February 08, 2003

Ripping Yarns

Since I got an MP3 jukebox I've been ripping CDs left and right, and the upshot is that I've been listening to tunes I hadn't heard in years. It's been fun, but also a tad unsettling, as I'm having to reconsider some of my earlier purchases. There's a whole slew of CDs that I'm not going to put on the jukebox, ever, and a bunch of others that might make it on if there's room later. And then there are some CDs I've put on it already that I'm now wondering about.

All of this is dismaying in two different ways.

First, I'm a bit of a hoarder. My recent purge of our bookshelves (which purge isn't really finished yet, either) is an extremely rare event. I get rid of CDs even less often. Who knows--it might not appeal to me today, but perhaps it will appeal to me tomorrow. I hold on to things.

But if I can't be bothered to put a CD on my Jukebox, is there any point in keeping it at all? Some of them, of course, simply reflect Jane's taste rather than mine, and those we're obviously keeping. But what about the rest? If I don't want to listen to them, why keep them? But what if I change my mind later? It is a puzzlement, as the King of Siam would say.

(A digression: some would say that if this is the extent of the problems in my life, I am singularly blessed. And, God be thanked, they would be right to say so. :-)

The second problem is even sillier. I'm one of the guys that Album-Oriented Rock was created for. I like to listen to entire albums--if you just listen to the hits, you miss some good stuff. It's been an unconsidered article of faith with me that you don't pick and choose; you listen to the whole thing, and get to know it well. And I still think that that's a good approach, on the whole; not everything you hear is accessible on first listening, and some things that are delightful at first breed contempt with familiarity.

And yet, as I listen to some discs I hadn't heard in years, I find that some of the songs simply don't measure up. I'll take David Bowie's "Let's Dance" album as an example. I went through a serious Bowie phase while I was in college, and bought this album when it was new. And yet, as I listen to it now, I find that most of the songs are dated, boring, or just plain dumb. There are maybe two songs on the album that I'd care to hear again--and even those I wonder about.

So what do I do? Delete the songs I've decided I dislike, and keep the rest? But then I can't listen to the album as a whole any more. Delete the whole album? There's some attraction to that, in this case anyway. At least that way I won't ever be puzzled over which songs I deleted and why. But then I can't listen to the ones I like.

The whole issue is academic at this point, as I still have 8 GB of space left on the jukebox. But as it gets full, I suspect I'll be forced to be more exclusive. Eventually I'll prune it down until every track is a (possibly flawed) gem.

Posted by Will Duquette at February 8, 2003 10:43 PM