Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hodgepodge 54/365 - CDs

When it comes to music, I can be a tad impulsive. A friend on FB whom I don't even know in person commented recently that Drive-By Truckers' album American Band (their 11th) was his hands-down favorite of 2016, and I immediately hunted it down. I did stop to sort of listen to one track online, thought it sounded good, and wham: order placed.

So today the CD came in the mail.

Yes: CD. I know many people have gotten rid of their CD (never mind vinyl) collections in favor of MP3 files and streaming. But me, I like CDs. I like albums. I like the cover art, the liner notes, the object that you get to handle. But even more than that, I like the concept of "an album," which the band put together in a certain way. And in my experience with streaming, it's way too easy, or common, or something, for everything to get put on one massive "shuffle." So long, album! Hello mishmash.

The beautiful shelving
courtesy of David
Over the years, of course, we've amassed a rather huge collection of CDs, in part because of my rashness. We have a lot of great music—yet it's probably only about 1 percent of all the great music that's out there. We favor rock, blues, jazz, classical, folk, world. No country (well, Roseanne Cash and Emmy Lou Harris, are they country?), no hip-hop, no funk, no reggae, no ska. 

I've gotten out of the music-listening, and -buying, habit, though. While American Band may not be the only album I purchased this year, I guarantee the number was hand-countable—and by that I mean on the fingers of just one hand. It's partly, maybe even largely, because I'm no longer aware of new music. I don't have friends who follow and recommend bands or albums, at least not to me; I don't listen to radio that plays new tunes. I miss that. (I suppose I could put out a hive-mind request for recommendations on FB. Wait: that's not a bad idea!)

I put the new CD on when I started to write, and yeah: I like the sound. And I know that I need to sit with it awhile and really listen, to the words in particular. Rolling Stone describes the album thus: "American Band is a Southern liberal's attempt to puzzle through the emulsified white working class alienation and resentment that's been endlessly cited as a force driving the rise of Donald Trump. The Confederate flag, Iraq, the NRA, immigration hysteria and other hot buttons are pushed, but [co-leader Patterson] Hood and fellow songwriter Mike Cooley rarely go in for sloganeering. Instead, they use empathy, vivid storytelling and subtle imagery to unpack brutal complexities. . . . It's political rock that never confuses passionate commitment with smug certainty, asking more questions than it answers on a hero's journey into our darkest national impulses, and maybe in some small way, beyond them."

Here's the "official live clip" of "What It Means."

And as I think about all those CDs, I'm adding another bullet point to my 2017 "resolutions" (which I don't do, but for want of a better word—"intentions," perhaps): sort through our CDs, get rid of some/many, and organize the rest. Also, revisit the vinyl. (Yes, we still have a turntable.) And . . . perhaps consider joining the 21st century and start using Spotify. Just maybe.

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