Saturday, February 14, 2004

Record Collectors Are Scared Of Their Own Mortality

Matt Woebot has been grappling with the futility of trying to hear everything ever:

My iTunes library stands at 66.84 GB, that's 24 days, 16 hours and 54 seconds of music which I'm still struggling to digest. I don't seem to have the time to listen to listen to it all despite music's wondrous layering factor. You can listen to it while doing anything..... You see it's imperative to *LISTEN*, not to simply stockpile.

that hits me every now and again. I was always broke when I was younger (probably a good thing, otherwise in my early teens I'd have owned WAY too many prog and metal albums.. and in my late teens, hey, at least Crass records cost no more than 99p.) so when i did my stint in the 'music biz' I hoarded everything, I was just in love with the sheer quantity ("Quantity has a quality all its own" - Stalin)

course, i had a lot of cash then too, so i was buying as much as I was blagging.. it became obscene, to be honest. Especially since in those days I seemed to think that a touch of coprophilia and a serial killer fixation was enough to make even the most mundane outfit from Wisconsin worth being a completist about.

These days, i pretty much just buy reggae and (ahem) 'yardcore' vinyl (and the odd 'hit' for each month's People's Republic Of Disco )and depend on slsk for the rest (as I've said before, search under Dubversion to see how uncool I really am... ). but even so, i've got sixty gig and counting of mp3s and about 20 CDs full of the buggers as well, waiting to be decanted on to a new hard drive.

it's ridiculous, isn't it? i don't seem to 'own' music in the way i used to. giving an album room in my head, learn to really live with it. to that slightly hysterical stage you reach as a young obsessive where discovering a new, fantastic record ("Penis Envy" by Crass, say, or Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak") meant reordering your DNA somehow, a whole reinvention thing... I'm rarely not listening to music - as Mr Woebot has pointed out, it's the most versatile thing - be it at home (where my PC has naturally taken precedence over all that unwieldy vinyl that i have to reach over for, and even FIND), at work when i get a chance, wherever.... but I can't keep up.

I always suspected as i got older my tastes would slowly settle and grow static, that I'd realise that Van Morrison was as good as it gets. Strangely - and it's a mixed blessing - this is the last thing that seems to be happening. Sure, my tolerance of all that shit in the middle - the sexless skinny whiteboy wail - has plummetted, and I'd rather listen to Beyonce than anyone in the fucking NME any more. but at the other end of the spectrum, the new delights just keep rolling in. And in that respect, the low-impact ease of music collecting through P2P is a blessing (and yes, i HAVE bought The Necks' Drive By after downloading it). I can read about stuff in The Wire, or through Boomkat , or through the blogosphere and actually check it out...

but it's also crippling. I'm never going to overtake it. I'm never going to be able to make that 'Best Records Ever... Ever' CD and know for sure I haven't missed something out.... I'll be lying on my deathbed (or on a wheeled bed in a corridor at St Thomas') doubled up in agony and my last words will probably be 'But... But... i never did get my head round the Sun City Girls'

a rather facile man I used to know (he writes the worst sitcom on TV, but no more clues.. ) visited me at home once and immediately suggested that I was terribly, terribly scared of death. I took umbrage at this rather glib bit of analysis, and asked for proof. he stood in my front room, waved his arm triumphally around at my tottering piles of CDs, my groaning shelves of vinyl, the stacks and stacks of unhelpfully compiled VHS tapes and grinned.

"because you're trying to reproduce yourself in plastic in the belief that this will save you somehow."


posted by dubversion at 11:38 am

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