Years ago we took all our hundreds of CDs out of their jewel cases and put them in vinyl sleeves. This saved an enormous amount of space and weight when we were moving – what took tens of shelves to store now fit in a couple small boxes. And as we were doing that, we ripped a lot of those CDs to MP3, but not all.

And, for six years, music has been sitting in the closet, out of sight. Not out of mind. Wouldn’t that bother you? It bothered me, from time to time anyway. What am I missing? I never ripped that Buddy Miller CD? There was a persistent and bothersome hole in my digital collection exactly the same shape as that first full-length Sonic Youth record (which I can’t stand, but dammit, I know I have it) !

It bothered Mrs, too. A few months back, she went through the boxes of CDs, pulled out all of her stuff, ripped what she wanted and then threw them out. I cringed at the last step.

But this week I finally went through the remainder and ripped all the CDs that hadn’t been ripped already.

There were a lot fewer than I had imagined: 78 in all. I was expecting twice that. What wasn’t surprising was that there were very very few that I think I will ever listen to. The only thing really interesting thing to me was a Peel Session CD from The Cure that I bought at a dingy little basement record store in Aachen Germany, December ’88. Then there were the dozen classical CDs that my father must have dumped on me. There were several CDs of bands we saw once, while on vacation somewhere. CD singles from the early 90s. Junk from junk bands. Least-favorite records from favorite bands. Friends’ bands. CDs from bands I’d heard good things about then realized I’d been mislead.

But I ripped them all, because it would be wrong to have those 780 songs sitting in the closet, never even having a chance of being scrolled past in the Sonos app. Now I can see them and remember where and why I got them, even if I never want to hear them. Satisfaction abounds.

I can’t bring myself to throw the actual CDs out though. That feels like a sin.

3 thoughts on “Completism

  1. Proportionwheel

    I’ve long since ripped all mine not to mp3 but to FLAC, to keep the full resolution. They sound noticeably better played through VOX and a $100 outboard D>A converter than they do from my old CD player. But now I find I want another computer just to play them, because it’s inconvenient to tie up the macbook by plugging it into the D>A converter. And no, I can’t bring myself to throw the CDs away, even though I never play them anymore.

    1. cleek Post author

      i used to use a cheap mini laptop to run iTunes into my stereo. but iTunes got bigger and slower and glitchier, to the point where it just wouldn’t run on the laptop. that’s when i tossed the laptop, packed up the stereo, converted everything to MP3 and went all Sonos.

  2. Rob Caldecott

    I have 500 CDs that have been in boxes since 2008 but I am loathed to throw them away. I ripped them all (twice) 12 years ago but since Spotify I don’t even listen to the rips (though they are safe in the cloud and on various drives around the place.) We moved house last year and I toyed with buying a decent amp and CD player and getting those 500 CDs into racks. But streaming is just so convenient that I decided it was a waste of money and space. So those dusty boxes remain in the garage and the decision on what to do with them is deferred until we move house again I guess. One day CDs will be like vinyl today and my grandchildren will be in awe of my awesome collection I guess. So there’s that to look forward to.

    (Also if I did get back into CDs I’d want to buy remastered versions of some of my favourites – the 2005 Taking Heads remasters are fucking great so there’s a good chunk of money to start with. It’s a slippery slope.)

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