May 3rd, 2012

Cartoon Chris

CD Weeding

My 300-plus CD collection used to have about 30 more CDs in it. Those 30-or-so are on a high shelf, waiting for me to sell (or, barring that, donate) them somewhere Not Here. This has meant I've listened over the past several months to almost my entire collection with a more critical ear than usual, deciding what deserves to stay and what should go. Getting rid of not quite a tenth of that is actually a heck of an achievement for Packrat-Me.

Some albums, while still good, weren't listening experiences I still wanted, like the genuinely sad Rachel Portman score to 2008's costume drama The Duchess or Aimee Mann's songs for 1999's Magnolia. (Learned a few years ago when I was weeding through my parents' and grandparents' eclectic LP collection: clever songs have ridiculously unpredictable shelf lives.) I even surprised myself by deciding not to keep a John Williams score, his work for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Even though I've soured on the film over the years -- I think it's needlessly cynical and I find the cute Disney-esque moments incongruous -- I'd gotten the full score in 1998 because it is a landmark in Williams's career. But I've decided it's a landmark I have no reason to listen to again. The Close Encounters suite on By Request... The Best of John Williams and The Boston Pops Orchestra fulfills my Close Encounters needs. Musically, at least.

The re-listen made me glad I still had oddball obscurities that I won't necessarily listen to a lot, but I don't mind keeping. Christopher Young scored 1992's Rapid Fire, the Brandon Lee film that no one remembers because a) it's not that good and b) poor Brandon Lee wasn't killed making it (that would be The Crow); Young's score includes a surprisingly 1980s-style saxophone. I went "Huh?," amusedly, at that. Probably not the effect he wanted from the music, but things change in 20 years.

Some albums were pointless. At some point I'd gotten Danny Elfman's score to Men In Black II (2002). Before the re-listen, I'd listened to it maybe once. Listening to it this time, it felt like a floundering score -- like Elfman had nothing worthwhile to grab onto, dramatically. I've felt since I saw it that the film was pointless and squandered the clever set-up of the first Men In Black, but I like plenty of film scores that are for bad films; I realized this score wasn't one of them. Into the "away" pile. I get enough musically out of Elfman's first Men In Black score, which is re-listened to too and still in one of my CD racks. (I have two, one mainly for film scores, the other for rock acts.)

My Tori Amos fandom no longer extends (if it ever did) to 2006's The Beekeeper (in my opinion, her only disposable album since her spectacularly ill-advised 1988 metal album Y Kant Tori Read *). I am, however, keeping a couple of Amos albums I thought wouldn't hold up, her rather difficult 1996 work Boys For Pele (paradoxically, at the time her most commercially successful album, and which made a lot of her new listeners go "HUH?!") and 2007's American Doll Posse. I'm also still enough of a Beatles completist to even keep Let It Be...Naked and Yellow Submarine, because I still enjoy those albums, too.

I also have some half-albums. Discs where half of it's good enough for me to forgive the other half, like the soundtrack album to South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. The songs from the movie are still insanely clever, catchy, funny and worth keeping; I (mostly) don't listen to the "songs inspired by the film" half, and a re-listen reminded me why: I got earwormed on songs I hate that I'M STILL TRYING TO BANISH FROM MY HEAD. Those tracks ain't getting listened to ever again, if I can help it. But this re-listen marked the first time since 1995, while re-listening to the soundtrack album to Heat (which I'm keeping), that I've listened to the only Einsturzende Neubauten track in my collection. I survived without cupping my hands over my ears and saying "Agony agony agony..." **

I'm not changing anytime soon to post-CD music technology; these keep working for me, honestly. I like having the physical object, programmed just so (mm-hmm, I'm also still an album guy). But these CDs need to work for me. And soon some of them will work by Going Away.

* Not really Amos's fault, from what I've heard; record executives didn't know what to do with her and tried to fit her into a mold that didn't fit her at all. But my Tori-worshipping friend, the late great Mike Pearl, said some of the songs on Y Kant Tori Read were at least enjoyably cheesy. I'm not yet tempted to track down the songs to hear for myself.

** One of my many unendearing habits growing up. It wasn't enough to, say, ignore a TV commercial I hated; I'd try to drown it out so I wouldn't hear it, to the annoyance of loved ones around me. Sorry, loved ones. I'm glad I trained myself out of that.
Clay. Bill...Clay.

Doing It Wrong is FUN

"Break a leg! Here, I'll help you..." CRACK

Encouraging, innit?!

(Also, it occurs to me that that line could be from the Hunger Games if they were even more wrong.)
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