The Great Purge

Photo on 2010-02-17 at 23.59

As I write this, I find myself surrounded. By Vanilla Ice and John Oates. By Queen Latifah and Shawn Mullins. By Soundgarden and Shaw•Blades and Naughty By Nature and Kiss and Heavy D and Stone Temple Pilots.

Upon returning from Florida last night, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my wife had our dog-piss-stained carpet uprooted from the den … along with our three massive CD racks. Man, was I ever thrilled. We moved into this house in 2003, and one of the first things we did was drill the racks into a wall in the den. Approximately, oh, six days later, the CD Death March began. Napster and iTunes and illegal downloads overtook the music business, and by 2007 the idea of actually purchasing a compact disc (plastic case and all!) seemed utterly ludicrous. Every time I looked at those racks, lined with the likes of New Edition and Donna Summer and Nelly, I felt increasingly ancient. CDs are clearly the stuff of a dead generation. So to have them, prominently mounted, well, it screamed, “You are washed up!”

Now they’re done—and hell hath arrived. When the racks came down, Catherine stacked all the CDs (more than 3,000 in total) in our office, bought a bunch of binders and—after digging through them herself—said to me, “Choose what you want to keep.” I didn’t think this would be such a big deal, but here I am, 11:47 pm, copying the House Party soundtrack onto my computer.

I attained my debut CD way back in 1993, when some music compa2c6490b809a05dc44dca7110.L._SL500_AA240_ny sent my college paper a handful of the disc “Enjoy the Ride” by a forgettable group called Another Carnival. After graduating I moved on to Nashville, purchased my first stereo with a CD player (three discs at once!) and became a regular at the local used music stores. I still recall my initial visit to Phonoluxe, when I snagged discs by Young MC, Lenny Kravitz and Sam Cooke—total price, $5. Before long, I was a disc whore. Bought anything and everything. A scratched Soul Assylum for 99 cents. Kiss Destroyer at the used Tower Records store in Manhattan. A Pearl Jam bootleg in Rome. The plastic cases became my obsession, especially if those cases contained Hall & Oates CDs. In 2010, if I don’t have the world’s largest Hall & Oates CD collection (42 discs), I’ve gotta be in the Top 10. I’m guessing Daryl Hall and John Oates don’t possess as many Daryl Hall and John Oates CDs as I do.

And now … it’s over. The great purge has begun, and as I shed a tear for Starship and the Bison Chips; for Skee-Lo (who, according to Wikipedia, “is scheduled to release a new comeback album in 2009 labeled “Overdose” after a nine-year absence”) and Sheriff, I find myself reluctant to fill cardboard boxes with the music that has provided much of my life’s soundtrack.