Known Johnson

January 31, 2006

Catch and release

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 1:05 pm

Longtime readers, and friends in general, know that I have a very conflicted relationship with music. I love it, love it dearly, and besides the obvious things like family, it dominates my life. It’s nearly all-consuming hold over me, however, eventually culminates in a kind of spiteful reverence for it – I know how powerful it is, I know that I am essentially powerless to resist it, yet I sometimes just want to spit on it and yell about how greedy it is and how jealous I get because there’s always more. I can’t keep up.

There are countless occasions on which I’ve stared at my ever-shifting music collection and sighed, then silently asked, “Why are you all here?” And thus begins the slow process of delaminating some of this music from my life. At first it’s just a little tingle, a dissatisfaction that I have so much and, honestly, listen to relatively little of it (the key word there being “relatively,” of course – I still listen to a lot of music.) This wasn’t always the case – I have always had clear favorites, obviously, like anyone else – but my desire was always more in finding something new and wonderful to fascinate me for a while. Like others, as I’ve gotten older my list of favorites has solidified for the most part, but has slowly continued to grow little by little.

So as the tingle subsides – having shed a small number of obviously unnecessary discs on Amazon and Half.com or at the local used music store – a new urge arises. In years past I have referred to this as The Big Purge – as if the relatively small number of discs that I have sold off were keystones in an arch, or the plug in the levee, suddenly it all comes crashing down, flooding out, etc. I begin to question most everything, with very few artists’ catalogues remaining free of scrutiny. Inevitably, I wind up with a tall stack of things I’ve become clear-eyed enough to see are no longer necessary, and they move on to new homes, and I pocket some cash or a bunch of credit for later purchases (more like “sooner,” however.)

Maybe it’s growing up, or becoming a father, I don’t know – but all of a sudden I find that there’s a lot of music that simply no longer applies to my life, moreso than ever before. What’s more, I am confident like never before that a line was unknowingly drawn, probably shortly after Amanda was born, that is unlikely to ever be crossed again. Just like I can’t imagine my life without her, I also can’t imagine how a lot of this stuff fits in my new life, either. In a way, it feels irresponsible to continue to seek out new music, even by well-established favorites, while I maintain this huge collection of things that seem only to be attracting dust. And so I’ve made the decision to go with my gut on this – it’s time to let some, maybe a lot of this go, allowing the collection to dwindle down to a more reasonable number of essentials. The primary deciding factor will be a simple one, derived after a month with my Ipod-less truck: what must I absolutely, without question, physically have on hand in case I lost my Ipod, lost all my files, or had a car that couldn’t handle an Ipod. Exceptions will be made for the few true sentimental favorites I own, but for everything else deemed inessential, they will be preserved in a tenuous way on my harddrive as mp3s – just in case of that once-a-year-or-two urge that pops up. It should be fairly easy . . . but as with anything relating to my love of music, it’s not – not with 1500 CDs to examine and rank. The prospect is, however, reinvigorating, making me excited about music in a way I haven’t been in a while, as well as excited about what I can do with the freedom (and, to be honest, the cash) of ridding so much of it in such a short time.

Now comes the hard part.

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