Last night I found an old DVD player – I remember buying it a few years back, using it for a while, but it wouldn’t play any multi-zone discs and so it was tucked away in a cabinet. I bought an even cheaper model ($19.99 in a supermarket) and that one works brilliantly; plays everything.
Of course for the most part we stream content now. We click on links, we follow shows on Netflix and Lightbox and (sometimes) Neon and Amazon Prime. We watch whole movies via YouTube and other sites. I sometimes get ‘official’ screener-links to view films too. The DVD player has mostly been used for the boy – he watches YouTube and Netflix too but he likes DVDs. He’s into the pageantry, oddly. And I can’t think where he would have got that from…
So, anyway, the new/old DVD player has been repurposed as a CD player.
I haven’t had a CD player – apart from the one in the car – for closing in on a decade now I guess.
I listen to vinyl. I listen to the clogged-af iTunes on my computer. A chord connects it to the stereo. I use Spotify and Bandcamp and Soundcloud and whatever else. I get sent ‘official’ links from time to time. I do some digging at other times.
But I still get sent CDs. And I maintain that if a person is making a CD (still?) and, er, marketing it – that’s what they should send. I do a lot of my music-listening, for reviewing, in the car. I copy the CD to the computer to listen to it, but check through the booklet, etc. I’ll happily review a link, sure. Or an LP. Or a tape for that matter. None of it really matters – beyond the music.
It felt like finding new music. It felt better than that – because I’d heard a lot of it already.
Last night I listened to Barb Jungr’s incredible collection of Elvis Presley covers and to Madlib’s Quasimoto alias, to Jonathan Richman’s Modern Lovers, the jazz drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, the XTC-spinoff The Dukes of Stratosphear, Felix Da Housecat, a “comeback” album from the great David Axelrod (recorded in the early 2000s) and the American classical pianist Christopher O’Riley – doing his interpretations of Radiohead songs. Oh, chuck in The Black Crowes’ debut too. Go on…
Now, none of that is to show off any range or quirk – I’m neither proud nor ashamed. It was just a very interesting run of music – apart from Richman I don’t own any of those names on vinyl. And sure, I could find all of that online, and sometimes have – I have played Jungr from Spotify quite recently and Felix Da Housecat too. But I just can’t imagine ever planning to listen to The Black Crowes. And it was great, by the way.
I have folders and folders of compact discs. I’ve sold/traded/given away thousands – literally thousands – of CDs. I used to pile up review copies, work through them and then trade them in – the exchange being that I’d get a small handful of great new LPs or a bulk load of very cheap second-hand singles and albums. It was a good deal. I was paying for my record collection with time spent reviewing – listening to, in most cases, flat-out ghastly garbage-music. But someone had to do it. (This was back when we, er, needed reviewers…)
I still have thousands of CDs – most of them ‘burnt’ copies. I made duplicates for the car and – archaic throwback! – the discman?! I received record company promos – no cover, no info, no way to trade or get rid of them…beyond landfill. Many of them were great, or will be great when I get to revisiting them.
Don’t get me wrong – I love being able to click and find things, Spotify’s new release Friday system is (one of) the quickest ways to hear new music almost straight away.
New music is great. I’ve loved so many albums this year. And last. And, most likely, next.
And though I’ve reconnected with a lot of music 5, 10, 20 and 25 years old – and older – via Spotify and YouTube and from seeing what other people are posting and listening to on Facebook there was something simple, joyous, wonderful about digging through the folders and playing CDs that I haven’t selected and heard in 5, 10 and 20 years.
Not all of it is great. But there’s something very calming about the music playing off to the side – no counter on this DVD player, no display – it’s just there happening. Until it doesn’t. When the CD stops. That’s it. I get up, select something else.
Simple pleasures. Easy joy.