A TIME BEFORE DIGITIZATION

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The first 15 or so times I moved, I lugged along a massive music collection – one that grew in size (and weight) every year. It was mostly vinyl and CDs, but I also had a relatively lofty multi-component stereo system. You see, I considered myself somewhat of a purist, an “audiophile”. Pretentious as I was, I concerned myself deeply with “optimal listening zones” and “soundstages”.

In point of fact, my entire set-up was the deepest connection I had with my childhood. Every album was a time machine in a sleeve. I noticed very early on, as a young boy, that music held my fascination much longer than toys did, and I begged accordingly. When I got a new album I would run it to my turntable, sprawl out on the floor with my face buried in the large gatefold sleeve, and vanish for the next 44 minutes and 18 seconds. The sensation when the needle finally lifted was much like exiting a dark movie theatre, and walking into the bright afternoon following a rather mind-bending matinee. That dreamy “where the fuck am I?” feeling.

It was a golden era of discovery for me, and I carried a tremendous amount of pride in my musical tastes. I was the only 9 year old I have ever known, then or since, that was a fan of Laurie Anderson and Philip Glass. And whether it was the music I listened to or the music I created, music was my expression. It was, for me, about trying to find the meaning of life.

Eventually everything I owned was music-related: guitars, amps, pedals, cables… vinyl, CDs, cassettes… books, VHS, DVD…

However, unsuitably, it dawned on me over time that even more than music I valued freedom. I hated being in the same place for longer than 3 years, and I craved intensely a sense of complete portability. For the sheer weight of everything I had, owning it all kept me inflexible, and made me feel trapped. As much as I loved music, I could no longer justify hauling all this stuff around every time I moved. I had to figure something out.

When MP3s came I along, I was beginning to feel a little betrayed by the music industry. Having re-bought much of my vinyl collection in digital compact disc format, I wasn’t going to go there. Not to mention, MP3s sounded like shit. The files contained a mere 1/20th of the original information and everything over 16Khz was permanently discarded for the sake of higher storage. To me, this was sacrilege. The purist in me was having none of it. I held onto my stereo and vast collection for another decade and 5 more moves.

Then one day I had a revelation: I discovered that music is a cosmology, an accurate representation of the goings-on of the entire universe. Everything around us is music, we just can’t hear it all. The highest frequencies outside our hearing range are the air and light, the lowest, physical matter. With this understanding I arrived somewhere deep. I also realized that I could part with most of these recorded documents and they would still exist. Did I need to hoard them? If I set out to listen to every song I owned, one by one, it would take the rest of my life.

Fortuitously, at this time, harmonics-regeneration technology was introduced and “lossless” files were created. Here was my cue: It was time now for The Big Shift. A massive purging, and enormous freedom, was just a digital media player download away…

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4 responses to “A TIME BEFORE DIGITIZATION

  1. I went to the library today looking for a “Where’s Waldo” book, couldn’t find one,
    well played Waldo, well played.

    • Hey Kent, thanks for the comment!

      Funny thing, I was in that self-same library that self-same day looking for you (while you were looking for said book about looking for a guy). Need it even be said? You were nowhere in sight.

      Worry not about your troubles, friend – It’s been recently announced that the entire “Where’s Waldo?” collection will be released for Kindle in time for Christmas.

  2. All hail the almighty FLAC. Shiny things are for presumptuous persons and the cats in the cradle with a silver spoon. Grounded by earth.

    • Thanks for your comment Deril, however cryptic. And yes, the FLAC (Freedom Lives After Compression) paved my way to unfettered mobility.

      You know, I’ve said it before that technology’s greatest gift to humans is freedom. But to what extent can this continue? Will we one day be able to roam vast stretches of the universe at the mere thought of it? In answer to that, I’ll leave you with something a good friend once said when his neighbour threatened to slash his car tires:

      “We’ll see if that happens.”

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