etc. BUT! The Andy and Sarah family budget is one thing, the restrictions (Grrr...DRM!) on what you can and can't play are another, and the fact that an iPod file is only about 10% of the same song on a CD is a third. Plus, it's one more thing, or more specifically, one more place to shove other things. I can easily see my iPod filling up with music and podcasts and such that I download intending to listen to later and then never get around to--just another location for compulsions and intentions to orbit around.

Hmmm...Blogger's still not letting me post pictures--looks like the "Add Image" button has gotten swapped with the "Save Now" button. Maybe tomorrow.

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