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My name: Brian Martin
It happens. It can happen. It happened to me.
I’m not sure exactly when I started buying records. Yes, records – those vinyl monstrosities you had to flip over halfway through. Even the singles were larger than CDs. Not that flipping was any great inconvenience; that is, unless you bought the single for Don McLean’s “American Pie.” At just over eight and half minutes, the song had to be split between Sides A and B. That was an irritating flip, I can assure you.
It is perhaps indicative that the first records I remember actually buying (well, convincing my mom to buy for me) and the first record I remember wearing out were released in 1973 and 1974, respectively. So in any case it had to be about that time, maybe a year or two later. The important thing is that, once having started, I couldn’t – and didn’t want to – stop, so that by the time CDs came along, I owned a lot of them. Not a lot by collectors’ standards, by any means, but far more than any of my friends.
I loved music. I still do. But, for me, the music died in 1991.
It’s no coincidence that this was just about the time of the vinyl record’s last gasp. I was in no position to afford the new technology and I was ill disposed to the idea of having to re-purchase hundreds of records, anyway. And I was stubborn. Had I looked at the thing realistically, I would have seen right off that I could very easily do without a large number of records in my collection. But, as with books, I find it almost as hard to dispose of a bad one as a good one. I’m a librarian.
What happened as a result was simple but deadly: I stopped haunting the music stores. (I never had relied much on radio.) As a consequence, music started passing me by. It’s interesting that if I look at the Billboard Top 10, I own something from every year from 1973-1991. I can count on one hand the number of Top 10 songs I own from ’92 to the present, with fingers left over.
I didn’t crawl under the rock completely, of course. Having acquired a CD player, I bought the occasional CD. It helped that my wife introduced me to Rockstar, from the Philippines, and Thalia, from Mexico, among others. It helped even more when songs became available for individual purchase. Even so, if you were to take a look at my iPod playlist, you’d find that it’s mostly pre-1991 music.
The damage had already been done. The centrality of music in my life was a thing of the past. Every year, I make only one New Year’s resolution: to listen to more music. It’s difficult, though. The old patterns are gone and new ones have taken their place. The only time I really listen anymore is the car.