Wednesday, October 15, 2014

buying colbie caillet

Today, Colbie Caillet's new CD, "Gypsy Heart" made it's way into my CD player this morning, and it's excellent. Today as I was driving to my office, I thought of Colbie Caillat, and how she has a new album out. I had already made up my mind that I would purchase it, and figured I would just download it...

...but I just didn't want to do that. I am okay with downloading songs, and I'm okay with borrowing a CD from someone, "ripping" or burning it to my laptop for my iPod... but if I buy a CD, I want it in my hands. I want to open the plastic with some sort of sharp tool, or stretch the plastic until it comes off. 

I want to open up the CD and pull the disc out, look at the cover art on the disc, then look at the liner notes. Are the words to the songs in the notes? (not for "Gypsy Heart") I will scan the songwriting details and see if any name pops out. (Caillet had a hand in writing all of them, and a few features Babyface Edmunds, one of my favorite R&B dudes from the 90s). Sometimes the whole packaging will have a new papery smell to it, so I take in that aroma. I scan the "thank yous", just to see if anything looks cool--and yes, sometimes I notice if they thank "Jesus", or just "God", or nothing at all.

There is just something about having the physical CD in my hand. That is, when I actually buy an entire album.  I can imagine this is how someone felt in the 70s and 80s, when buying a brand new record album, taking it home and putting on "Frampton Comes Alive!" or the latest Johnny Cash album onto the record player.

Here's her latest, called "Try"

I don’t buy much music… or should I say, I don’t buy a ton of CDs anymore. A few years back, The Lovely Steph Leann and I went through a CD purge, selling several hundred CDs, donating the ones that wouldn’t sell, and getting rid of lots of cases to put the rest in an album.

There were some that I did keep in the case, though… and we still have over a hundred CDs in towers, and probably 300 or more in a huge CD wallet. One that we never even look in anymore. And we never look in there anymore because all of those songs are my iPod. Yes, I have a 160gb Apple iPod, and it currently contains , according to the “about” screen on the iPod, 16237 songs, 174 videos and 140 various episodes of various podcasts.

And the songs are all over the map… for instance, I’ll go to songs and hit shuffle, then it the next button ten times… this is what just came up…
  • Something Good This Way Comes by Jakob Dylan
  • I Want It All by Ashley Tisdale, from the High School Musical 3 Soundtrack
  • It’s All Coming Back to Me Now, by Celine Dion
  • How Long by The Benjamin Gate.
  • Every Step of the Way by The Monkees
  • I Have a Dream from the Mamma Mia! Broadway Soundtrack
  • Velcro Fly by ZZ Top
  • Letter Home by The Forester Sisters
  • Burning of the Midnight Lamp by Jimi Hendrix
  • Pomp & Circumstances, March 1, 2 and 3 as performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, for Fantasia 2000
It’s a bit ridiculous, really… aside from the Celine Dion song, and maybe The Forester Sisters, I don’t know that I’ve ever actually listened to any of those songs on my iPod. Well, I’ve probably heard part of the Mamma Mia! song, but probably as I was skipping past it to get to the other songs I like better.

I remember my first CD ever… well, there were two. “The Hit Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber” as performed by the various Broadway cast members in their respective songs… and the “Pulp Fiction” soundtrack. My first box set ever was “Listen to the Band”, a retrospective collection of The Monkees. Incidentally, that was also my first purchase with my brand new Discover card. It was historic, in that it was a historically bad decision, but that’s another story for another day…

CDs have always been something of a special thing for me. I mean, vinyl records are as well, but perhaps that is more so now because they are more rare and collectable… I’m not sure how collectible Debbie Gibson’s “Electric Youth” on vinyl is, but I have it, so there’s that.

Cassettes were a little different, seemingly a little more expendable, as they seemed to have a life on them. I’ve had tapes break or get worn out before, and had to replace them, and you could copy those, taking away some of the mystique, some of the air of “you can only get this at the store” elitism of it. When I was in junior high school, I would borrow friends cassettes, record them onto a Memorex or, as my tape of choice, Sony blank cassette. Then I would walk the block to the library, pay 25 cents and make a photocopy of the tape’s liner notes. Then I would very carefully cut the black and white paper out, very carefully fold it, and then insert it into the cassette case. Though the cover wasn’t color, it was nearly as good in my mind.

I did this with Europe’s “Final Countdown” album, borrowing it from my friend Daniel Stephenson in 7th grade. A year later, he offered to sell it to me for five dollars, which I took him up on it, paying him $1 per day for a week. The cover was slightly bent, but when I asked him about it, Daniel, already a big, stocky dude, replied, “Don’t say anything about that… that happened when you did that copier thing to it.”

Looking back… well, that’s kinda ridiculous, ain’t it?

In the late 80s to the mid-90s, I also dove into the Cassette Single, or “Cassingle”, trade, collecting 204 over the course of those years. My first was Guns N Roses “Paradise City” in 1988, bought during a trip to Wiregrass Commons mall after a math tournament trip (this was a team that I didn’t make in high school)… and my last was “Crush” by Jennifer Paige in 1998, bought for $1 at some forgotten music store—Sam Goody, Coconuts, On Cue, who knows.

The Enterprise, Alabama, WalMart Supercenter was one of the first one of it’s kind in the country when it opened in the late 80s, and in front of it, in a little strip building that houses four or five small stores, was Starship Records & Tapes. My friend Greg and I would go there frequently and pick up whatever just came out… he turned me onto the Stone Temple Pilots, so I got “Core”, their first album, on cassette there, along with whatever other Cassette Single came out that I wanted. Starship was a great place… and has long since closed.

The joy of removing the plastic.. and Colbie
does the paper case, which eliminates that
annoying label that goes across the top
that makes you break your fingernails to
peel off sometimes. This is a great album
CDs used to cost anywhere from 15 to 20 bucks per, and they would come in this long box that was a musical version of potato chips. The CD was in a case the size that you see today, but it would have another six to 10 inches of packaging to it, mostly empty air. At the Walmart in Geneva, the first CD I ever picked up and held was Paula Abdul’s “Forever Your Girl” in 1990… they had about 25 different CDs behind a Plexiglas wall, with holes where you could stick your arms in and pick up the CDs for a look—but the holes weren’t big enough to fit the CDs back through, so you had to get an attendant to open up the case, and they would ring you up right there.

A few years later, they got rid of the big “long boxes” as they were called, and went to plastic casing that had to be “unlocked” by the cashier. It would encase the CD, then have another square of plastic under it, probably for presentation purposes. Contrast that with today, where you go to WalMart and see an enormous cardboard bin with 100s of CDs in it, just piled up every which way and again, with a big “ONLY $5” sign on the side.

The CD was truly my high school and college generation. Sure, I had tapes as a younger dude, but when I drove, all I wanted was a car with a CD player in it. My first several cars didn’t have that, so I had to use a cassette adapter to plug into a CD Walkman that I had on my passenger side seat—usually sitting on something soft like a t-shirt or a towel, to help cushion it from skipping too badly.

I didn’t get a CD player in my car until 2008… and ironically enough, I would love to have a tape player in my car now. I gave away all of my 100s of regular cassettes, but am stubbornly holding onto my 200+ cassette singles, even though I have absolutely no way to play them anywhere.

Don’t get me wrong… I love my iPod. Its probably one of the top five most important, most influential purchase I’ve ever made, it revolutionized the way I listen to music from the first day I bought it and loaded it up, and with the advent of podcasts and audiobooks in the last few years, it’s completely changed my entire mentality on music and what I listen to…

Ten years ago… even five years ago, really, before I got an iPhone, I had to wait until I could purchase a song or an album I wanted… but now? If I like a song, I download it immediately. Last night, I heard Taylor Swift’s new song, “Out of the Woods” had been released. So at 11pm last night, while I was waiting for something to download on my iPod, I looked on my iPhone and bought it for $1.29. And then I saw Pitbull’s “Fireball” video, so I grabbed that too. And then Taylor Swift’s video, “Mine” was on sale for 99 cents… so I spent $4.50 on music just because I wanted it.

A few weeks ago, I had a song running through my head that went something like, “LA international airport… where the big jet engines roar…” A silly song, for sure, but it was in my head… so I went to iTunes, looked it up, found it was a 70s country song by Susan Raye. Spent 99 cents and downloaded it. Listened to it twice, satisfied my nostalgia, and now its among the 16K on the iPod.

But sometimes I feel like... we've lost an era. We truly have.

And now, I'm going to listen to "Turn Your Love Around" by George Benson and "Bang Bang" by Jessie J featuring Ariana Grande, both of which I randomly downloaded today. 


  1. So true!! I am right there with you! I miss opening up the liner and reading the thank yous and the lyrics and just the feel of it. But I am also with you on the iPod being one of the best things because all my music is right at my fingertips. I wanted to listen to some music last night as I went to sleep, and so badly I wanted to put the record on the turntable, but alas, I wanted to fall asleep listening to it, so I turned on the iPod instead.

    1. When I'm alone at the house overnight, I'll put my ipod on my little speaker, and i have a playlist called "Sleepytime"... helps me sleep. I used to this in college, except it was mix tapes or just putting it on a soft rock station

    2. So my first tape was Duran Duran "Seven and the Ragged Tiger" I don't even know what that means but it was awesome! Bad thing, when I moved back from England in 1997, my entire music collection was stolen by the movers. I was reimbursed but not really. Awesome thing, one of my hair students was in the band Falling in Reverse. After he graduated, he recorded another album and I got a shout out in the liner notes. How cool is that! I also got a bunch of really weird twitter followers...

  2. Oh, the memories! I used to cut the long boxes, and tape the covers to my wall. I was so pissed when they got rid of them! And I still have a CD cabinet filled with 100s of CDs that I never ever listen to, but can't bear the idea if getting rid of. Can't remember the last time I bought a CD...but somehow I miss that rush of getting a new one and reading the liner notes.


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