time to change the way we view music and the arts

30 Years of CDs – Many More to Come?

If I actually took the second half of my own post headline seriously, the majority of industry folk might laugh in my face. That’s understandable to a point I suppose. CD sales might still make up a good chunk of profits in the US, (which isn’t necessarily a saving grace of a statement when you think about the fact that pirating music means no one makes money, regardless of the format the music is in -streamed, itunes or otherwise,) but that doesn’t mean most people jump up and down at the thought of going to a physical music store, to buy a physical plastic disc.

Yes, vinyl is making somewhat of a comeback in purchase and in matters of everyday discussion. Yes teens and even young 20-somethings that weren’t alive when vinyl had its heyday are flocking on about it with fervor and interest that defies chronology at face value. Yet, for the format that lies inconveniently between convenience and nostalgia, the CD is a format not slick enough to be modern anymore but not gimmicky enough to be vintage and sought after to up one’s own ‘cool factor.’
You could say I’m feeling somewhat of an opinion and commentary based vibe today, a la “The New Yorker,”
So news outlets across the internet have already re-informed (or perhaps first informed) the masses of the bare facts about the creation of the CD, the day, year and various mentions of Billy Joel’s name. This isn’t what I’m here for today. No sense in rehashing the same Jeopardy-level factoids. We’ve established that the CD has hit a milestone but is anyone really moving past historical acknowledgment to actual celebrating? Heck, I love CDs and I don’t even feel right screaming out a “Woo hoo!” because when letting the reality of the situation sink in, it becomes obvious that just because more time in the life of the CD has gone by, that doesn’t mean the medium itself is growing, evolving in style or being brought to a new level of appreciation -all things that usually align well with ‘birthdays,’ if you will.
To age, and only age, that is about as monotonous as simple acknowledgement, so perhaps the condition and the attitude about the situation feed into one another. Not to mention, if you’ve been a follower of this blog for more than a day, I’ve made it abundantly clear how much I support the CD and the reasons why tangible objects are good for history and business, so no need to preach on that either.
Instead, I’m curbing these inclinations in favor of what I think is the best way possible to stand between simple acknowledgement and realistic celebration. It’s been a while since a list has graced the site, so why not just use some space for personal reflection and we can all leave the internal happiness at that. No fanatic lectures, no weeping over change.
After the jump are a few of the CDs that have earned special bench marks in my life. If you feel so inclined, please do share what yours are in the comments section. Nothing better than swapping stories!
(“Spirit” Album Art – Cit. Allmusic.com)
“Spirit” was the first CD I ever owned. (You knew I was going to start with this; some clichés cannot be avoided.) My older brother gave it to me as a present and I remember being so fascinated with both Jewel’s unique voice and the grounded but poetic nature of her lyrics. Sometimes it shocks me that this was my first CD and not some of the more tween and straight pop based variety, given that this was the 90s -the era of boy bands and catchy hooks and dance routines.
2. The Offspring – Ixnay on the Hombre (1997)
(“Ixnay on the Hombre” Album Art – Cit. Allmusic.com)
A friend of mine introduced me to the Offspring early on in high school. “Ixnay” was the first album of theirs I owned, (which I know some Offspring fans might find disgraceful) and its slot in my mental files sits (now quietly) under, “That CD that is supposed to express angst and an enthusiasm for anti-authority.” Truthfully, and this might reveal just how much of an inherent music nerd I was growing up, I was more into picking apart the Offspring’s oddball genre stylings, than I was into screaming out how “cool [it was] to hate” people and why everyone should just “leave me alone” because I’m a teenager and that’s “The meaning of [adolescent] life.”
3. Joshua Bell – Romance of the Violin (2003)
(“Romance of the Violin” Album Art – Cit. Allmusic.com)
For many years, Bell was my absolute idol. Itzhak Perlman is a master player whom I praised as well, but Joshua Bell is a master and a celebrity. Well, at least more so than Perlman at the time -this was my mentality. Of course, today this idea is needs a complete overhaul, but, then again, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think Bell was also young and gorgeous at the time. Starstruck mindset aside, I wanted to be just as good as Bell and this album in particular crossed so many different types of repertoire, it made me want to venture into pieces beyond the expected for aspiring violin students. The transpositions fascinated me and I thought Bell’s execution exuberant.
4. Eminem – Recovery (2010)
(“Recovery” Album Art – Cit. Allmusic.com)
For years, after Eminem hit mainstream notice and popularity, I developed a parallel amount of disdain for anything he pumped out to store shelves and radio play rotations. To me, he had nothing good to say and it wasn’t worth my time to down-talk him, because as anyone in marketing and PR knows, “bad chatter is still chatter.” A decade later and Mathers’ expressions finally sit well with me. Not wallowing in a pit full of drug-run drivel, “Recovery” actually allowed a sense of real emotional sincerity and clarity to come through alongside his strong rapping and it commits to material worth contemplating. “Recovery” hammered in the point that it’s always important to give something a chance despite precedent because a single shift in an artist’s inspiration from one album to the next can make all the difference.
5. Amalgama – When the Dust Settles (2008)
(“When the Dust Settles” Album Art – Cit. Allmusic.com)
Very uncomplicated, “When the Dust Settles” is an album I can say I purchased in support of an independent band, wherein I knew every person in said band. Amalgama thrived well in their area of origin, the capital region of New York. For a few months I tried my hand at the whole idea of being a band groupie with a couple of college friends who also knew the guys. We didn’t drive around in a van cross country mind you, (I had graduated and moved away from the area by the time the band started doing that,) but I was going to plenty of shows, staying up plenty late and filling my free time in a way that not everyone gets the chance to. I followed the process of the band making this album from the ground up and it will always remind me of what it’s like to be so close to an active group.


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