I’m a collector. I like to research, seek out, collect, rank, classify, and organize stuff. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed collecting is music.
When I was a kid and didn’t have any money, I would listen to the Top 40 Countdown on the radio (hosted by Casey Kasem). I’d have a cassette recorder held up to the radio to record the songs I liked. Pirating 1.0! Then I got a cassette recorder/radio combo. This was a big-time quality improvement. If my mother came in to yell at me for having the music up too loud, I didn’t have it in my song anymore. Pirating 2.0! Later around 1981 (as a 9-year-old) when MTV started (think about that…life before a music video) I would sit in front of the television with my recorder and do the same to music videos. This was back when MTV used to play music videos all day. MTV was cool because they were playing things I couldn’t get on regular radio (or the Top 40 Countdown). Pirating 3.0! I’d make my own cassette mixtapes and sometimes I’d even buy real cassettes. In 1985 (12 years old) I purchased my first cassette tape from Cat’s Records in Rivergate Mall. It was the Fat Boys self-titled debut. My Mom also made me purchase a Christian rock album from Petra (Beat The System). I guess this was to hopefully offset the satanic rap musician I had just purchased. I enjoyed electronic music and anything in the rap/hip-hop/gangsta rap genre. It was a good thing for me since I was living through the birth of the electronic music and rap/hip-hop/gangsta rap genres. It was bad for my Mom since she thought her son was going to the “bad place.” By the time I was driving (around 1988) I’d cruise around Springfield mainly just to listen to music. My car had one of the better ‘systems’ in town. I would listen to gangsta rap and new jack swing almost constantly. My Bell Biv Devoe and NWA cassettes were worn out!
When Compact Discs arrived in the early nineties, I loved life. No more tapes with their poor sound quality. This was digital and permanent. This was the perfect medium to build a brand-new music collection. My first CD was Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel. It arrived from Santa along with a JVC CD player boom box (with bass boost)! Man, that thing could rock!
BMG Music Club and Columbia House CD Music Clubs were “the” deals of the day. Join and get 8 CDs for $.01. Then buy 1 at regular price, which was usually about 2 times what you could buy it for at a real store. Reject (via mail) the monthly CD they would try to send you. Quit! Sign up and do it again as fast as the mailbox would work. Late high school and all through college I would do this. Once I was in college, I’d hit the used CD stores (the Great Escape and Phonolux) every week. I quickly built up a few hundred CDs in my collection. During college I used my music collection wisely. I always had some good tunes in my car and met this girl named Emily. I would make her ride around with me and listen to music. We’d listen to music all over Nashville. By the time I graduated college in 1995 I was quite proud of the large quality collection I had amassed. I had a small wall of CD shelves with everything all lined up neatly by the artist. I’d listen to my CDs at work as we started Investment Scorecard many long, long days and nights.
In the early 90’s something called the Internet arrived. If you paid a fortune and went to college you could even get on it in a computer lab. Later, by the mid 90’s people started to have their own computers!?! Wild! In the very late 1990s, something called an MP3 became popular. In 1999 Napster, the original file “sharing” tool, came into being. Any song you wanted was available if someone else had it on their computer and shared it with you. It was the wild west of music. It was limited only by how fast your Internet connection was and how diligent you were at getting what you wanted. Back in that day a dial-up 56.6k modem was considered pretty good. Cable modems had just arrived and were lightning fast…but really expensive. Luckily, I needed one ‘for work’ and they paid for it. I remember Brent (my college roommate and lifelong music friend) and me talking and him saying “all the free music you can want…we will tell our grandkids about this.” “Free” was a very loose term…it could have also been referred to as stolen. Whatever! I figured I had bought the same song enough times on a cassette and then had to buy it again on a CD that I wouldn’t mind not buying them again on mp3. What had the recording industry ever done for me?!?!? Piracy 4.0! Needless to say as a music lover and collector (and a pretty big, cheapskate, nerd too) I went to work. I pulled up Napster and downloaded every song available from my favorite band. I then pulled up Amazon (a new website that started off selling books but was now in the music game) and typed my favorite band name in. It said you might like ‘blah’…I typed that into Napster and downloaded it all. Repeated night after night for weeks and weeks. I would only download the high-quality versions of the mp3s. I spent many a late-night upstairs in the bonus room of our Burton Hills home downloading song after song. The key was to get everything I could as quickly as I could then uninstall Napster. Every day you’d read an article about how Napster was the death of humanity! I just knew some SWAT team was about to come through the window at any moment. Once I had everything I might remotely ever care about I’d figure out ‘if’ I actually wanted it or not. Well, it all came to pass. They shut that site down. Others would spring up here and there (and still do) but digital rights management has progressed over time and record labels now have kind of figured out to have you actually pay for music you want to own. Anyway, when it was all said and done and the dust settled from all of my efforts I had about 10,000 songs in my music library. More than enough music to grow old with. Once again, I was proud of my collection.
In 2001 the iPod was invented. No more discs with 15 songs on each one. I couldn’t afford one yet but knew I wanted to be able to walk around with hundreds or thousands of my favorite songs in my pocket. By 2003 iTunes was the place you went to buy music and what you used to store it on your computer (legally). This is where my own children pick up. They are so lucky…in my day we had to walk uphill…through snow…er…nevermind…you just read that… We’ve probably purchased a hundred Apple Music playing devices over the years through my four kid’s teenage years.
In the early 2000’s music streaming services were started. Now you didn’t even need to own the songs you liked. You’d just type them into a website or app and boom there it is. All you need is an Internet connection (or mobile Internet connection). By around 2005 Pandora was the market leader. Again, type in your favorite artist and let it introduce you to something new. I’ll be honest, I believe Pandora is one of the most amazing inventions of modern time. Wheel, electricity, indoor plumbing…Pandora! It has introduced me to more new music that I enjoy that I likely would have never found on my own. Today there are several of these services. The idea of owning music is crazy now. Now you just listen to what you want from music libraries that contain millions of songs. If you really care you can pay a monthly fee for extra features and no commercials.
As you can see the methods and accessibility have changed over the years. But what remains the same is the music. The songs we love to hear and explore and collect in whatever way we desire.
Back to those 10,000 songs I have (now about 14,000) the ones I’ve spent years listening to. I’ve been rating them in iTunes. In 2015 I had just finished another pass where I whittled my 5-star songs down by another 1,000. At the time I had 3,133 5-star songs. 9 days of musical perfection! I have them all loaded on an iPod and it rides with me everywhere I go. My 5-star songs in iTunes are the songs that I could listen to over and over and never get tired of…ever! They are from all kinds of genres and from all kinds of decades. Songs about love, family, nasty stuff, nice stuff, important stuff, and stupid stuff. There are songs on that list that literally almost make me cry every time I hear them. There are songs that when I hear them, I literally have to dance to them or sing along. There are songs that make me think of times in my life that I liked and times that I hated. There are songs that remind me of my kids, things we’ve done, things I hope to do. There are songs that are manly, fruity, hard, soft, etc. I love them all. That is one thing you’ll notice quickly if you look at my 5-star songs. I like a lot of all kinds of music. If my iPod is on random it will jump from Kesha to Nine Inch Nails to Merle Haggard to Skrillex to whatever.
Nerd!?!! Sure, you might say that. But to me, it was fun…to collect…to figure out what I liked and go get it.
My friend Brent (college roommate) and I talk about music more than anything else. We love some of the same stuff and we hate some things the other one loves. Regardless, we both love music and love talking about it. He has introduced me to all kinds of stuff I’d never known about that I now love. I always like new stuff and might like what you are loving right now too. I remember one day Justin Bieber popped up on my iPod and I was like what’s this!?!? Some knucklehead kid had bought something on iTunes and it made it onto my iPod somehow?!?!? Anyhoo…I now have tons of 5-star Bieber songs on my list now! I’m a Belieber!!!
If you want to swap music picks let’s be friends on Spotify. Click the link below and let’s be friends:
Read about my favorite artists and favorite concerts @ https://deanorolls.com/music/