An ode to a fallen audio format

Photo by Keith Race

A letter to the disappearing art of buying and listening to CDs

Photo by Keith Race

I remember the excitement I felt when I started buying my own CDs. I would beg my parents for money, and when they finally gave in, I’d beg them to drive me to the mall after school to buy the latest release from whatever artist I was obsessing over at the time. I’d immediately go home, tear open the plastic, and flip through the album artwork, admiring each glossy page.

I may no longer save up my allowance or beg my parents for money to buy a CD, but the excitement is still there. In the age of digital downloads and torrents, people expressing their love for compact discs is rare. They’re becoming less and less prominent, and that makes me sad. I’m that person who counts down to an album release and goes to HMV to buy it the day it comes out. I always have been and I always will be.

I’m not saying that I don’t download music digitally, because I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. Most of the music I have on my computer was downloaded. Some albums though, deserve to be purchased, and even though you can buy an album within seconds from the comfort of your own home on iTunes, I can’t stand the idea of not having a CD to hold in my hands.

When I was a kid, I didn’t have a computer in my room, I didn’t have a laptop, and I didn’t have a cell phone. I had my CDs, and I would put on my headphones and listen to some of them for hours on end, replaying my favourite songs until I knew them by heart.

Each CD I have brings back a memory — some good, and some bad. Britney Spears’ In The Zone, for example, reminds me of when I was dragged to my older sister’s soccer games as a kid. I would bring my portable CD player (remember Discmans?), find a nice shady spot, and listen to Britney.  The countless scratches on the case prove that it’s been through a lot, and I love that. I even remember when I was around nine-years-old, and my sister wanted to borrow my Christina Aguilera CD. I reluctantly let her. When she returned it with a cracked case, I went ballistic.

Maybe I’m just being overly-sentimental, but I love being able to look through my collection and reminisce. Some of my older purchases are a bit questionable, but I still have a story for every CD I own. Whether it’s when I got it, who bought it for me, or how I related to the music at the time, I’ll never forget how it came to be mine. That’s what makes them special. You don’t get that feeling when you digitally download an album.

In the fast-paced modern world we live in, we’re constantly finding ways to make our lives more compact and efficient. Over the decades, we’ve moved from records to cassettes to compact discs, and now digital downloads. It may be more convenient to download an album on your laptop rather than going to the store to buy it, but if you’re as sappy as I am, you know that it’s not quite the same thing.

I’ll keep buying CDs for as long as they’re still producing them. I don’t care if I’m running out of storage space, or that my family and friends think I’m weird for actually paying for my music. They’ll always have a special place in my heart.


1 comment

  1. I still love the CD format. I think it’s brilliant, and it irks me to see so many people denigrating it these days. However… I’ve got to admit, I’ve become very fearful of buying new CDs. For more than a decade now most CDs, at least in pop music and rock, have been sonically crushed with way too compressed dynamic range. When a new album comes out on CD and LP these days, I go for the LP version. I find often the LP will have as much as twice the dynamic range of the CD. That’s just nuts, because you know CDs can handle much greater dynamic range than LP records, it’s part of why the CD was invented. However, that’s where we’ve arrived at now, whether it makes sense or not.

Comments are closed.

Related Posts