The time has come, yet again, for me to move. All of my belongings must be stacked, stuffed and stowed as I find my way to another new home. I’ve already packed up my books. That was easy. After all, I hardly ever read any of them. They’re mostly for show.
Well, not really, but it’s not as if I frequently pull down that copy of Janson’s History of Art and remind myself why I’m supposed to like Mondrian. I just can’t bring myself to part with the gigantic tome, so I move it from home to home, put it on its shelf, and then a year – two years – ten years later, I take it down from the shelf, put it in a box, and the cycle continues.
With this in mind, I’m looking right now at my wall of CDs. It’s an absurd spectacle really. There are well over a thousand jewel cases lined up along one wall of my apartment on various makeshift shelving units. They look both dangerous and disorganized, but the truth is that the structure is very sound and the discs are actually alphabetized by artist. Yep, I’m that kind of music lover.
The key difference between my long-neglected books and this unwieldy collection of CDs is that the discs get far more attention. Months might go by before I pull out that Reno Divorce CD again, but I will. Every one of these discs – even the ones I don’t particularly like – gets its turn on the stereo, and every one has its value. And as I ponder moving them all – as well as all the case-less discs in drawers, the notebook of discs on my desk, the hundreds of records, and the thousands of digital music files stored on my computer and external hard drives – I have to wonder: when will I have enough?
Of course, the answer is “never.” I just got new CDs in the mail from Ellison Park and the Still City, and I can’t wait to take them for a spin. Ellison and the Still City are just two of hundreds of Denver acts I haven’t heard yet, and their new discs are just as important as any of the others on my wall. Once I’ve listened to and digested Ellison’s When Head Killed Heart, it will take its place on the wall, right between Papa M and Charlie Parker, and after a good listen to the Still City’s Light and the Machines, I’ll somehow squeeze it in between Stiffs Inc. and the Stills. And, in a couple weeks, they’ll all nestle together in a cardboard box as they’re transported to a new wall and a new home.
There are days when I wish the influx would stop and I could just get to know all my current musical friends and stop making new ones. In the years BMP3 (Before MP3), I once traveled by myself for 13 weeks, with only six 90-minute mix tapes to entertain me, and I grew to truly love those tapes. Not long after that trip, I participated in a pharmaceutical research study and had to be locked up in a facility for an extended period. I brought along those same mix tapes and was perfectly content with my narrow musical selection. I suppose that’s how normal people live all the time.
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But as soon as I’ve voiced that wish to be normal, I take it all back. If I froze my musical collection today, I’d miss out on tomorrow’s new stuff – perhaps d. biddle’s new album, or the debut from We Are! We Are! I don’t want to miss out on those.
Not that those records will change my life or anyone else’s. I’m too jaded – and saturated – to believe what Natalie Portman or anyone else says about that. Life won’t change. I’ll still have to pack. I’ll still have to move. I’ll still have to unpack and somehow find “home.” But I can’t shake the hunch that those new discs will somehow enrich, inform, unsettle or even change me – even if only for a few moments.
And those are the moments I live for. -- Eryc Eyl