It seems as though there is a lot of music out there. More than anyone could actually listen to or process or make sense of. I have a personal catalogue of music that I lost track of years ago. I didn’t lose it, I just have no idea what is in it. Every so often I make a cup of tea (tonight was hot chocolate with chili powder but you get the idea), sit down with it and scream “WE’RE NOT LEAVING HERE UNTIL I UNDERSTAND WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON!” And then I log on to facebook, notice links to sets on soundcloud (this one by my very talented friend Nicole is particularly good) or end up wandering in the wasteland of videos that lead me to unexpected places. Earlier I was watching videos of Suzi Quatro, which of course led me to Happy Days(remember when she was Leather Trocadero?), a fight between fonzie and tom hanks, Mork and Mindy outtakes….it’s a crazy internet out there. Needless to say, cup of hot chocolate finished, it’s 3 hours later and I haven’t managed to make it past the A’s. Do I have too much music? Is an abundance of easily accessible music creating an apathy towards music in general?
Between free downloads from the internet (the legal kind from people who’ve posted mixes they made themselves), music swapping parties with friends (all dealing with music acquired legally with no copyright infringement at all) and cd’s that I have bought and burned onto my laptop so I could have a digital copy (because do cd’s still exist?) I have accrued a library of sounds and happiness that is so large most of the time I can’t be bothered. I keep a 120 gigabyte ipod barely 1/12 full at any given time. I spend more time trying to organize the music folder into a system that makes sense than I do actually listening to music. It’s at the point where there is no reason to have folders of individual artists. A good portion of them I’m completely clueless about. It’s better if I class them by genre, or would be if the majority of them didn’t span at least 3 or 4 different genres at a time.
Now and again I have this moment where I almost wipe the drive completely clean. There is a part of my brain that loves organization. I was the kid who would mess up her room so that I could clean it and reorganize and move the furniture and create a whole new space. And what better way to create space than to delete everything. Oh, there is a part of me that craves the clean empty space of a drive with nothing on it, ready to be filled with new and meaningful. Because honestly, I’m sure I have music I will never listen to but what if someone I really want to think I’m cool is perusing my collection one day? Yes, I actually think like that. Of course, right this second I can’t think of a single band that I haven’t deleted to keep that fringe element who might be cruising around in my data interested and thinking I’m sooo cool for liking…. but I know they’re there.
Regardless of this need for people who might never be in my house, much less my hard drive (there’s an innuendo there somewhere) to think I’m cool (actually there was this guy whose name I don’t know, I called him Jersey, down in Costa Rica who spent a good portion of the night being impressed by the quality of the taste of my hard drive..BAM! Validated! True story. Thank you so much Bill Withers… ) I will forever continue to collect music. Every so often there will be a purge (does anyone really need Harry Chapin’s ENTIRE discography?) when I try to scale back and save room for the new ones flocking in. But honestly I’ve mostly stopped asking when at friend’s houses who is this? I must have it! I might ask who it is, but it’s rare that I’ll store the info in my brain long enough to seek them out unless they really truly resonate.
But I wonder how much of this has to do with the fact that I am addressless right this second. I mean, I live places. I have a room of my own, I have a bed and some books and a dresser with my clothes in it. Which is actually a step up from my mum’s place where things were in milk crates or strewn about the floor in a haphazard fashion. Maybe the next place I live I’ll have a desk like surface to write on, rather just lolling around on a bed in various positions until I get uncomfortable and shift again.
At any rate, I have a rule (that I break constantly) which states, I am not allowed to acquire books if I don’t have an address. I wonder if subliminally, my brain is shutting down on the music front as well because, while I do have a stereo, it’s in a box in a storage locker. Perhaps it’s just a phase, but what does one do with too much data? How do you process it all? How do I justify having so much that I’ve never listened to? Is it like this for everyone who collects music the way I do? Because I think the hard drive with stored data, a lot of which is music and film is a pretty common occurrence these days. At least at all the music swapping parties I’ve been to.
Then I think about the music I wish were more available (everything by Alan Lomax!) and how much shite there is out there (yes, I’ve turned into my father with regards to popular music–that’s not music! IT’S CRAP!) and I wonder if there will be subsequent generations who never filter back far enough to hear the booker t and the mg’s, of which sunday sermon is my favourite song in the world. It was a rite of passage for me to move away from the music of my parents (for me that was 30-40’s jazz) and into something more contemporary (70’s punk) before finding the happy medium between the two in blues, r&b from the 40’s-70’s. The first time I heard Led Zeppelin? Oh my world. And (am I crazy to think this?) it seemed as though there wasn’t as much music to get in the way of hearing everything to some extent at least once, if you were looking around enough. But now, there is so much of everything and new things and electronic music alone has every imaginable english and non english word you could think of to describe sounds that most of the time people aren’t even sure how to dance to! But I digress.
It could be that lack of address is creating a place of musical limbo. There are a lot of things in my brain that I’m perfectly aware are in a holding pattern, in anticipation of the new year (march 1st) which is the magical date I have decided on to be the day my life belongs to me and no one else for the first time in a while. I’ll still have accountability to friends or projects or festivals or things that need doing, but my first point of desire is to find a house. An address of my own, where my books can live on shelves, my piano can live near a window, my dog can frolic in the yard and surrounding woods, we can set up lights and have secret garden parties and practice for the circus which I might still run away and join someday, and there will be music. Glorious music. But at that point, I might just throw my hard drive in the ocean and make my own. As if I would, you never know when a hot surfer will want to stay up all night and check out your data. (BAM!)