I don't know why exactly, but it makes me listen in a different way. As much as I adore the iPod (okay, seriously adore the iPod) it's taken something away from my listening experience.
Maybe it's associated with the physical sensation... Plucking through the CD visor, the flaps too loose from overcrowding. Holding a finger through one, two, sometimes six at a time while I search through pockets. Cursing when I drive over railroad tracks and discs fly out.
Okay, maybe I don't miss that.
You see, one of the features I love most about iTunes is its ability to create playlists. I've got Favorites, and Girls! Girls! Girls!, Early Morning, and Calm Me Down. Playlists are the quintessential mixed tape, or perhaps her hotter, hipper, younger replacement. When I belt out Martina McBride's Independence Day and go straight into Evanescence' My Immortal, that's a pretty awesome Sing Out Loud mix.
In recent weeks, though, I've been exploring new music, and there's a certain connection between artist and listener when the songs are played in order. When I pop in a new CD and listen from start to finish, the arrangement might affect me as much as the melody or lyrics. In addition, I find that my "Music A.D.D." goes away. If listening to my iPod, I'm constantly switching songs; but when listening to a CD, I listen over and over, sometimes for days at a time. When I'm done with a CD, I know the music -- better than anything I've downloaded straight to an iPod.
Which is probably why, when deciding the Holy Grail of my favorite albums, eight of the top ten are b.i.t. (before iTunes). Just looking at the album covers invoke a homesickness in me. It's the same feeling I get when I think about my childhood home, or summers with my family at the beach. I'll never feel the way I did in that place, in those moments, just as I will never feel the way I did when I fell in love with these artists, these albums. The music takes me back, though, for just a moment. I can sing out loud with the same abandon I did when I listened in my first car, in my first apartment... feel the pain of heartbreak and the thrill of moving away from home.
Indeed, I love my iPod. I love the listening diversity it's brought to long drives and my sing-at-the-top-of-my-lungs mood. I revel in the ease with which I can carry it into class, on vacation, into the doctor's office.
But the compact disc is why I fell flat-on-my-face in love with my first albums. Thanks to the compact disc, I'm holding on to memories. Holding a finger through one, two, sometimes six at a time.
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