We are running out of space for music at my house. This is a frightening thing in a 3,000+ square foot house with lots of closet space, but there you go. The den is crammed solid -- two floor-to-ceiling bookcases full of CDs, and two freestanding bookcases that take up the width of the room crammed full of LPs. Which still doesn't leave any room for the tapes and the other half of the LPs, which are stashed in various closets and cabinets throughout the house. And music publicists keep sending me more and more new music, to the tune of one or two new CDs per day.
Kate, being Kate, has suggested a music purge. I, being me, have rejected the idea out of hand, in the same way that I would reject a suggestion to amputate my nose. But something has to be done, and not only because of the space. I really do read my Bible, and I know the solution is not to build bigger and better storage bins. And, in truth, about half of what shows up in my mailbox isn't very good, and it wouldn't kill me to just throw a lot of it away. Or, even better, to sell it and use the money to help people. But it's still painful to contemplate.
It's the age-old struggle to let go of stuff. I am a good American consumer, or at least I was until people started sending me music for free. I don't know what you call that, but the same dynamic and the same heart attitudes are still at work, even if I'm not making the cash registers of the capitalists at Capitol Records go cha-ching. But there's a kind of sickness there that I need to repent of, and from which I desire to be healed. Some days. Other days I zealously guard the music collection, find the holes in the alphabetized stacks, immediately calculate what isn't there, notice when one disk from the four-disk Frank Sinatra Reprise Years boxed set is missing, and play Spanish Inquisitor with my daughters to find out which one of them has done the dastardly deed. Look, that was the disk that had "Fly Me to the Moon" on it. I can't just calmly accept that it's gone, even though I could take solace in the other 5,000 or so albums that are still there (who knows, really? I stopped counting at 3,000, when it dawned on me that it probably wasn't a very good idea to count). And so, in some twisted way, I choose to do damage to relationships because of a missing piece of plastic. As I said, it's a kind of sickness.
Sell all that you have, and give the money to the poor. And he went away sad, for lo, he had one righteous music collection. I read the letters my friend John McCollum receives from orphans in Thailand. They are heartbreaking. I look at the stacks and stacks of albums, many of which I've played once, and have no great desire to ever play again. These kids have no clothes, no food. I, on the other hand, have a CD by a band called I Can Lick Any Son of a Bitch in the Place that is godawful, and that I have no desire to ever listen to again. Once was more than enough. And I have many CDs like that one. It is a measure of my weakness and obstinancy that I still hesitate. Maybe it's time to lose the nose. Or at least a batch of worthless music that might actually, incredibly, help to make a difference in peoples' lives.