There's not enough Geritol in the world to cure the anemia currently afflicting CD sales. Case in point: Last week, the soundtrack to Sex in the City entered the Billboard album sales charts in the second position even though it only sold a little over 66,000 copies -- a total that might not have landed it in the top twenty a few short years ago. For me, though, this consumer shift didn't truly hit home until yesterday, when my fifteen-year-old twin daughters, who are remodeling their bedrooms, decided to get rid of the several hundred discs they'd collected over the years as casually as if they'd decided to spit out a wad of gum that had lost its flavor. Previous generations of music lovers would have looked on such a collection with sentimentality, but to them, it was clutter, no different from old shoe boxes or unwanted gifts from aunts and uncles that they'd shoved in their closets unopened.
Perhaps they would have felt differently if the discs had been boxed and transported to Goodwill rather than refiled in my basement with my own CDs, which I still prize -- but I doubt it. Album covers and liner notes and all the other accoutrements that are part of my music-listening habits mean zip to them. In their view, songs are supposed to be downloaded onto an iPod, played for as long as they're enjoyable and then deleted to make room for something more interesting, not physically archived like museum exhibits. I couldn't help smiling as I looked at their three Aaron Carter long-players, which pictured him as, respectively, an adorable tot, an awkward-stager and a teen on the verge of adulthood. In contrast, they just wanted them gone -- and countless millions of music fans can identify.
CDs may not have disappeared entirely, but they no longer matter -- not really. The guy who told Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate that plastic was the future didn't know what the hell he was talking about. -- Michael Roberts
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