Thursday, June 18, 2009

Boom Boxes and Record Stores

When I bought my house almost two years ago, it was spotless and had obviously been professionally cleaned. That said, it needed a lot of updates. It had been owned by the same family for over 40 years, and as we started to put our own spin on the place, we often discovered little remnants of the people who had lived here (Note: as a historian, I find these nuggets fascinating and forever interesting; as a parent, their presence makes me a little sad, like I'm plowing over all those memories... *sigh*).

One quirk about the garage is a pull-down ladder tucked into the ceiling that leads to the "attic" or crawl space. A full attic would be killer (so much potential!!!), but alas, it's more of a crawl space. It has a rickety ladder that I wouldn't allow my boyfriend (twice my weight) to attempt, but I was so eager to get up there and see it (the property inspector, a little dude, went up during the inspection. I didn't.) that I climbed carefully up into the ceiling within days of moving in. My guess is that because the previous owner was deceased and the house had sat vacant for a while that the realtor just wanted to sell the place and clear the most noticeable clutter......because there was a TREASURE TROVE of stuff up there. Two years later, several items are nestled here and there around the property (I am VERY GOOD at creative recycling), the most notable being a mid-size Panasonic boom box from the mid-1980s that now is the source for the tunes during outdoor work. Rock on!

One downside is that the tape player doesn't work--only the radio does. I still have a storage bin full of tapes in my basement......but anyway, because I listen to my own playlists or "Groove Salad" online radio while writing, I often throw the control of my musical preferences into the waves of local radio while working outside. While my home office is my refuge for writing and thinking and organizing one kind of work, my yard is my refuge away from that and for organizing a different kind of work (making a house into a home, me thinks). So, this lil' radio has become a part of the yard and our lives, in all its retro glory.

Note: I have done A LOT of work outside this year along with my boyfriend, his/my friends, and my son. By myself, I hit 97 Rock, FM 96.9 as it is the city's only station that calls itself "Classic Rock." Their song rotation is my domain--absolutely--being late 1960s through the early 1990s guitar rock, from "Purple Haze" to Pearl Jam (mostly pre-Yield material). The time passes quickly, I can sing along to almost everything, and while weeding and tending to peas, peppers, pots and petunias, my mind wanders to memories, stories, facts, and feelings about this era of our music history. Pretty damn cool, if you ask me.

There is little contestation about the station choice even if other people are around (we just did a HUGE pool remodel, so we had to corrale the troops. Good thing Bud Lite is cheap....). I have come up with two reasons for this: 1. the people we hang out with are our age or thereabouts, and this radio station has been playing "classic rock" since we were in highschool so this is the music of "our generation" through osmosis; 2. it isn't that big a deal. Tunes are tunes. I am aware of MY musical obsessions but certainly don't expect that from everyone. The world needs a healthy balance from all of our oddities, yes? So, again, pretty damn cool.

What's been happening to me over the past month or so, as my Diss work went on hiatus for two weeks and I found "other" things to do cheaply (work around the yard with tunes on), is paying more focused attention on what is played on radio in The Buff. AND, I hear a song and think, "Do I have that one?" so I yank off the garden gloves, and run into my office to check my iTunes folder. If not already imported, I check my CD racks in the front room. Although I have a lot variety and breadth in my music cache, I am baffled by my lack of some. Holy canoli! I need to have this song! How did I miss it? How do I have such gaping holes in my musical socks?

As this process has continiued, I have compiled a list of 64 songs that I love, don't posses, and NEED (perhaps "need" is a bit strong, but as I think about it, no, it is not....) 64!!!!! Holy hell!!! So, I have four choices, really:

1. do nothing and let these songs be the ones that I am dying to listen to when the radio plays them.
Upside: cheap.
Downside: highly satisfying in the moment of listening to them, then highly unsatisfying when I want my ears wrapped around them some other time.

2. ask friends if they possess these goodies and rip them into my iTunes.
Upside: cheap.
Downside: time consuming, perhaps strange/annoying for my friends.

3. buy them one by one on itunes (if they are there).
Upside: no waste. Only the songs I want.
Downside (several): the iTunes "burning" license limits my ability to use these songs on playlists I burn for people; not cheap ($64 and counting); slightly time consuming (but good for a rainy day like today); moderately unsatisfying (as an "object," each song only exists as a digital file in my computer--no art, nothing to "hold on to," digitally permanent yet physically ephemeral)

4. go to a record store and buy them. *GASP* Go a record store!?!?! When the fuck was the last time I did that??? Mon dieu! My heartrate is rising. I LOVE the record store...however....
Downside first this time: very expensive and moderately time consuming (unless it's a rainy day like today), physically inconvenient (Buffalo and suburbs have suffered the "giant sucking sound" of indie record stores and I'm not going to the mall/Target/Walmart to buy music. Period.), OVERWHELMING---I will spend hours and hours spinning like a whirling dervish in the store. It will be a challenge to GET ME OUT of the store once I'm there, and my mortgage payment will evaporate into "Dust in the Wind," for sure.
Upside: undeniably satisfying. Wandering around bins and bins of sonic potential. Holding the goods in my hand, ritualistically trying to get the wrappers off, looking through the CD jacket material, thowing it into the CD player for a spin. Listening. Anytime I want.

Hmmmmmm. My initial reaction to the above list is interesting (to me). When iTunes launched, I was making better money (*sigh*) and gleefully added fun tune after fun tune into my ever-expanding music folder. Click. Got 'em, one by one. And, I have found iTunes to be helpful for accessing historical music material/songs for teaching, but that's the stuff of academics, not obsessions.

No. 1 seems the easiest and most random. What the hell....just let it go.....Yeah, right.
No. 2 seems like more trouble than it's worth---how to canvass friends, how to collect their material, burn it, return it, and risk the raised-eyebrow-factor followed by questions like, "Um, yeah, so Judy, um, how's the Diss coming?" once my motives for this "project" are revealed.
No. 3 elicits a gut reaction that is surprising: "Hell, no." I love technology, but this option unnerves me, like I'd be not only ripping the song (while paying for it), but I'd be ripping off the context of the song (even as I have done this in the past. My own hypocracy is not lost on me...). Classic Rock is what has led me to everything else. For real. I can't just have one song from The Who that I'm missing....I need ALL of The Who. Dig? Oy.
No. 4 seems like the most fun, the most satisfying, and the most invigorating. But, wow. Can it be done?

Today is rainy writing day (Chapter 3), so I'm safely distanced from entering the backyard and turning on the Boom Box. Instead, I am listening to the ambient juiciness of Groove Salad internet radio. Ahhhh. Impulses curbed once more. Credit cards in the other room. Search engines closed. I cannot make a rash decision about something like this, now can I? :)

I'd make this a collective effort and publish the list below, but I think I'll keep the actual "List of 64 Project" close to the hip. For instance, how can I ask someone if they possess Pink Floyd's The Wall on CD without acknowledging THAT I DON'T? Sad, but true. I am riddled with many, many flaws.....

Option 5 would be free file-sharing, the online marketplace spawned by Napster. Grrrrrrrr......

Your thougts or suggestions appreciated. For music obsessives like me--rock on!

1 comment:

Katie said...

Judy -
send me your list if you don't want to publish it for all to see. I will not judge you because sometimes I say to myself, "how do I NOT have that album?!?!" in a totally incredulous voice.
I will look over your list and send what I can...