Saturday, March 20, 2010

Music Goes Round and Round

New computer means making sure I have all my happy CDs turned into MP3s. I am so glad I am old fashioned enough to prefer CDs. I've lost files often enough, or had to make emergency back ups and not gotten it all, that I really like that whole "more or less permanent" media feeling.

As I've combed my collection to fill holes, I find myself rediscovering music I haven't listened to in years -- you know, the way old people do? I'm an old people now, or at least working my way toward it. And I have music I haven't heard in 10 years or more.

For instance, I was once a huge Dire Straits fan. Now, Dire Straights hasn't made an album in the studio since 1991, and I don't have them all (I'm missing one studio album and all the live and compilations). At some point after Brothers in Arms I lost interest. The same goes for all my Talking Heads, Bare Naked Ladies, Laurie Anderson...oh, there are just so many. Would you pick me as a King Crimson or Emerson, Lake and Palmer fan? I got CDs that demonstrate it.

We have a few hundred CDs. Lots of them are The Husband's yoga and exercise CDs -- once upon a time he bought anything that sounded like it might activate an alpha wave. We have a lot of Disney soundtracks (just got a few from the Pixar movies, still want The Incredibles.) I have a few big band collections, and a lot of stuff I ripped while at the Mother-in-Law's house.

Among the more odd bits are CDs from my Ren Faire days -- Baltimore Consort, in particular, and New World Renaissance Band, Clannad and Enya and The Chieftains. I don't listen to it anymore. In fact, listening to the Celtic/Traditional songs that were practically all I heard for so many years can bring me to tears. It's too solidly attached to a particular time and place in the past, a time and place far gone now.

For that matter, as much as I used to live and die for Kate Bush, now I rarely pull up a song (her last album didn't do much more me). Instead, I'm all about Imogen Heap and Tori Amos. Like a lot of people, my music life was pretty much my teens and twenties, which means a lot of late 70s/80s music (and most of that is on LPs). I used to love such questionable music as Foreigner and Styx (well, early Styx isn't questionable). I think I played Queen's Bohemiam Rhapsody and Kansas's Point of Know Return until the LPs wore out.

However, some music remains with me. I can listen to Steely Dan/Donald Fagan all the time. I get moods for Sting/The Police from time to time. I can happily dig into Bobby McFerrin for a few hours. I'm not tired of Thievery Corporation or Chemical Brothers yet.

And I still -- occasionally -- tune in to something new. Maybe.


Nina May said...

Finally found you outside the Monkeycage on my meanderings :) Wandered briefly back through your posts (probably do more when I need to procrastinate again) ... your jewellry is lovely.

Being the kind-of next-along generation, the only snippets of Styx and Foreigner are what Supernatural introduced me to, especially the incomparable "Renegade". I never went exploring much past those songs, though. Their use of AC/DC also finally prompted me to give in to that little part of my Australian identity and buy one of their albums. (Incidentally, the first cd I ever bought was Paula Abdul's "Forever Your Girl", when I was twelve. It's still around, somewhere. I thought it was really cool. I like to believe my tastes have matured.)

Dire Straits have a kind of lingering presence from my childhood which provokes nostalgia, but no full-blown embrace. Too early to be part of the music habits I chose for myself. Although interestingly I am now culling out a few things from Mark Knopfler's later stuff. Sometimes he hits this haunting mixture of melancholy and whimsy that gets me right here, you know? And then sometimes he ... doesn't.

Led Zeppelin, on the other hand, is as fresh and surprising when I listen to them today as they were when my boyfriend at sixteen introduced it to me. In fact, my appreciation has grown. I'm not a rocker chick, by the way; my tastes range all over. Currently listening to Sigur Ros, Thomas Newman, Kane Welch Kaplin, gotye, St Germain, and, yes, Imogen Heap.

I used to be violently against exactly this cherry-picking of music that I now do, much prefering to purchase the entire album on cd (I'm a tactile person), and take the whole thing as the artist (well, and producers) intended. Second-hand music shops were some of my favourite places to spend an hour or two. A lot of songs on albums are ones I would not have taken to straight away, and therefore not have purchased on their own; many have ended up in comfortable places in my listening rotation.

But now it's all on my computer. I moved across the world, and cds are inconveniently bulky to bring, so they're all sitting somewhere in my brother's place. And music isn't produced for albums any more, not the way they were for LPs. They're designed for cherry-picking. And I've run out of anything resembling a disposable income. And my exploration is able to become wider, if shallower. I don't know what that's going to do to my music-listening frontiers as I approach the watershed 30th birthday, but I can hope. I hope.

Sorry to waffle on so long. I think it's partly Leverage withdrawal. And I like your writing.

Sherri said...

Welcome, Nina May :) Comments are for commenting, so comment at will.

I can't bring myself to get Led Zepplin on CD or MP3. A former boyfriend had all the albums and I listened to them frequently, and they just require the LP to be right. I still have crates of venerable LPs in storage. One day I will be able to touch them and play them on the creaky turntable I also have stored there.

Nina May said...

A former boyfriend had all the albums

As did my aforementioned. Funny how that works. Although we only had the cds to fall in love with. I never had the pleasure of LPs.

Speaking of the sound "just being right", you might appreciate this article I ran across not too long ago, although it was written in 2007, after the Zep reunion concert. It had me practically snorting coffee out my nose in a public place, so fair warning. And it's written by a Brit, so if irreverently critical humour is not to your taste, it might not work for you. On the other hand, given the content of your post, you might agree the author has a point.

(As you can see, I am not shy about commenting, so I will....)

Sherri said...

I've no problem with the Brit sense of humor -- I've long experience with it :) Interesting article, and for the most part, true. Few are those who can perform at 60 what they did at 23, and why in hell do we 1) expect them to 2) encourage them to try?

Baby boomerism is an evil plague.