Monday, August 29, 2011

Are Compact Discs Disappearing? What Do I Do?

Just about six weeks ago I had the thought "I certainly won't be buying many more music CDs." I was beginning to believe the omens of the compact disc's demise.

  • Many new cars no longer come with CD players.
  • I had trouble finding a decent portable CD player to purchase recently.
  • Many of the stores selling CDs have closed.
  • Big box stores still selling CDs have poor collections.
  • Internet downloads are said to be taking over.

While I have had iTunes on my computers for about five years, I have still never purchased anything from the iTunes store. It seems like such a bad precedent to set. Instead, I have loaded many of my CDs into iTunes and from there put some of these onto my iPod. As nice as it is, I have never really listened to this music much except during the short, intense spring gardening season or on a trip. I seem to use the iPod more for listening to free podcasts that I download and audiobooks that I borrow from libraries. I still like my CDs in the car or in my portable player. It just seems the right package to me.

Still, I heard the death bells ringing and thought "I have plenty already. I really never need another CD. I can rotate what I have as long as I am still able to get a player." Enough is enough.

Of course, this is not an absolute pledge. I host the Friday at the Ford concerts at my library. We have a great variety of very talented musicians come, and they almost all bring CDs to sell. I have built a nice collection of CDs of musicians that I have not only heard live but have met and like as people. I know that I will continue to get several every year as long as musicians hand sell their CDs.

So I spoke with one of our library's shelvers the other day. When did he last buy a CD. At sixteen years of age, he has never purchased a CD. I hear a deep resonant dong.

So, what have I done since I had my thought?

In mid-July, I attended a free Sunday afternoon concert at Cantigny Gardens in Warrenville with friends. (There was a fee to enter the park.) The attraction was Guitarra Azul, a contemporary flamenco-inspired band with two guitars, a bass, and three percussionists. Their original music was really exciting, and I bought two CDs, Mariposa and Oasis. They sound really great in the car. They'd make a great soundtrack to a road trip.

Early in August, Bonnie and I went with friends to the Bristol Renaissance Fair in Bristol, Wisconsin. I was rather disappointed by the lack of live music. There used to be constant music from various minstrels and consorts on several stages all day.
Now, there are mostly comedy acts. As we headed toward the exit, however, we discovered a shop with Renaissance and Medieval games, DVDs, and music CDs. There was a vast selection of CDs featuring different countries, instruments, and forms of music. I could have spent the whole afternoon looking through them. As it was, I bought two: English Madrigals and Songs from Henry VIII to the 20th Century by the Oxford Camerata and Elizabethan Songs and Consort Music by the Rose Consort of Viols with Catherine King, mezzo-soprano. Both please me much.

Then, a week later, I discovered that our local music resale shop was going out of business and everything was 60 percent off. That made already well-priced CDs even less expensive. I restrained myself and only bought five titles:

Classic Masters by Gordon Lightfoot - really early songs three of which were new to me.
Greatest Hits: Shining Like a National Guitar by Paul Simon - a 2000 title that draws from about 25 years of his career.
In the Wind by Peter Paul & Mary - the photo on the back has them singing in front of the Washington Monument at a civil rights march. All the songs are classic PP&M.
Reasons Why by Nickel Creek - my daughter introduced me to this group.
Songs & More Songs by Tom Lehrer - Everyone should hear these outrageously clever political songs from the 1960s.

So, the CD may be endangered in some habitats but it is thriving at our house. Perhaps I will declare the property as a CD preserve. Maybe I can take in a few more CDs. I know some titles I'd still like to have.

I wonder what my next crazy thought will be?


Citizen Reader said...

I am reading a great book by Susan Hill, titled "Howard's End is on the Landing," about reading the books she already owns. At one point she says she doesn't have an e-reader and probably won't get one, because "the book isn't broken" around her house, so she doesn't need to fix it. Ha!
I'm somewhere between you and the 17-year-old, mentally and generationally (although much closer to you, chronologically!), but the CD certainly isn't broken around my house. The thought of figuring out another gadget and buying songs individually makes me want to cry--too much work. I'll buy CDs until they're absolutely gone and then I'll just listen to what I have as long as I can.

ricklibrarian said...

CR, I've toyed with the idea of buying a few songs individually, but they would then reside in my electronic files which seem unsubstantial up against my CD racks. Maybe I'll have to burn CDs of the random songs to give them more bulk. And maybe I will leave you some CDs in my will.

Robert said...

I remember my Grandmother playing 78 rpm records and I actually was given a few of them. Then, I noticed I could no longer buy a phonograph capable of playing 78 - only 45 and 33 rpm. Finally, my last turn-table could only run 33 rpm. About that same time, vinyl recordings were very hard to buy since everything was cassette (and, in my case, a lot of 8-track). Fast forward and I found I could not buy 8-track and cassettes were hard to find. Everything was going to this new fangled Compact disc thingy. I was a good little boy and bought CDs to replace all of my 78, 45 and 33 rpm vinyls, and my 8-track, and my cassettes. I don't know if I'll be able to maintain the trend and buy all sorts of digital downloads now. Maybe I'll skip this trend and start with the next one - music, of my choice, beamed directly into my brain and that will give me the option of having a video of the song instead.

ricklibrarian said...

Many songs are residing in my brain already, and they often sound better than in original format.