As an avid record collector, I had to listen to a podcast entitled In Praise of the CD. Praising the CD? Aren’t CDs obsolete? This had to be good.
The podcast was courtesy of The Next Track whose hosts, Doug Adams and Kirk McElhearn interviewed James Jackson Toth about his article on The Quietus entitled, Perfect Sound For a Little Longer: In Defense Of The CD.
I enjoyed listening to everyone on the podcast reminiscence about CDs and it brought back a few memories of my own.
As a child, I was obsessed with listening to music. My Mom recently reminded me of my portable cassette player, I believe it was a red Fisher Price model, that I would carry with me everywhere playing my favorite tapes.
When I was twelve years old my Mom bought me my first real stereo. She researched all of her options and decided on JVC separates which included a receiver, a dual cassette deck and a 5 disc CD changer. I loved that stereo.
To celebrate my new gift, my Mom took me to a local CD store to make my first purchase. I call it a CD store because that’s what it was, they sold CDs. It’s normal to call them record stores today but in the height of the CD popularity, certain stores existed only to buy and sell CDs. In this case, the store was actually called CD’s, Etc. and my recollection is they had a small cassette section that must have been what they classified as the Etc. in their name.
This would have been early 1991 and I was in a state of musical flux. Hair metal was about to be demolished by Nirvana’s grunge but the destruction wouldn’t happen until later that year. I mention this to better explain my CD purchase that day, Winger’s In The Heart of the Young.
Thinking back, I can’t recall what compelled me to buy this CD. I wasn’t exactly a huge Winger fan. I didn’t own their self-titled album with the awkward song Seventeen (with the uncomfortable lyric, “Daddy says she’s too young but she’s old enough for me”). All I can guess is that I was always a sucker for a power ballad and In The Heart of the Young contained Winger’s biggest hit, Miles Away.
Musical choice aside, what I remember most about that day was the experience of going through bins and bins of CDs, nervously trying to decide what to spend my money on. I didn’t have enough money to buy multiple CDs so this needed to be right. At least for that day I was proud of my decision and knew it wouldn’t be the last time I would be shopping for music. CDs, Etc. was a short bike ride from my house and I would go at least once a week to browse, eventually selling CDs back to the store in an effort to bring new music home.
All of these memories came rushing back while reading Toth’s article in 2018 defending the CD format, something I’ve considered recently as vinyl pricing continues to increase. It’s also worth noting I’m a complete sucker for a CD found in a thrift store, regardless of if I already own it. Chances are I’ll buy it and spend less than a dollar, a small investment to recall the experience of being back at home in high school with my JVC stereo.
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