Compact discs never had the romance of vinyl or the convenience of MP3s. But they’re still the ideal format for getting lost inside your music collection.
I still have a CD player in my car so I hung onto my favorite 20-30 albums, and I somewhat regret getting rid of my collection. It wasn’t ever as big as my parent’s, but I had ~50-70 jazz CDs (donated to the local HS music department so hopefully someone’s still using them) plus probably a hundred albums. Some indie shit I probably couldn’t replace if I wanted (I like to think I’ve become slightly more thoughtful about what I give away in my wiser 30s 😂).
But to be fair, my listening has shifted a lot since college, so the music I listen to most I don’t have on CD, and I got rid of a bunch of albums that I had kinda outgrown, so maybe it’s not a bad thing. I’ve only bought one or two CDs a year for the past decade, indie bands I wanted to give some extra support (and listen in the car).
There’s something about having a tangible object that makes it easier to flip through your collection and pull out things you haven’t listened to in a while. Growing up I was obsessed with learning to recognize every song that came on, so I was constantly comparing against the back of the CD. I liked looking through the liner art, and had a great visual memory for what the cover of every album was. Now it’s hard for me to remember what artist performed what song – I think that physical object of the jewel case was an anchor point for my memory. I also listen to playlists primarily these days, and know only a single song (or handful) by any given artist.
(Related? Structures of Thought)
I think there’s a place for both CDs and playlists in a musical library – I’ve benefitted from both styles of listening. But I do miss my five disc changer from my youth… hooked up to massive speakers nearly 3′ tall in my living room so they could punch some damn volume 😂 (No idea if they were any good or not 🤷♀️)
I also think it’s worth remembering we got rid of our CDs for a reason… they do take up a lot of space and jewel cases are shit… but now we’ve spent time without them we can recognize what we’ve lost along with them.
I keep thinking about looking up a used CD player, maybe I’ll actually get around to it once day 🤷♀️😂 I’m curious how much I would listen to CDs if we upgraded the music system in our car and Bluetooth wasn’t an enormous pain – would I revert to mostly Spotify playlists on my phone? 🤔