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Friday, March 14, 2014

Clinging to the Past


I have been getting rid of books lately. I'm trying to find new homes for all the ones sitting around on the floor, only keeping enough to fill the nine bookcases in the house. I'm doing this out of consideration for my son, whose job it will be to dispose of approximately two tons of books if anything happens to me (and let's be real, eventually something will happen to me.) Giving up heavy, space-hogging books is easier to do since the invention of the Kindle. I can take one small device containing all my books with me to the nursing home if, God forbid, that's where I end up.

Someday, I will need to face doing the same with albums. I still have every album I ever bought (first one: Elvis), even though I haven't played most of them for 40 years. Some may be collector's items as far as age is concerned, but certainly not if you consider condition. The covers are faded and stained; the records are scratchy from use. Sometimes when I'm close to them, I imagine I can smell the aroma of beer and weed wafting out from the shelves. That collection of albums is also a collection of wonderful memories. I pull out a furred-around-the-edges Janis Joplin and remember a handsome man I thought I was in love with. Santana reminds me of a party at the lake. I was the most excited about music during the album era - when I discovered Bob Dylan, when I heard Led Zeppelin for the first time, when the Beatles went from pop to drug-induced creativity.

My first husband was one of those who always had to have the latest thing so he bought an eight-track tape player for the car, the first one in our town. Everyone loved that big unwieldy thing. It didn't fit into a nice little slot but had to be mounted below the dash so that I had a bunged-up left knee the whole time we had it. My husband didn't know or care much about music, he was simply turned on by the technology. He bought two tapes to go with his new player - Aretha Franklin and Loretta Lynn, two more disparate styles you could not imagine!

He was also one of the first to make the switch to a cassette player. I don't have the eight-track tapes. I think I sold them at a garage sale but I do still have all the cassettes. They are mounted above the albums. I call this wall of my bedroom the Wall of Obsolescence.

Of course, cds replaced cassettes and yes, I have them too. So, I have now bought my favorite music in four different formats. I have personally made a large contribution to Bob Dylan's fortune.

I suppose the I-pod is to music what the Kindle is to books but I don't think I'll be finding out. I don't believe I have it in me to make yet another leap into the future. My son asked me if I wanted an I-pod for Christmas.

"Then what?" I asked, "I join I-tunes and re-buy, yet again, the same music I've already bought four times before? Nah, I think I'm content to stick with cds."

Which doesn't at all solve the problem of what to do with all the unplayed albums and cassettes. Maybe I'll just let my son worry about it.  

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