Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Soundtrack to Greed

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.


danthress said...

Andy, what about an all church record/cd sale this summer in the Crestview parking lot? We could donate all money to Asia's hope.

I could do the drumathon novelty act to attract attention and solicit donations. Maybe Jovan would join us. We could sell drinks and food and make it an event. John could BBQ, I'd pay for that.

We could, of course, really take it to heart and sell everything but our 10 desert island discs. That would be radical, but I'm not sure smart for those of us who need to reference these recordings for a living. However, it might be worth it.

If we would have to rent Crestview, we could do it at the Columbus Music Hall.

It's all kind of small, but meaningful.

Andy Whitman said...

Great idea, Dan. I'd love to take part in something like that. Let's talk about it, talk it up, and make it happen.

danthress said...

How about we call it

Rock 'n Roll Saves Lives

So long Sonic Youth.

John McCollum said...

I'm in!

Anonymous said...


count q and me in as well. this kind of stuff is right on with our desire to meet the people of clintonville. music, food, entertainment, sunny afternoons...

how can i help this vision become a reality?


mg said...


A few years ago I switched to storing cds (and their covers) in cd books (kinda like those photo albums). they take up ALOT less space and you still have the covers to read through if you want.

I also purge from my collection about once a year. I go through and find stuff that I haven't listened to in a long time and just get rid of it. The columbus library probably has a good percentage of what you have now, and you could always check it out if you get rid of it and decide that you want to listen to it again.

Another option would be to rip mp3's of the cds you decide to get rid of. That way you would still have the music even if you sell it.

Just some thoughts. I definitely understand your conundrum (sp?),

Mark K. said...

I could sell all of Kathy's Neil Dimond, ABBA, and 5th dimention albums.

danthress said...

Mark, we don't want to pay people to take the stuff.

Andy, I just unearthed about 50 music magazines that I want to blow out at the gig. I'm only keeping TapeOp issues for reference. So long idol-makers; Modern Drummer, DRUM! and Rhythm UK. And especially you, WIRE.

Socratic Coyote said...

Andy, all you need is a 200 gig iPod. It might take you two years to transfer all your stuff, but it can be done.

Andy Whitman said...

Fred, I agree with everything you say. But I also think it's good, as middle-class Americans, to periodically take inventory of our stuff and ask ourselves what we would be loathe to give away. Those are the areas that God puts His finger on and says, "Hey, look at that; good, old-fashioned capitalist idolotry!"

In my case, that area is easy to identify. It's music. Why do I say that? Because I have a bunch of LPs/CDs that I don't like, and that are taking up space in my house, and I hold on to them precisely *because* they are taking up space. I look at them and think, "Self, look how much awesome space that music takes up."

It's pathetic. It's also idolotry. I'm in no danger of giving away/selling music I really like. Sadly, my level of faith doesn't nearly go that far. But right now I'm in danger of holding on to music I *don't even like*. And I have a lot of it because I receive a lot of music for free, unasked for, because of my role as music reviewer.

That's all I'm talking about. Dump the crap. Free up the space, not because it will help the home decorating, but because it's a small, simple step that I can take that says, "This stuff will not be the master of my life; Jesus will be the master of my life" It's hard enough with crappy bands like I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the Place. But maybe, some day, I'd be willing to part with the English and French imports of all the Beatles albums. Just don't ask me to do that today.