I am clearing some space in my one-bedroom apartment, and I recently tackled the project of going through a large blue tote filled with about 200 CDs. All of the albums have been loaded into my iTunes library, so there’s no real reason for me to hang on to them.
I separated some that I wanted to keep for sentimental reasons—like The Best of Schubert, Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity and This Desert Life by Counting Crows, which I listened to continuously (on repeat cycle) when trying to decide whether to leave Arizona nine summers ago.
I took more than 150 CDs that I wanted to sell to The Sound Garden in Armory Square. Two male clerks divided my collection into a few large stacks and then started going through them, deciding what to buy and what to pass on.
I was amused as I stood there on the other side of the counter, watching as albums I loved by Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Otis Redding, Nat King Cole, Roy Orbison, along with other CDs by Guster, The Cure, The Cult and the Rolling Stones, were all returned to me, declined and discarded. One of the clerks said the total they were willing to give me was 93 dollars and I said that was more than fair. I hadn’t expected to make that much.
I took my cash winnings and headed home; I felt like I had just finished hitting a few exactas at the track. The next day I carried a suitcase filled with the remaining CDs to the 3fifteen thrift store in Marshall Square Mall, where the woman working the counter accepted all of them as a donation. She also gave me a coupon for a free cup of coffee next door at Cafe Kubal (not a bad deal from my perspective).
It seems the pruning of my CD collection completes a chapter in my life, as I move into middle age, putting aside the things of my youth and realigning my priorities. Seeing the CDs laid out on the counter at The Sound Garden reminded me of how important my music collection was to me in my early twenties and throughout my thirties. Living alone for most of that time, the CDs were my companions and the songs they played provided another voice, another sound in otherwise lonely apartments.
But as I shoved the CDs I had saved back into my walk-in closet, I thought of a line from a Bruce Springsteen song. It’s from the title track from the album The River:
“Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air …”
And the song continues, so I’ll let “The Boss” close out this blog post:
“Now I just act like I don’t remember
Mary acts like she don’t care.
But I remember us riding in my brother’s car
Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir
At night on them banks I’d lie awake
And pull her close just to feel each breath she’d take
Now those memories come back to haunt me,
they haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse
that sends me down to the river …”