Sunday, March 14, 2010

Am I The Only Idiot Buying CD's ?

Having a bit of time to kill last night on my way to see some rockabilly bands, I decided to go to the local HMV. I didn't really expect to find anything I liked, but went anyway.

It took me a while to locate the section in the gargantuan retail space that actually had music in it. It was a surreal experience trying to figure exactly what they were trying to sell. Was it video games, movies or just a bunch meaningless shit with cool pictures?

It turns out the so-called music section was relegated to the second floor. All music styles from classical to punk were crammed into the gloomy mezzanine. Bored looking staff eager for any type of human contact pounced on any unsuspecting soul, eagerly asking if they could help them find something. Their desperate looks seemed to tacitly imply " Something, Anything. Please kill me".

It was a strange experience. It felt almost post-apocalyptic. The few people that actually were browsing for CD's sheepishly looked at the other people trying to avoid eye contact. Kinda like the moped to ride until one of your friends see you.

That feeling slowly permeated over me as well; I was starting to feel like a sucker. As I whipped out my glasses to read the CD's , I felt like an OLD sucker. Kinda like when I was a kid and used to see those old freaks buying used records. I used to think " what kind of freak would buy fucking used records?" I kind of felt like on of those freak-os.

I was attending a death watch. Not a lively Irish wake where you celebrate the life of a dearly departed one, but a sombre death march. A once hale and hearty friend, struck down in his prime by a virulent disease called MP-3 dying a slow death and withering away.

It was a strange feeling indeed, but I actually managed to find something worthwhile. As I bellied up to the cash register, I was greeted by a very young cashier who gave me a look reserved for mentally deficient people who have just peed their pants in public.

I detected a slight smirk as he rang up the amount and said "$50.38 please". I felt a cold sweat as I handed him 3 twenties and waited for my change. I got the fuck outta that cavernous mausoleum as quickly as I could, walking out the door to the strains of bad pop music echoing of the concrete walls and the suspicious looks of the rent-a-cops posted at the exit. Yeah, I definitely needed a drink now.

I arrived at the bar and ordered that drink, serenaded by the mosquito buzzing of 2000 songs emanating from an I-Pod hooked up to the PA. More drinks, right now, bartender!

I am no Luddite ( I'm using a computer right now ain't I?) , I have embraced technology and all the positive aspects that come with it, but my shopping experience brought forth the fact that a profound change has occurred.

Not so long ago, that very same HMV was Virgin Superstore. It was a lively place filled with music lovers of all stripes happily browsing for hours. I myself would spend many a Saturday afternoon in the Country section alone. Every week they would post new releases of fairly obscure music and they even had listening posts where you could check it out. You could actually get Big Sandy, Dale Watson, Robbie Fulks and Hank III. I would always find something that I liked.

The Jazz section was immense and they actually had a Cajun section! The classical section was behind glass doors, as it should be. Without making any assumptions, that's pretty much where those weirdos belong. Having sold high end audio for many years, I can attest first hand, after many endless demos of psychosis inducing Classical music, that you kinda have to have rocks in your head to listen to that stuff.

There is nothing quite like firing up a newly acquired CD on a good sound system. During my on-again off-again tenure if the stratospheric world of esoteric audio, I have listened to rockabilly and country on some truly astounding audio systems. With today's recording technology, unparalleled music reproduction is possible. Played on the likes of Linn, Wilson Audio, Krell, Levinson etc., you could swear the band was right there in front of you.

Loud! I like it loud. Ear bleeding, bowel liquefying damned loud. I have a fried 400 Watt power amp to prove it. I drink beer and it gets even louder. Your high frequency perception is inversely proportional to the amount of beers you've had. that's why your stereo is at eleven when you wake up the next day.

My amplifier is in the shop right now. As a brilliant electronics guru is trying to figure just what exactly I did to that beast of an amp, I am relegated to listening to I-Tunes on some 49 dollar plastic computer speakers. Not exactly a soul-stirring experience. It's akin to eating of one those ersatz tofu hot dogs, yeah sure , it looks like a hot dog, but it's like trying to eat a bungee cord and kinda tastes the same.

When I go to Viva Las Vegas, there are always several CD vendors with some of the rockinest music around. I make it a point to buy as many as I can ( before I gamble all my cash away).
There is nothing like the thrill of meeting a band right after their show and buying a CD directly from them; they may even sign it as an added bonus.

As a music lover, I like having a tangible means of listening to music, an artifact to hold in my hands. The ephemeral nature of bit-torrent acquired, low resolution music just doesn't do it for me.

As I wait for my amp to be repaired, I am listening to my new CD's through aforementioned el-crappo speakers. I'm definitely gonna need some beers.

On a serious note, there are still many of hard working independent musicians making music and recording CD's. I urge you to seek them out. CDBaby and Spindrift Records are two websites that you need to check out.

Turn it loud and gimme a beer!

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