Saying Goodbye to My CD Collection

I start­ed pack­ing up my remain­ing CDs last night. I’ve final­ly real­ized that no mat­ter how often I tell myself that I’ll rip them to a dri­ve, or that I’ll fall in love with the medi­um all over again, they will only col­lect dust in a dark cor­ner of my house. Don’t believe me? Look how many times I’ve lied to myself about it!

I’m rid­ding myself of a col­lec­tion I’ve built over 20 years. With a lit­tle effort, I could turn the entire thing into a Spo­ti­fy playlist in about an hour. It’s hard not to feel defeat­ed. How often did I spend mon­ey bet­ter spent on food or clothes on music that I bare­ly heard? I’m still find­ing unopened CDs with receipts that are a decade old. Now I’ll sell them for pen­nies on the dol­lar and be glad.

I’m doing my best to not be sen­ti­men­tal about it, but it’s brought back mem­o­ries of trips to record stores around the world. My R.E.M. CDs have been with me since I lugged them to Den­mark as a 17 year old! I can still remem­ber how much I cher­ished the 40-odd albums I took on exchange. I remem­ber when my col­lec­tion bal­looned to 120 care­ful­ly curat­ed discs in grad school. I spent time man­i­cur­ing it, trad­ing in to trade up, bud­get­ing as best I could to have a col­lec­tion my peers would respect. It grew to near­ly 1500 discs when I moth­balled it in the walk-in clos­et. Now as I pack it up and pre­pare myself to sell it all, I shake my head with every obscure disc I find encased in shrink wrap.

If you or some­one you know would like to own a music col­lec­tion that imme­di­ate­ly makes it seem like you came of age in the ’90s, you might want to stop by AKA Music in the next cou­ple weeks. It’s only fit­ting that I take them back to the place where I spent so much time and mon­ey on the music I’ve loved most.

The New Desert Island Disc Dilemma

I’ve been par­ing down my CD col­lec­tion in recent weeks and it’s giv­en me occa­sion to reflect on my behav­ior in rough­ly a decade or so of heavy music consumption.

What have I learned? Who was that guy? I remem­ber spend­ing many a night at Mon­do Kim’s or AKA or pret­ty much any record store, fiend­ing in the used bin for any­thing note­wor­thy. Now I’m reap­ing the whirlwind.

There are discs that I’ve owned for ages that remain unopened, yet they still have sen­ti­men­tal val­ue sim­ply because I can remem­ber buy­ing them and then car­ry­ing them from dorm to apart­ment to dorm to apart­ment to house. Yet I can’t part with them.

I’ve come to the decid­ed­ly rock­ist con­clu­sion that the endgame of this purge is to select those artists whose work has ongo­ing mean­ing in my life and hold them fast and shake the rest out. Anoth­er way of say­ing this is that I’m apply­ing the auteur the­o­ry in the most vul­gar man­ner pos­si­ble to reduce the num­ber of total CDs in my col­lec­tion, those that I won’t just rip and for­get for all eternity.

For those of us cling­ing to phys­i­cal media in a dig­i­tal media world, it’s a game of “desert island discs” renewed, with a twist. What CDs would you keep to avoid your favorite tunes van­ish­ing into the ether after your hard­drive crashed?