I’ve been in the process of ripping my CD collection to iTunes. I have a few hundred CDs, so this is taking a long time. But it’s also making me aware of how many CDs I have that I haven’t listened to in ages, or listened to only once, or never even listened to at all. (Dvorak’s Stabat Mater? When did I buy that?)
I used to have all my CDs sitting in their original jewel cases in a big CD rack, but a few years ago I bought a few hundred Case Logic sleeves and transferred my whole collection into them. I then put the sleeved discs into boxes. My collection takes up a lot less space, but since I no longer have the CDs in a rack with all the spines facing outward, I no longer know what I have in my collection.
I’ve got a ton of classical CDs. During my second year of college, I became interested in classical music. I bought a classical music guide recommending recordings for famous pieces, and I used to pore through it all the time. In Charlottesville I’d go to Plan 9 Records and flip through their offerings and sometimes even buy stuff; I’d do the same thing at Tower Records when I’d come back home to New Jersey and New York.
I became addicted to buying classical music CDs. It continued from college through law school, still in Charlottesville. What I loved most of all were complete collections: all of Mozart’s string quartets in one box, or all of Shostakovich’s quartets, or all of Brahms’s chamber music. They always came in such beautiful cardboard cases; how could I resist? I would stand there in the store, holding it in my hand, looking at the price tag, thinking, oh my god I want to buy this so badly, but I shouldn’t be spending 60 bucks or 80 bucks on CDs, and who knows if I’ll ever listen to some of these pieces? But I wanted them. It wasn’t just about listening to them; it was about having them. I would be paralyzed, standing there in the middle of the store. Reason might win over and I’d put it away and go home. But the next time — or maybe the time after that — the addiction would win. Trembling, excited, I’d go up to the counter and pay for the box of CDs, feeling guilty and ashamed but really wanting it anyway.
I should point out that I was completely in the closet at this point in my life and had no sexual outlet. Make of that what you will.
I was also really picky about which recordings of a piece I’d buy. If the store had a copy of the Penguin Guide or the Gramophone Guide, I’d study the entry intently for the piece I was looking to buy. If the store didn’t carry any of the recordings that were recommended by the guides, I wouldn’t buy them.
Anyway, I’ve been importing my CDs into iTunes one by one, and I’m already benefiting: it’s great to do a search and see everything I have that’s conducted by Leonard Bernstein or Robert Shaw (shaw shaw shaw) (sorry, inside joke), or everything by Mozart, or whatever. I have lots more CDs to import, though. I may need to buy a bigger external hard drive to store it all.