He's in love with-a rock'n'roll woaahh

“And that's a lot to reject, if that's the best you can do. And that's a lot to accept, if that's the best you can do. You’ve got a great collection of things cuz that’s the best you can do.”
~Eric Bachmann

Last year, my external hard drive crashed and I lost 100-odd gigabytes of music. I lost the Die Kreuzen discography. A sizeable percentage of the output of Canadian hip hop label Peanuts and Corn. More Scandinavian orchestral black metal than anybody who doesn’t particularly like orchestral black metal has any business having. I lost a megaton of bullshit that I had probably never listened to all the way through, but was packratting for a rainy day when I would finally make myself the Universal Soldier of indie snobs. The be-all-end-all of critical darling scholars. I was kind of a dumb kid.

It was a tough blow to take, the first time I plugged that little firewire fucker in and it said “device not recognized.” Not so much because I have an emotional connection with this music. Most of it had its moment in my listening carousel and would have never made its way back – and the stuff that I miss having instant access to, like the Clash’s first album, I’ve got somewhere stashed on a burned CD, in case of emergency. And I should probably buy it anyway.

Still, it was hard. It was hard because I’d spent countless hours – hundreds and hundreds of hours since Napster first broke when I was a high school frosh – compiling and curating and heavy-petting this stuff. The amount of time I must have spent just tagging mp3 files when I first downloaded iTunes probably would have killed a lesser man. I spent all this time on pop that I could have spent volunteering at an animal shelter, or reading Greek tragedies in Canadian translations ("Bacchus is a hoser, eh!"), or talking to people about things that sorta kinda matter. And the proof was already tenuously connected to reality. Billions of 1s and 0s carved into high-density magnets. It would have taken literally years to listen to all the music on that hard drive. It might have been the most impressive single act of my life, stretched out over time. The closest contender (probably "felt boobs") is a ways down the list. But now, there's no proof at all that it even happened.

I’ve been getting by with the 80 gigs on my computer ok, but the other day, I got a 250 gigabyte USB drive so small that Jennifer Garner could smuggle it in her leatherette Alias skivvies, and it wouldn’t even distract her while she was speaking Russian as badly as a Hollywood ingénue can.

And I can feel it beginning – the first scotch off the wagon. I can feel the urge to queue up every album released between 1981-1994 by an American independent label. Or all Britpop, ever. Or every 80 minute mixtape by every rapper who ever met a member of the Wu Tang Clan and knows a guy who got shot. And I’m not sure if it saddens me, or if it raises my spirits a bit, that I’m just too tired to go for it. Given the state of Bittorrent these days, I could be like a nympho in a sybian factory.

But I’m too old. Music is still my favorite thing in the world. It’s just, I can no longer muster so much as a fuck about being the lord and master of all the music in the world. And I used to be that guy. I know nobody likes that guy, but it’s a niche that needs to be filled. I’m sure a few dozen little dormrat fuckers are stepping up to bat right now to snatch my spot in the order, and it’s not that I won’t miss it, don’t miss it, because I feel like I’m betraying the 17 year old me. The one who said, “Man, I’ll never turn square. You’ll never get me, intellectual complacency. I'll be 23, still spending every dollar I have at the end of the week on vinyl. I’m going to learn everything I can about every obscure bullshit metalcore band ever to puke onstage in Massachusetts. I’m going to buy every undie-rap 12” single I can afford, so I can mix the a capella from one track with the instrumental from another. I’m going to buy one iPod just for jazz. I’ll rest when I’m dead.” I feel like I’m betraying him, the kid who was lent his unique identity by maximalness, who felt uncomfortable in his own skin, felt average, just doing the normal amount, like there wasn't enough left over to differentiate him. But man, I hate that fucking kid. Who wouldn’t?

Shut up already. I'm going to go find that Clash CD.

"Clearly, this is your loss. Clearly, it's not my loss. Clearly, it's just bad luck. Clearly, it doesn't mean a thing."
~Eric Bachmann.


SenorStephenUrkelDaedalus said...

This post raises an interesting question:

How creepy would a sybian factory be?

Joe said...

Eh, that 17-year-old was an indie rocker, nothing was gonna stop him [sic], his fashion fit. I don't know about you, but, at age 23, "indie rocker" doesn't describe me anymore - and, after a couple years working at a record store in college, "music snob" no longer seems like a double-edged, good/bad thing, just an antisocial holding pattern masquerading as a perpetual education. I still listen to new things all the time, but I no longer do it in order to sew another merit badge on my Kung Fu Nation sash. Getting older just means getting a clue, which isn't so bad. (Seriously... try talking to a 19-year-old about this stuff. It's ugly.)

D said...

What was really creepy was when Charlie found the 5th golden sybian, and that old guy tried to trade him a bike for it.

I was never really an indie rocker, mostly by merit of never really getting along with other indie rockers, so I was an elitist Delta Force of one (talk about homosocial). But, I still don't really have a clue. I'm working on it.