I'm in a state of total obsession. Following four changes of laptops and a complete hard-drive crash, my iTunes music collection is severely corrupted. For you Luddites out there, that doesn't mean that I have loads of Take That and Boney M in my music library (although I do have some of each and will defend my choices until I die, "Back for Good" and "Sunny" are pop masterpieces). It means that when I start to play songs, lots of them cut out halfway through, usually just as I'm reaching chorus climax in my car and I'm left screeching out loud to an ambient soundtrack. This has recently persuaded several unfortunate occupants of cars neighbouring me, in the perpetual traffic jam that is the M40, that I am a nutter.
I've had enough. So, with the purchase of a new, sexy, matt-black MacBook, I've started the process of rebuilding my library from scratch, by feeding all my CDs into it, one by painful one. I think I have about 2,000 CDs. Of these, at any one time, I probably only regularly listen to... 10 or 20, and these are ignored the moment I get a new album to listen to. I'm a voracious listener and am constantly get hooked on something that I play to death.
Right now I'm burning a hole in Sufjan Stevens' exceptional album, Illinoise. This is a guy who has decided to make one album for each state of America. When I first heard about this, it sounded like some novelty PR stunt and I was sure that he'd be rubbish. In fact, although he's got a little stuck in the Midwestern states, he is close to that over-used word, "genius". The song "John Wayne Gacy Jr", an eerily beautiful ditty about a clown-faced serial killer, is the most played song in the history of my iTunes. It scores a quite frighteningly obsessive 170 plays, and that doesn't include my iPod.
Every waking moment of my life is now spent in front of my laptop with a huge pile of CDs on my right (not yet in) and an even huger pile on my left (in). Sometimes, on the rare occasions when I leave the house, Stacey cleans up and moves the piles. I come back and start divorce proceedings while wiping away the tears of frustration. I'm about 400 CDs in and the doubts are starting to set in. Do I really need more than one Miles Davis album? I know that technically, I should love him, but I don't really. I pose and put it on when it's sunny and there are people having drinks in the garden as it sounds both classy and cool, but surely one is enough? What about Spandau Ballet's greatest hits collection? I do love the song "True" and even have a tiny passion for their contribution to the Northern Irish debate - "Through The Barricades". But "Musclebound", "Gold"... when am I going to listen to them? Moments before suicide, perhaps? Let's have a look at my right-hand pile: Therapy?, Essential Skint, Slade, Future Sound Of London, Alison Moyet (what? - oh, phew, that's Stacey's), Monster Magnet... who the hell are Monster Magnet? Maybe I could just ignore these and move on quicker. But I can't, everything must be in my laptop, must... have... more... music. I'm up to 10 solid days' worth and I want a month at least.
When I put my iPod on random shuffle it sometimes plays a song of unbelievable beauty that I've never even heard before. It's hidden away on a CD that I just bought for one particular song. When I'm in an edit trying to think of what to use as a soundtrack on my TV shows, I love skimming through my library trying to find the perfect song to help some less than perfectly funny moment slip past the viewer as they're lulled into insouciance by the tune.
I love music and need to possess it all: everything that's ever been recorded (except maybe drum and bass). I have a Leo Sayer album for christ's sake!
Got to go now, must feed the beast. What's next? Ah yes, Tahiti 80, Wallpaper for the Soul - another undiscovered classic. Eat my beauty, eat...
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