When was the last time you bought a cd? I don’t mean music. That’s easy. I mean tried to buy an actual cd. Ya know, the small, shiny disc that comes in a clear case that holds a booklet with the performer’s picture and song credits. Yeah. That.
I am such a big fan of the British soul/pop singer Adele that I wanted to buy her new cd, “21.” I wanted to sit it next to my other cds — mostly from the late nineties and early 2000s — and especially place it next to her first cd from 2008, “19.” I wanted to fancy myself a collector. That’s how much I like this chick’s voice.
I live in New York City. You wouldn’t think it would be that hard to find a music store. But as I set out on my journey, I realized how tricky my task would be. The two big Virgin megastores that used to be my old standbys closed almost two years ago. There are no more Sam Goodys or FYEs. Remember HMV and Tower Records? Yep, I barely remember them either.
None of what I’m saying is new, of course. But looking for Adele’s cd yesterday was the first time I ever felt firsthand what record folks, music aficionados and other bloggers have been saying for years. Online is really the only way to get new music.
There are a few record stores I know about in the city. But whenever I go in there, the hot items are older, classic albums. And by albums, I mean the big, vinyl things that require a turntable. I just wanted a simple cd.
I was dumbfounded when I realized that the only surefire place I knew would have Adele’s cd would be the Barnes & Noble in Union Square. Unbelievable. Granted, I can be a little slow on the uptake with these kinds of cultural movements. But dayum. I would have to go to a bookstore to buy a cd? That just didn’t sit right.*
My realization about the monopoly that the digital world has on music was reinforced on last night’s episode of “The Good Wife,” a CBS legal drama that I like. In the ep, a Chinese dissident who’s posted pro-democracy statements online was suing the head of the internet company that released his IP address to Chinese authorities, who then captured and tortured him.
The internet tycoon, not understanding why others didn’t see the importance of his work, eventually said: “Boundaries are disappearing. China. North Korea. They’re all just concepts. Concepts holding us back…from a free flow of power and information. That is the future. See, you guys, you’re just all fighting over things. You’ve got a bag of pennies when everyone else is using credit cards. Things are dead. Things are uncool.”
Hearing him say this made my blood run cold. And it made me a little angry. (I’m still trying to work out why.) It also made me feel slow and behind the times. I looked over at my Adele cd — still in the shrink wrap, mind you — and wondered if it was the last cd I would ever purchase. Hmmm…
* I know this makes me sound eighty.