A Meandering Screed in Which I Get to the Party a Little Late.

Harking back to January when I bought a digital-only album, I had a small epiphany in the days that followed.

Up until now I have made a point of buying a CD and then ripping it at 320kbps, without ever questioning the reality that my motives were based in.  Now I’ve finally recognized the absurdity of my assumptions.


The expensive hi-fi at home?  It sits gathering dust most of the time and has done for years. When my CD player finally gave up the ghost in 2008 after eighteen years of solid, fault-free service I failed entirely to replace it, using a combination of a cheap DVD player and an even cheaper portable CD player ever since.

To add insult to injury, when the hi-fi is in use, 10% of that time is spent listening to CDs, 0.5% to records, and the rest of the time it has an MP3 player plugged into it.


From the beginning I refused to believe it was either big or clever to abandon physical product and switch to digital-only consumption.  The idea of sitting in my house listening to a 96kbps MP3 through big speakers gave me a headache, yet here I am ten or eleven years later doing that very thing.

Have I trained my ears to not care?

To be honest I’m not sure.  I can hear the artifacts still, the wooly bass, the shimmering cymbals, but I think it’s the ubiquity of the personal music collection, through MP3 players, that has changed my consumption of music: lessened it.  Now I’m barely even hearing the old favourites, they serve their purpose simply by playing – what I’m hearing is a memory, effectively a quiet place for me to go inside my head.  Peace.

A worrying development, I assure you.

But this development is not alone, it has a tandem, a twin, a parallel.  After I realised that digital devices mean everything/everywhere/anytime (ahem, if you have charge…), and that hoarding non-rare tapes, vinyl and CDs is just pointless hoarding, I realised that my bookshelves are full of books (many very good, some, er, not so) that I will never open again.

Why keep them?

I’d downloaded the Kindle app and started reading a free book with that before the thoughts above struck me. And now I want an actual Kindle.

What’s a boy to do?

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I play bass, I cook, I look out the window. Sometimes I prefer wondering what's out there to going out and looking. But not all the time. I only recently learned that leaving two spaces after a full stop is obsolete.

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