Goodbye to Jewel Cases
It was hard to say goodbye, but the cases were taking up too much space.
Peter Tosh’s Live & Dangerous: Boston 1976 was bought at the now-defunct Union Square Virgin Megastore. My jaw-dropped when I heard how painfully out-of-tune Tosh’s guitar was. How high was he? The hazy cover photograph of Tosh’s preoccupied mindset told the whole story.
Or Uncle Tupelo’s Still Feel Gone. Despite it’s tiny letters, I read the liner notes over and over just to figure out who Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar really were. The liner notes detailed Tupelo’s rigorous touring schedule, and how each gas pump reignited the love and bitterness between members. Drunken words came rollicking out as a result.
Trashing the CD cases would be the beginning to a larger process of ripping all of my CDs to a hard-drive. I planned on ditching the discs as well. Clear shelves equal a clear mind. Do you understand how sensitive your subconscious is to the clutter around you? Attributing sentimental value to the shelf-occupying jewel cases was a waste of emotional energy.
Still unsure of my upcoming process, I asked my friends at r/audiophile on Reddit their thoughts on throwing away all of my CDs to be replaced by hard-drive rips. Their opinions, primarily from member birdnerd, were wildly insightful:
- If any of your CD rips become corrupted, still having the disc is the most effective way to back them up.
- Hard drives fail.
- If the RIAA came knocking at my door, I would have proof that I do own this music.
As I watched the stack to be thrown away get higher, it became harder to say goodbye. More memories arose. Forty Putumayo World Music digipakstheir colorful artwork and detailed liner notesto be trashed. I stumbled upon the world music label’s office after an NYU essay-writing seminar. I waltzed in and asked, “Can I work here?” It was my first job in New York City.
Or the three weeks (at least) spent jumping around my room to the Pixies’ Trompe Le Mondemy first Pixies exposureoverwhelmed by the screams of Black Francis and analyzing the lyrics to figure out what the heck he was saying. I took this disc from Stereophile Music Editor Robert Baird’s office, along with CDs from Emmylou Harris, M. Ward, and Wynton Marsalis. All the cases were to be tossed.
I heard Web Editor Jon Iverson’s cautionary tone in the back of my head, “But don’t you care about having a collection?” A collection of LPs and album jackets, I can admire. I want the crooks of my fingers to wrap around their edges. I want to hug them. I want to smell them. The soft cardboard and warm colors of each LP sleeve makes me feel safe. The clinical plastic and hard-corner edges of a jewel case offer the exact opposite experience visually, physically, and emotionally.
Then, I saw a stuffed toy camel laying on its side on the same shelf as my CDs. It mocked me with its line-less grin and beady eyes. It was a random gift I’d been holding on to for fourteen years. It did nothing for me. It did not even stand up straight its own feet. I noticed it every couple years when moving apartments and right now. This forsaken camel would be my metaphor. I would no longer let things that served me no purpose occupy physical or mental space.
I have an LP collection that makes me happy because its freaking beautiful and smells like home and a collection of old bills and receipts that has been useful in the most unexpected situations. Lyrics and liner notes were replaced by the prevalence of information on the internet, and while I may not get the inside scoop on what happened on Uncle Tupelo's tour, it is not like I ever went back to read it again. The album, on the other hand, is still in constant rotation. CDs turn me on for what's on the inside.
I turned my head away and dropped the cases into the trash can. Crack-ack-clackity-clackity-screeeack. The screeching and breaking of the jewel cases ran up my spine.
Thanks to the thoughtful advice from the folks on Reddit, I will keep the discs because it is the safest form of backup. Also, I love the way CDs look reflecting different shades of light with each turn of the page within the CD case.
Two weeks later, there was a stoop sale a block from me. The CD collection was calling. I came home with a tower of jewel cases including albums from the Allman Brothers Band, Jeff Beck, Howie B, Beethoven, and Bach. And so it goes.