Life style

I’m the last person on earth who still buys CDs. Here’s why…

One dark day, a fresh-faced person in a lab coat will try to pry an old Spoon record out of my gnarled old hands. And that day there will be a scuffle.

I’m not about to let go of this jewelry box and I look forward to the day when I can use all the strength I have left to educate these youth about CDs.

About 82 million people in the US paid for it Music Streaming Services as of 2021. In 2022, US vinyl sales hit a paltry 43 million.

And yet here I am, swearing to be the last person on earth to buy CDs.

It’s not so much about the CDs themselves. Vinyl lovers (a group I count myself in) will be talking about sound quality and big, beautiful album covers. CDs don’t offer much charm. No one will ever play a CD and mutter to themselves while clutching a mug of hot tea, “Mmm, so warm.”

This is about the ongoing struggle for control of my own beloved music collection. It’s about how, in wild frustration, I chose a hill to die on. A hill made entirely of CDs.

I would now like to take this opportunity to blame my father.

Well, guilt isn’t quite right. The guy is a champ. He’s also a former radio DJ with enough records to one day build the Carson family mausoleum. Thing is, you can’t put Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band – with the bright yellow gatefold, the blood red back and all the colorful mayhem on the front cover – in the hands of a 6-year-old and doesn’t expect anything to happen.

My father’s collection always felt magical. It was a huge physical presence that was older than me and served as evidence of a version of him before he was my father. Not getting thrown out of different moving trucks was important enough as my family moved from Texas to California to Georgia to Tennessee over the years.

I never thought about it not Build your own collection.

So I started mine two years later, at a time when cassettes were losing ground to CDs and vinyl was straight above. At a pivotal moment when I bought my first album, I decided on my format and chose to have a CD of the album I was buying because CDs, I was told, were the future.

Currently running:
Look at that:

So retro: analog recording in a digital world


Back in 2007, researchers at the University of Winchester in the UK conducted a study into why people collect music. One of the main reasons is that people try to construct a cultural autobiography that represents facets of themselves – the good guys, the bad guys, and the boy bands.

That’s definitely true for me. I arrange my CDs in the order that they are relevant to me. My CD shelf is like an arctic core ice sample, with each shelf representing an era in my life. The busiest shelf is from college, when everything sounded important and my friends and I locked ourselves out on Friday afternoons to go to the record store. One look at Wincing the Night Away by the Shins from 2007 and I’m back in my dorm hanging a poster of (what else?) Sgt. Pepper.

Of course there are other reasons why I buy CDs. For one, I want the artists I care about to take my money so they can keep making the music I lean on at every high, low, and in-between point in my life.


Do you remember actually going into a store and buying CDs? I do it because I still do it.

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Also liner notes, man. Where else can I find out who co-wrote which song and what obscure ’70s R&B tune was sampled on which track so I can bore my friends?

Another reason: I want. like i do

Pharaoh Khufu got a pyramid. Let me have some stacks of an obsolete media format.

None of this is to say that I have anything against other formats. I own vinyl. I subscribe to a streaming service. And I admit that CD purchases have become more difficult to sustain, partly because I can listen to any album the day it comes out and have the opportunity to debate with myself whether a record is important enough to warrant a spot in my autobiography of albums.

Also, it often happens that I’ll go to my neighborhood record store and try to keep my money locally and just can’t find what I’m looking for.

As a result, my collection is imperfect. There are albums I forgot to buy. Or albums that I bought digitally that made sense but aren’t on my CD shelf.

But I try. I always try

There’s a deep sadness I feel when my music collection is spread across different rooms, hard drives and even servers. Today, when I stumble upon a new artist or band, I’ve asked myself a few questions: If I never buy it, is it still mine? Does it have to be mine? Would I mind that less? Would it change that specific feeling to find an album that will probably always sound like Spring 2019 to me if I had it on CD?

I won’t bother trying to find out because I most likely probably will Buy it. And if the boy in the lab coat comes up to me, I’ll smack him with it.

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