Monday, February 09, 2009


One of the (very)few advantages in growing older is in the purchasing of recorded music. The hot trends may come and go but, after 30 or 40 iterations of the pop music cycle, I can pretty much pick and choose music from all eras with a fair idea of its compatibility to my personal tastes. Another advantage is that I've got the equipment to reproduce the various formats, and to transfer them to digital if the need arises.

I never could warm up to iTunes™ and its MP3 brethren, however. It always seemed to me to be something of a scam, insofar as the time and effort to load one and develop play-lists was not my way of dealing with a music library. I like my music to be there- on a shelf- with liners notes, artwork and sequencing complete. Random playback, while a novelty at first, distracts me and takes away from the "movement" approach to listening. A 20 to 60 minute "concert" of thematically related material fits my attention span. To "program" my own demands more of my time than I'd care to spend on such ephemera.

And of course, there is the cost. I still buy new CD's on occasion, but there are many used options which are far cheaper than buying retail. Last week I found seven albums at the thrift store, new or nearly new, 6 CD's and a vinyl two-LP set. All of it was stuff I knew I'd enjoy (and I did) Count Basie, Leonard Cohen, Billy Bragg & Wilco, Ralph Stanley (his latest release!), Bing Crosby, Lovin' Spoonful and Joni Mitchell. Where this stuff comes from I don't know. With the exception the Joni, all of the titles were less than three years old or are definitive collections. 115 tracks for $11.20. They would be (if they had them all) $94 on iTunes™. This was a good deal, even by thrift store standards, but not unheard of.

Nothing lasts forever. I can't take them with me. I do thin out my music collection from time to time, some of the CD's are still worth a little money at the used store. MP3's are worthless.

Life is good.

By Professor Batty


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My collection is still mostly vinyl and I agree with you on the flow that an album has. Random cuts would be a time consuming management issue and the older I get, the more precious time gets to be. Maybe I am as much a relic as the music I like.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you comment on digital vs. analog, CD vs. album? Steven Van Zant has a particulary strong opionion against digital.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

There are some psycho-acoustic differences between digital and analog recording, particularly in low-level information (quiet sounds.) The CD standard of 44.1 Hz at 16 bits is very limiting in this respect. DVD audio and 96 Hz at 24 bits (protools) is pretty good. Analog has some noise problems, but is easier to listen to in the long run. Neil Young called listening to CDs like standing in a waterfall of ice cubes.

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