Need only one album to listen to? You could do a lot worse than the Beatles' Anthology 3.

CDs? Do they still make those?


Remember CDs?

I had kind of forgotten about them, to be honest. Sure, I make it a point, at least once a week, to turn the lights low in my record room, put a shiny vinyl disc on the player, drop the needle, and let the warmth of the bumps emanate from the stylus and through the speakers. I’m almost obsessive about listening to full albums, front to back, over and over.

But, short of immediately depositing a CD into my computer, ripping it, and letting iTunes do the rest, CDs have been somewhat neglected in my music-listening arsenal. I have an iPod adapter in my car, and I keep it by my side at all times. My headphones might as well be connected to the back of my neck by a chain. And my records are my babies, each one a special little guy, cleaned and protected by an extra-thick plastic sleeve. It’s unhealthy.

The CDs, though, are another story. Though I’m probably close to 2,000 or so, they’re much more utilitarian. There was a time when I was very selective about which CDs I carried with me, which ones earned a coveted space in my backpack or my car. Now? Well, with 60 gigs of space with me at all times, there are hundreds of albums with me at all times. The CDs are merely archival now.

Unless you can’t find your iPod, that is.

This morning, I was running late. Hair wet, shoes untied, I was scrambling around the house getting my bag together. Keys, notebook, sunglasses, water bottle, headphones, cell phone… where’s my iPod? Good Lord, where did I put it?

I had no idea. And I was not willing to face a day at work sans music. Good job or not, I can barely function unless I’m listening to music. At the very least, I need a hockey game on in the background. Something, anything, but I can’t work in silence. I’ve never been able to.

Quickly, I decide that since I had my headphones, the CD drive in the computer tower at work was going to have to do. And with the clock ticking, I didn’t have time to get five or so discs together. This had to be quick.

I went to the shelf with the box sets, looking to get the most for my hurried grab. The Faces? Bruce Springsteen? I almost grabbed the Who. Their Thirty Years of Maximum R&B set is pretty solid, but I just wasn’t feeling the ‘Oo this morning.

The Ramones? Miles Davis? Tom Waits? No, not today. Jeez, I’m going to be late. How do you pick what you’ll want to listen to all day at 7:30 in the morning? How did I do this before? How have I only had an mp3 player for three measly years?

Finally, I glanced down on the shelf, and found salvation. Not surprisingly, it came from the Beatles. I have the Anthology CDs with the other deluxe sets, and dammit if Anthology 3 isn’t one of the best slices of music I’ve ever heard. I grabbed it, ran to the car, and through the course of the day, listened to each disc twice.

It was excellent. Free of having to spin the click-wheel through 9,000 songs and keep making decisions, I was trapped with one of the best albums I own. Through “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” “Blackbird,” “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” “I Me Mine” and “The End,” I was perfectly productive and more than content with my listening choice. I even successfully installed Windows Media Player to make it happen.

Liberated from my own collection, I was forced to just sit back and enjoy what I had. And you know what? Tomorrow, I’m bringing in the Blue Album, their 1967-1970 compilation, and repeating today’s effort.

Imagine that, listening to CDs. How delightfully 2002.

November 3, 2008

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