I own a lot of CDs. Compact Discs. That musical invention that came out after the cassette yet before ITunes was created. The thin, round donut-looking disc that used to cost like $21.99 at The Wall yet only had 12 songs on it. But you begrudgingly paid that astronomical amount because that was the ONLY way to get your music unless you taped it off the radio (Guilty). The CD usually came with a sweet booklet with the song lyrics (if you were lucky) and a couple of snazzy photos of the band/artist. Of course, the minute you took out the CD, it usually got scratched which made 30 seconds into song 2 sound like a dizzying techno version. You learned to live through that though.
I remember my first CD like it was yesterday. Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. I didn’t really know or like her yet but my cousin got it for me so I knew it had to be cool. As if this was planned, my parents bought me my first boom box that year. To replace my pink cassette player, I received a GIGANTIC neon purple and silver CD player WITH a radio AND a cassette player (in case I wanted to tape anything off the radio). To have all three options in one device, I couldn’t have been more overjoyed.
The boom box got retired several years later when I was given my first stereo system. The huge, black, hulking stereo that took up a whole shelf on my bookcase. I had to use my desk chair to put CDs in but that inconvenience was nothing compared to the thrill I felt when I put THREE (Count ‘em..THREE) CDs in at once. No more getting up every hour to change the CD for this girl! I was officially in heaven.
The days of recording off the radio and listening to cassettes that sounded like they were from the 1950s was over. I was fully in compact disc mood and would remain in there for most of my youth.
When music downloading became big in late ‘98/’99 I found myself overwhelmed by all the possibilities that came to light. I can now download all the bands whose CD I couldn’t find anywhere! I dove into illegal music downloading with a vengeance only an awkward, young, music obsessed tween could have.
I spent all my waking hours when I wasn’t in school under an itchy blanket in my near Arctic basement downloading every song ever recorded by all my favorite artists. Back in the day of low speed dial up, one song could take 5 hours to download. But not only did this not deter me, it made me that much more determined. I was going to download the entire Newfound Glory album before it came out in stores if it took me 18 hours in my dank basement. Why spend $21.99 of my hard earned birthday money at The Wiz when I can dedicate 18 hours of my Saturday to downloading 11 two minute long songs? Never underestimate an 11 year old girl with no social life.
The only problem that arose (minus my mom kicking me off line every time she made a phone call which was oh…every five minutes) was how do I transfer this music onto a disc? Being the only one in my family who dedicated myself on how to use a computer, I didn’t really know how to go about this. I tried putting the music on a floppy disk but it just never worked. So I was stuck. Then one of the greatest inventions ever came my way just in time for the Christmas season. That’s correct….I am talking about the CD burner.
I’m not sure when exactly CD burners came on the scene. Probably a good five years before we got one. But with the amount of music me and my brother were downloading, not only was our computer slower than shit, we got a different virus every day. So to have a device where we could essentially take our stolen music, burn it to a CD, and then delete the file; well let’s just say not only did it make our computer faster but it made my Dad a lot less angry.
I was burning CDs faster than a sweatshop. I made CDs for every occasion and gave them out like gifts. I even got fancy for a while and bought a label maker and designed my own labels for the CDs. After a couple of them I realized I was too lazy and not artistically talented. I lived in my world of illegal music and awesome CDs for the good part of my teenage-hood. Until lo and behold, another technological advance was right on the horizon.
I had gone through about 5 portable CD players and was sick of buying new ones. That’s when I saw a girl at school had a CD player that played MP3 CDs too. Which means it could play up to 200 songs and display the titles of every song. It was my wet dream. I received one for X-Mas and was stoked for about…5 months. My dreams dissipated when the now generation-defying Ipod made its debut at my high school in late 2002.
To think that a little device such as that Ipod could hold all my songs AND fit in my pocket was too much for my 14 year old mind to comprehend. I was so used to lugging first the Walkman and then the Discman around that just the thought of an Ipod deemed incomprehensible.
I’ll admit it took me a couple of years to come around. As convenient and awesome as the Ipod seemed..I wasn’t ready to let go of my CDs yet. I still enjoyed buying and making them and having a physical item in my possession of my favorite artists’ music. I didn’t like the thought that if my computer were to crash (which it did…weekly) all my songs would be lost.
My first iPod that I received coincided with the day my dad changed from dial up to Optimum Online. Some of my friends had Optimum and just the thought that it wouldn’t take 15 minutes to connect to the Internet was the best thing since the invention of the dollar menu at Mickey D’s. I treaded lightly with my new Ipod (the big X-Mas gift of ’05) and spent most of my Christmas vacation organizing and re-organizing my ITunes. I downloaded the album covers to feel as if I wasn’t a complete sell out. By the end of my Christmas break, I was sold.
To this day I still have my first Ipod and use it on a daily basis. I can’t really picture taking my Sony Discman to the gym and when I bought my car, I was astounded to see it had a cassette player. My music journey from the cassette to the Ipod has only made my love for music stronger. And the fact that it is easily accessible and cheap doesn’t hurt either. I now see where my parents are coming from when they are reluctant to give in to technology. It was a hard transition to make but completely worth it. I still buy CDs if I really love the band and I am a huge fan of mixed CDs. Now, if only I would have known nine ago that downloading a CD could take less than a minute, there would have been a lot less holes in the wall.