My Digitalized Tunes

I’m still importing my music CDs into my iTunes. I am now up to 1358 songs, and currently importing the Beatles White Album.

Handling CDs over an extended period, I’ve noticed how the CD packaging and CDs, themselves, have changed over time. Some of my older CDs, such as White Album, have thick, heavy plastic cases; the newer ones are thin, light, or even made of paper. The older CDs are thicker, and seem more durable; the newer are so thin they seem to be made of dragonfly wings.

I can’t remember buying my first CD player, or my first CD. According to this page at Philips, the first CD pressings for commercial sale happened in August of 1982. By the following January, half a million CDs had been sold.

1982. That was one year later than when DOS was invented, and one year before the release of Apple’s Lisa personal computer. That was 23, almost 24 years ago–older than some of you reading this. This means that many of you have never played a record in a record player; or tapes that used to get hung up in the cassette players, and turn into the same curly mess as our afros.

My ex-husband and I had a CD player our second Christmas together, I remember that. Or was it a cassette player? It was one or the other, I remember that. What I can’t remember is the year we got married. For the life of me, I can’t remember when we got married. Was in 1983? I can remember the stereo (it could play albums, still, so it must have been a cassette player); the place we lived (an apartment, with an artificial stream that attracted ducks in the winter); the city (Phoenix); even what I wore Christmas day (a light pink satin nighty with a darker rose satin robe with delicate lace down the front).

We had adopted a pregnant cat who had given birth to three kittens about 2 months before. I can remember them tearing at the Christmas tree and sleeping as a bundle on my lap. I had a perm, and my hair was a thick mass of curls.

I can remember the year we divorced: 2002, in Boston. (Actually it was in 2001: the year the dot-com I worked at closed, started my first weblog, took my one and only trip to London, and then moved to San Francisco because it seemed like a cool place to live.) We still lived together; something the judge commented on–perplexed at our friendliness after session after session of couples loathing one another. When we moved apart, I can remember splitting up the CD collection: his and hers. But I can’t remember the year we were married, or the first CD we bought. It’s in the pile I’m digitalizing right now. Somewhere.

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19 Responses to My Digitalized Tunes

  1. Elaine says:

    I didn’t have a CD player until college, or rather until Raul and I moved into the Hell House together (’93), and I could use his stereo.

    By then, I already had something of a collection gleaned from working for a summer helping an LA Times music reviewer organize his collection. (extras and such)

    I think the first CD I remember buying for myself was Zooropa by U2. I know I had the tape of Achtung Baby.

    But I don’t have that CD anymore, or rather, I have the same music, but not the same physical object. The Hell House was robbed 2 days before Christmas of 1993, while Ra and I were in LA, Myke was in Phoenix, and our 4th roommate (whose name escapes me!) was at work.

    They wiped us out, including most of the (immense!) CD collection…I remember what they left quite vividly: kd lang, David Bowie, one of the Depeche Mode albums.

    Then what was left got split when Raul & I broke up in March of 1996. (10 years, really?!) I think that was very much like your divorce; we stayed in the same apartment until our lease ran out in August, and we’ve stayed good friends since. (The last time C & I went to LA, we stayed at his place.)

    I did get one of the CDs back, or at least I swear it was mine…I was at Half Price Books, sometime in the late 90s, and I saw a reviewer’s copy (promotional copy, whatever) of an Aimee Mann CD. I swear, I can’t imagine there was another copy like that in Tacoma…so I bought it. :)

    Ah, memories.

  2. jcwinnie says:

    Funny thing, about music and memory, eh?

  3. I definitely remember the first CD I bought: It was Badmotorfinger by Soundgarden, in 1991. Back then, my family wasn’t well enough off to have our own CD player, although we had a great turntable, about 20 years old at that point, and hundreds of LPs my father acquired while working for a record distributor. My college roommate had just bought a really nice CD player, and the two of us bought a bunch of CDs to listen to on it.

    That memory has always stayed with me. I’ve bought hundreds of CDs since then, but very few of them are as clearly engrained in my memory as that first one.

    This means that many of you have never played a record in a record player

    I have spent more than my fair share of time in front of a record player, and still to this day remember using ours: How careful I had to be when handling the records, how to change the needle, and how to clean the records with what looked like a chalkboard eraser.

    Good times, good times.

  4. McD says:

    I’m giving serious consideration to selling my vinyl records on ebay… I just want to transfer many of them to CD before letting go.

    This was a lovely bit of writing. Many readers have this vague impression of you and this one filled in some small details. Watching you define yourself in words is one of the real pleasures of a great blog.

    Much better than getting your take on the meme of the moment (CES/Las Vegas Hotel costs?).

  5. ralph says:

    I remember when CDs first came out. I was working at the campus radio station at the time, and the hi-fi shop downtown that was carrying the only CD players in town (and the only CDs, for that matter) approached the station with an eye to underwriting an hour long show every week where we would play CDs on a CD player that they would bring up to the station (and which would return to the shop at the end of each show). I think the show aired for one semester. We never did have a CD player permanently installed in the studio before I left the station for the second time in 1985.

    I bought my first CD player on New Year’s Day, 1987. And my first CD was actually two CDs, Joe Jackson’s “Big World” and Big Dipper’s “Heavens (with Boo-Boo EP)”. I never listen to the Joe Jackson any more; I pull out the Big Dipper at least a few times a year. That was back when the record companies made a big deal out of whether the signal chain was all digital or not. Big World was DDD, a much sought after designation back then. I can’t remember for sure any more what the second and third Ds referred to (maybe mixed and mastered).

  6. Shelley says:

    I am now up to 1761 songs. I have CDs I’ve forgotten I’ve had, and hadn’t listened to for years.

    McD, CES?

  7. ralph says:

    Consumer Electronics Show — Doc Searls can’t get a hotel room for less than $400 a night, so the blogosphere is in a tizzy.

  8. Shelley says:

    Ralph, you’re kidding. I’ve been burning CDs all day and watching some old old movies so haven’t been out about about much.

    But that’s the big story of the day?

    Kind of sad.

    BTW, I just digitalized The Alan Parsons Project’s, I Robot. Anyone remember this one?

  9. dave rogers says:

    Tales of Mystery and Imagination, myself.

  10. Shelley says:

    I have that one, too, Dave. Just haven’t reached it yet in the piles of CDs. I think it is superior to I Robot, but I like the eclectic nature of I Robot better. It is odd to listen to it, though. I don’t think I’ve listened to this CD since I moved away from Seattle, close to 10 years ago.

    The thing is, I don’t remember feeling as creeped out by the I Robot songs then, as I do now. I should do well with Edgar Allan Poe as soon as I find this CD.

    Elaine, I have found my David Bowie CDs–for tomorrow’s loading, though, as if I run one more CD through, my player will die.

    Darren, I have to say that loading these on to a little box is much easier than running the eraser (I remember those, if not the year I was married), around the vinyl.

    I also forgot to ask earlier, McD: what albums do you have?

  11. Darryl says:

    Hmm, can’t remember exactly what the first CD I bought would be. My guess would be something like Guns’N'Roses.

    I was more of a tape guy. CD players in the car were quite expensive and harder to dub tunes off the radio….

  12. Charles says:

    You know, I spent a long while trying to think what was my first CD and I just could not remember. I do remember being a holdout, I refused to buy a CD player for a long long time, I thought it was a conspiracy by the music companies to raise the already inflated prices of a vinyl album (which was getting to be around $9) to even higher prices for CDs (which IIRC was around $20).
    But I do distinctly remember my first vinyl record. I remember when I was a little 8-year-old kid, I saved up 99 cents to buy the newly released 45 single of “Take the Last Train to Clarksville” by The Monkees. I suppose I should be embarassed about that, but I’m not.

  13. ralph says:

    Charles, it’s now considered cool to like The Monkees, and has been for several years. I apologized a few years ago to my best friend from college for needling her back in the day about her Monkees fandom. She was obviously cooler than me in retrospect, despite my seemingly obvious hipster credentials.

  14. Shelley says:

    Charles, I adored the Monkees. In fact, I’m tempted by Mike Nesmith’s “Best of Monkees” playlist at iTunes–except that it’s probably a gimmick. However, there is an original album in there that would fit nicely on my iPod…

    (Now I know why these things fill up so quickly)

  15. Phil says:

    I actually still buy vinyl (new as well as second-hand) – most new stuff I get on CD now, though (they’re so handy for the slot in the side of the iMac.) My first CD was the Pet Shop Boys’ Very (1993) – I bought a CD player at the same time (I wanted to get the album and the LP packaging was rather naff, so…). I got my second PC soon afterwards, mainly for the sake of running Windows 3.

    I can still remember when the really cool kids (e.g. my big sister) had reel-to-reel tape decks.

  16. Doug Alder says:

    Diane’s CD and tape player recently bit the dust and she has been musicless for awhile (a terible fate for a nusic teacher) – with the addition of my work computer over there she now has Internet radio and I’ve been ripping CDs madly, both hers and mine. Currently there are some 1700 tracks ripped and about 100 CDs to go :) (may have to get a bigger drive – LOL)

  17. Karl says:

    I think my first CD was Metallica’s “And Justice for All…”, back when Metallica mattered. I was a late adopter. I think it was around 1993 or so? When I was thrown out, I was able to keep two milk crates of cassettes safe and they followed me for a long time. I remember going thru four “Appetite for Destruction”s, I played that tape so damn much. I still have a good four milk crates worth of them.

    The funny thing is I remember my first batch of albums more than I remember the first few CDs. Maybe it’s because I played them again and again and again: Queen’s “News of the World”, Annie (the movie version of the musical with Carol Burnett), Kiss’s “Alive II”, and a Star Wars soundtrack.

    I think I have around 5000 songs on my HD now. Nuts. My PC is definately my jukebox.

    Like jcwinnie said – it is a funny thing about music and memory.

  18. Jerry says:

    When I quit smoking in the mid-80′s I decided the “treat” would be to buy one new music cassette per week. Considering I’d had a two pack a day habit I was still coming out money ahead…in more ways than one.

    I amassed a formidable tape collection by the time CDs started hitting the mainstream and it was tough to make the move. A home CD player was the first purchase, but another year or more would pass before I upgraded the vehicle. Until then I “ripped” the CDs to cassette and left the CD at home.

    I ripped all of the CDs into iTunes a few years ago and the physical disks are buried deep in closets now. Two weeks ago I cleaned out the closets and ran across the cassette collection. You know, there’s a number of ways to digitize, break apart, and re-tag them but I just couldn’t see it being worthwhile. Donated the lot to a local non-profit. (including a bunch of Alan Parsons! “:^)

    In 2003 I made a prediction that my CD buying days were done. For the most part that’s been true…maybe one physical CD since then, the rest purchased through ITMS.

    Having gone through 30+ years of music “ownership” I can’t really say that I’m worried about being able to keep my digital downloads any longer than the other media formats I’ve owned over the years (45′s and 8-tracks, oh my!). Nor do I expect my tastes to stay so static that it’s going to matter.

  19. Shelley says:

    I ended up digitalizing 2692 songs. More than enough.

    Odd thing, Karl and jcwinnie, I can remember reading something about music and memory, somewhere. Wish I could remember more.

    Jerry, we had the piles of albums, then casettes, and finally CDs. Hopefully with the introduction of the computer, format is no longer an issue. I have found, though, that my tastes have changed drastically. I didn’t even bother to digitalize many CDs.