I got my first CD player the summer between 11th and 12th grade. I was doing an internship, making my own money for once, and when that first paycheck came in I felt RICH. I don’t even remember how much it was now, but I was decidedly not rich. I just felt like it in the moment, the way you do when your mom’s still paying for everything so you can focus specifically on your wants.
That was me.
And what I wanted was a CD player. I already had some CD’s, one I won from a radio station contest, and another couple I bought in anticipation of the CD player. It was the early ’90s, so tapes were still very much in vogue, at least where I came from. If you had CD’s you were on the cutting edge of tomorrow. I wanted to be on that edge, but I would have to be able to play them.
So I went to Sears and picked one out. It was a single disc player. I mean, I was suddenly rich, but I wasn’t so rich my eyes weren’t bugged out by the prices of the multi-disc changers. Besides, I thought eventually I would trade in my single for a multi, so why not start small? On the way back home from the store, my player tucked neatly in the large white bag, I dropped in on the record store and bought four CD’s.
1. Heart in Motion – Amy Grant
2. We Can’t Dance – Genesis
3. For the Cool in You – Babyface
4. Thriller – Michael Jackson
I still have all four of them, though I hardly listen to the actual CD’s anymore. It’s funny how they were the height of sophistication back then, but 27 years later they’re passe, replaced by streaming, playlists, and air. So much air. I used to listen to at least one of them in its entirety every Sunday morning, first thing. It makes me wonder how many of you still listen to entire albums — ever.
Of course, in this day and age, I don’t listen to many albums all the way through anymore, unless I really want to reminisce, or a particular album is really strong from start to finish. I’ve heard a few of them recently, but they have been few and far between, precisely because of this shift I mentioned. When each song is available individually, you don’t have to listen to the album, and something is inherently lost.
A few years back, I started doing something a little different with my Sunday mornings, going from listening to these whole albums to setting my iTunes on shuffle and seeing what songs showed up. I call it Sunday Shuffle…
1. Dile Que – Enrique Iglesias
2. Just Kickin’ It – DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
3. Not Quite Sonic – I Mother Earth
4. My House – Flo Rida
5. “40” (live from Under a Blood Red Sky) – U2
6. Circle Jerk – Aerosmith
7. Sister Don’t Cry – Collective Soul
8. The Boy is Mine – Glee Cast
9. Sunday (live) – The Cranberries
10. Love is My Disease – Alicia Keys
Bonus 3: Mirror Mirror – LL Cool J., At Last/Sleep All Day (live acoustic) – Jason Mraz, Echoes of Love – The Doobie Brothers.
Of course my CD player never could have accomplished this kind of magic. I like the shuffle in a way I never could have imagined when I was listening to my albums back in the day because it allows me to go back through hundreds of thousands of songs that I might not have listened to in a dog’s age. It reminds me of how far I’ve come since I had those seven CD’s.
It reminds me of what kind of an influence music has always had, and always will have, in my life.