Burying the Treasure

A friend once told me a story about a jazz musician he knew who had so many LPs in his basement that he had to come up with an elaborate system for listening to each on a regular, if infrequent, basis. He had them alphabetized by year, listened to one a day, and kept metadata on his listening. It seemed absurd at the time, but now I have the same problem. Actually, I think probably have it worse. He, at least, was constrained by the tolerance of his wife and the dimensions of his basement. All my music fits on a thin drive that sits on an 9 X 2 in foot print on my desk. And that drive is only a third full.

The more music I have-- and I'm up to about 90 GB-- the more I feel this nagging anxiety about not listening to any of it with a depth of experience. When I was a teenager, I walked about 45 minutes a day, back and forth from the T. I was occasionally annoyed with my inability to carry more than a few tapes with me. In four years, I probably listened to a total of twenty different tapes, albums and mixes both. Somedays, when my batteries were low, Black Francis fell down a few registers to a tenor and Minor Threat became a midtempo grind. But otherwise, I was tracing the same handful of grooves everyday. It was a ritual, a privacy, and something like meditation.

Now I am overburdened by choice. The choice becomes the experience in a way I don't much enjoy. It seems, in fact, like a problem representative of the times: digital technology and late stage capitalism together make for some absurd conundrums and anxieties. Give a man 15000 options and even after he's decided, the thought of the other 14999 can linger--sometimes unpleasantly so.

And so I am hereby indefinite moratorium on new music. I simply have too much music to rediscover.

So if you guys don't mind, I'm going to use this forum as a vehicle for slowing down and appreciating my music. Here's what I've slowed down to appreciate today:

Talk Revolution, by Peter Tosh

God, this is one of my favorites, and I practically forgot it exists. A living room session with Peter Tosh, an acoustic guitar in need of a new truss rod, and a bunch of his songs in new, gloriously bare arrangement. He even stops in the middle to tell the story of how he was beat by a bunch of corrupt cops. At another point you can hear a woman practically swoon from the intimacy of the performance. I'm a Tosh fan more generally, but this album is my favorite because it's exactly opposite to his production-heavy studio work. Wonderful stuff.

In Name and Blood, The Murder City Devils

A lot of the music I loved in college-- loud, fast, obnoxious-- hasn't aged too well. That's probably the way it should be. I'm not as loud, fast or obnoxious as I used to be, so neither are my tastes.

I would have thought to lump MCD in with the rest of it, but I found this album in an old book of cds and thought I'd give it another try. Turns out that for all its bellow and gloom, this album still speaks to me. It's a showy sort of doom; theatrical and howling, all about sailors, Atlantis, and public hangings. But it's a little too waterlogged and garagey to be truly campy- ironically, perhaps, its the farfisa that grounds things.

There's more- late Dylan, early AC/DC, Smog, Modern English, Loudon Wainwright... but I have homework to do. Maybe some other day.

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