Dazed And Confused (Not the movie, and not the song; I’m just a little dazed and a lot confused)
You gotta love technology, dontcha? The advancement of that is. Me, I’ve always thought of myself as a proponent of such things; the newer, the more convenient, the shinier, the better. Being raised in the era of vinyl you would think that I would have clung to that particular format when the cassette tape came out. I did, kind of, although I looked at the cassette as a kind of extension to vinyl. I could now tape my favorite songs in whatever order I chose, and share them with whoever I wanted to. It also mobilized music for me (I never owned an 8-track player), the format was something I could play in my car on the way to a club, or a gig.
Then along came CD’s in the mid ‘80’s, although I didn’t really take notice (too expensive!) when they were first introduced. But it wasn’t long before I did, which just happened to, coincidentally, occur when the prices started approaching the cost of a vinyl LP. I remember going into the record stores and seeing a few rows of these new disks, which were sparse and nothing to compete with the stacks and stacks of vinyl LP’s. The CD was, at that time, still an audiophile’s game. Looking back I can now remember just how fast the ‘takeover’ was. It was like they were adding a new row of these shiny shiny disks every hour on the hour, squeezing out the larger, more cumbersome vinyl at a remarkable rate. Shelf space is everything in retail, yes, and this new format was nothing if not ‘compact’. Pretty soon the shelf space for vinyl was limited to nothing but 12” DJ mixes, and the price on these started to rise, which was askew to the ‘supply and demand’ edict my father drove into my brain from an early age.
I embraced the change, wholeheartedly as a matter of fact. It actually rekindled my interest in collecting. So when I decided I’d had enough of the snow in Canada and bought a one-way ticket to San Diego in 1993 I loaded up my milk crates full of vintage vinyl (immaculate vinyl…all in plastic sleeves, but of course) and gave them to a friend. Can you imaging the cost of shipping some 15 milk crates across the boarder? But I just couldn’t give up those CD’s, so I loaded ‘em up in an army style duffle bag and, along with another duffle bag full of clothes, I jumped on a plane and “moved to Beverly…Hills, that is”. No, not Beverly Hills, of course: El Cajon, which loosely translated from the Spanish, means “The Box”, or the Coffin.
Fast forward to now, ‘cause this little missive is getting a little long in the tooth, wouldn’t you agree? CD’s are dying, vinyl is making some sort of weird ‘comeback’, the album as a format is deader than dead, file sharing has come and gone and come again, MP3’s (with their shitty sound) are de rigueur and the norm.
I’m no Luddite. I love my IPOD, I regularly maintain my unruly and totally unmanageable ITunes library, I have all of my tunes backed up on DVD’s and an external hard drive, but for some reason just cannot make myself load up those hard copies into a box and move them into the garage. I like to look at them. I like to take them out and read the liner notes, look at the photos and the covers and read the lyrics. I also still like to shop for CD’s. There’s something very comforting, and calming, about going to a store and just browsing. I maintain a ‘wish list’ of possible future CD purchases I keep in my wallet, which consist of impossible to find rarities that have long been discontinued with the hope that I may stumble across one of them sometime. And I sometimes do, and when I do I get excited. Very excited, as a matter of fact. These things give me hope, and you may think I’m weird and more than just a little old fashioned, but these little rituals make me happy. It’s just not the same to click on a mouse. Instant gratification ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, in my humble opinion.