About a month ago I went on a deep DEEP purge of my CD collection. I was ripping discs to my computer for hours like it was a factory job, trying to hold on to the digital keepsakes before I condemned much of my physical music to the equivalent of that “farm upstate” where many a childhood pet disappeared: the used music store.
It was difficult to determine which albums were important enough to warrant occupying physical space in my life, but then I started to get hung up on the packaging of the things. My son even got in on the action and saved a few from the used-music gallows with a delighted “oooooh, this one’s a keeper!” He wasn’t judging any of the albums by the music, mind you, but the coolness of the package it came in. If, years from now, Ethan pulls one of those extravagantly packaged hunks of plastic off my shelf and decides to actually listen to it—maybe even enjoy it—then I’d say that’s a win-win. So, a new measure of worth was formed as I started loading banker boxes with the has-beens and also-rans. (Okay, so it still hurt to let go of just about anything, but sometimes you’ve gotta set yourself free from all that weight.) The end tally: five boxes in the "out" pile and three in the keepers. My next quest was to figure out which stores even bought used CDs anymore. It was at this point that fate led me to what will surely be the path of financial ruin: High Voltage Records.
Indeed, High Voltage still buys used CDs but are extremely selective about what they’ll take (I think they told me this twice, if fact: once over the phone and once in person as I lugged in all those banker boxes). While the store crew went to work sorting and culling, I half-heartedly browsed their used CD collection. Why the hell would I buy more CDs if the goal was to be rid of them? After about 30 minutes, they wanted to buy three of my five boxes, surprising the living shit out of me. I guess in all of my heavy-duty “collecting years,” I’d put together a pretty rich, eccentric batch of music; even my cast-offs housed a lot of gems. Suddenly all that plastic transformed into a fist-full of cash just south of $200 bucks, so I decided to enter their room full of vinyl records and had my eureka-gasm.
Before I go on, it’s worth mentioning my complex relationship with vinyl. It was always my belief that if I were to become one of those people who collect Real Albums—those damn, dusty purists who think a big hunk of wax activated by a pin somehow improves their listening experience and reveals the face of God—that I would a) disappear up my own asshole and then b) have to rent a two bedroom apartment that exclusively housed my music collection (perhaps while my family and I huddled outside in a refrigerator box). Seriously: I knew it would get ugly. So here I stood, in a room full of vinyl and sporting a mental erection, thinking: what format combined all the trimmings only a packaging fetishist could truly appreciate in one oversized artifact (especially alongside those puny little jewel cases)? I was practically swimming in the answer. Behold: The Golden Calf! I looked at that wad of cash I was clutching in my sweaty right hand then back at the temple in which I stood and thought: “Fuck…this really is how it ends.”