Taking a step back…..to listen

I don’t drink, smoke, get high or gamble. Sounds like a boring life to some people. But everyone has a vice, everyone has that one thing that they absolutely have to do to maintain a happy life. My vice is collecting music.

I’ve been a Rock/Metal fan since I got my first KISS cassette when I was 5. A few years later, at about 9, I started collecting music. I started with cassettes, and a few vinyl, and moved on to CDs. Right now, my collection stands at around 2500 CDs. I’m not really even sure if that’s correct, it may be more. Everything I had on other formats, I’ve been able to replace with CDs. Collecting is the one thing I do but it becomes obsessive.

I probably spend around $40 a week on music. I used to blow $50-$75 (or more) before my wife and I had kids. I’m lucky to have a job that pays well so I can afford to buy CDs after the family, home, and bills are taken care of. I try to spend that money wisely, squeezing every penny to get as many CDs as possible. I still get a thrill when I buy a new album by one of my favorite bands, or when I uncover that elusive album in a bargain bin in the back of a hole-in-the-wall record store. I get the rush when I’m watching a CD on Ebay and I place my bid with 10 seconds to go…..sniping the CD from the high bidder who thought they were the lucky winner (yeah, I’m THAT guy!).

I unwrap each one, check for imperfections if it’s used, and list it on my cataloging software (Collectorz). I then re-order the growing pile of discs at my desk so the new albums don’t get lost in the shuffle. They end up getting lost anyway because I then prioritize the next ones I acquire and so on.

I do research. I look up bands online and make want lists. I try and complete full discographies so I can listen one right after the other and dive into a band. I like to hear the band progress, or regress, with each release. I like to hear the differences from the first album that debuted in the early ’80s to the latest offering. I do this with bands I missed back in the day, I do it now for newer bands. I read band histories/biographies, check out their websites and CD availability.

Ebay is always open so I can gauge the market. I belong to many collector’s groups, mailing lists, and message boards. I suck up as much information I can. I discuss, review, and analyze bands/albums.

After all this, what is the one thing I sometimes forget to do? I forget to listen to the music! Actually, I listen to music most of the day. Overnight at work, I get to listen to at least 6 hours of CDs from my collection. When I get home in the AM, I listen to some sportstalk radio and then I listen to CDs until my everyone comes home from either school or work.

So how do I forget to listen? I think it’s more a factor of paying closer attention to what’s playing. When I was a kid, I sat in front of the stereo glued to every word, every solo. There were no video games to distract me (the stereo and TV were in separate rooms), no Internet to surf, no work to do or car to drive. All I had to do was listen.

Wednesday is my birthday and I will turn 34. I already know that I am getting MANY gift cards to the independent CD chain in my area, Newbury Comics. I will probably come away with a few hundred dollars in gift cards to blow, which I usually do a few days later in one major shopping spree. This adds to my collection but also adds to the pile, and that adds to the ever increasing sense that I’m not listening close enough. I’m buying for quantity, for the sake of collecting. It’s a vicious cycle.

So I have resolved to stop and listen, to take more time with each band and album. Maybe cut down a little of the buying? Maybe I won’t buy that extra album when I already have 6 in my hand! I’ll give that CD one extra spin to decide whether it’s one I’ll return again or one I’ll file away and probably never play it again.

I started this past weekend: I gave the new Sammy Hagar, Riot, MSG and Metal Church more attentive listens. I’ve found some good in albums I thought were average or bad (Metal Church) and I’ve found more good in albums I thought were excellent from the first listen (MSG). I’ve decided that the new Sammy Hagar is a disappointment and the Riot I’m still going through.

Does anyone else go though all this? Or have those thousands of silver discs altered my reality?

7 comments on “Taking a step back…..to listen

  1. I first want to say that oftentimes I am also that guy on ebay as well. Although it’s not too often anymore that I really feel the need to have something off ebay. I have been ordering more than usual this summer. I switched jobs in February and don’t get to the record store as much because it is no longer on my way to work. On occasion I do stacks and don’t a chance to listen to everything at first. Sweet Cheater and Makbeth were bands that I recently overlooked at first and liked them more on the second listen. Jaded and Miss Crazy were bands that I overated on first listens because I was rushing. Now I realize that both are just decent. Are there any mailing lists or message boards that you would recommend? Happy early birthday.

  2. I try to keep my spending down these days, but I could easily spend a small fortune on music stuff. Two Iron Maiden concerts this fall will put a severe dent in my music budgt for sure.

  3. I go thru times where I buy a lot of albums and DVD’s, then I go months without anything. I guess I everyone falls off the wagon sometimes.

  4. I agree entirely. I have loads of cd’s that I don’t listen to, yet I keep buying and buying. There are so many hours in the days that seem to get shorter and shorter, will I ever get to listen to some of them ever again.

  5. Robert – It’s a spiral into insanity, LOL! I buy new albums and give them at least 5 to 10 listens before I give up. Some albums are growers and need the extra time. But time is gone so fast and I buy between 2 to 10 CDs at a time! I wish I could find a job that paid me to listen.

  6. Well your story is the story of my life. I was into music my whole life – did not always ahve a lot of money until five years ago – my collection at this moment is 6800 cds – i use cattrax – when i buy a cd put it in there and the cd is on the database. There are literally thousands of cds i have not listened to. 3 years ago my dreams came true and went to Sweden Rock festival – what an experience – in south africa we dont see most of the bands. keep on rocking – “Music is my first love, music is the last, music is the future and music is the past” Japie Marais
    South Africa

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