by Erik van Rheenen, edited by Jesse Richman This is a story about a boy and his headphones, and it opens in the grey days of autumn, two years ago. When I stepped out of the bleak, wind-whipped…
After reading this article about how we listen to music I was inspired to write about my journey through music formats and listening habits.
Having begun my music collection just as CDs came onto the scene and were still battling their way through the market against cassettes I ended up with a few tapes before moving over completely. The two that I originally wore out were Classic Queen and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which led to my favorite of his, Dangerous. I would also record the most requested songs on WHFS onto a blank tape here and there as well. I distinctly remember “Pretty Noose” by Soundgarden being one of those hits that grabbed me quite a bit during those days. Follow The Leader by Korn and Exit Planet Dust by The Chemical Bros were the last albums I bought on tape, leading to a massive collection of CDs down the road.
My grandmother, Rose, bought us all a few CDs from one of those monthly club type deals when we were kids, of which I started my collection with Guns and Roses Use Your Illusion II and Weezer’s blue album, the latter of which I still listen to today. I also remember her taking us to Record Town in Harundale Mall and buying me DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s Homebase album. I sort of had an idea at the time that I was into music but I had no idea how much of my existence it would dominate until much later. In 1999 my family went to Aruba over the summer for a week and I distinctly remember only bringing two CDs with me, which today I find to be blasphemy. Those albums were Limp Bizkit’s Significant Other and Blink 182’s Enema Of The State, again the latter of which I’m still really into. I started to realize how obsessive I could be about music, and how much I loathed the format of CDs. The reason being that I could only carry 200 of them in a big case in my car, and once that one was full I had to buy another one and it just got to be ridiculous trying to pick a CD to listen to flipping through those giant books, 4 to a page.
Just as I was starting to finish a second book of 200some CDs the mp3 player came into existence. The iPods of the day didn’t hold as much music as I wanted to, so I started out with an Archos hard drive based player that held 20GB of music. This was around the time I became obsessed with the first two From Autumn To Ashes albums and a .hopesfall. album called The Satellite Years. I would go to Record and Tape Traders every Tuesday and spend around $80. This went on for about five years. I would work a half day, go to the record store, then immediately go home and rip the albums to mp3 and put them on my device. After getting the next generation of that same Archos player that held 40GB I saved my money up to get my first iPod, because they finally had one that held as much music as I thought I could ever listen to.The 60GB iPod Photo cost $600 and I somehow came up with that and filled that sucker up with every album from Ferret Records, Solid State, Victory Records and Trustkill Records, whose balls I was clinging very tightly to at the time.
As time went along, iPods grew in size to 80GB, 120GB and 160GB all of which I’m sure I owned, filled up and/or broke from over use. Around this time I discovered scrobbling, which is using software and the website last.fm to keep track of your listening habits. Everyone on the Sputnik Music forums did this so it was obviously the coolest thing anyone could possibly ever do. I would use software on my laptop to keep track of everything, and I’d plug in my iPod every few days for it to read all of the play counts and I’d read my charts every week. I was/am obsessed.
Eventually I got into smartphones, which became another huge obsession of mine with a small overlap that I’m going to explain. I could scrobble live to last.fm whatever I was listening to and it would go right to my last.fm page instantly even if I were on 95 driving to Florida or something. This became the new coolest thing that anyone could be doing in my opinion so I eventually sacrificed having 160GB of music with me all the time for having my charts update live and eventually having it show on my facebook page also that I was listening to this or that at any given time. I’ve gone from multiple generations of Evos, Galaxy Notes and Nexuses to a Sony Xperia Z Ultra with 16GB built in and a 128GB microSD card full of music with the artwork showing in full HD mounted in my car while I’m driving or bouncing in my pocket while I jog. I can even skip tracks, pause or change the volume with my Pebble smartwatch without having to touch the phone or headphones. While at home I use Airtunes/Airplay to stream music from my laptop to any combination of 4 different rooms/speaker systems which also scrobbles live to my last.fm page. If I’m on a desktop computer away from home I can use Chrome Remote Desktop and listen through my iTunes that way as well. All so I can look at the end of the month/year/decade and see that I’m apparently really into Between The Buried And Me, Architects, and Every Time I Die.
I’m not enough of an audiophile to care that mp3s don’t sound as good as CDs or vinyl or whatever you’re into. I really just need to be able to put on a particular album at any given time no matter where I am, and digitally stored music allows me to do that. It lets me discover new music at a ridiculous rate. I probably get around 10 albums a week when I’m really going and at least 5 from bands I’m already into if I’m slacking off. This has led to me having 363 gigabytes of music as of this writing. Like the article that inspired me to write this said, the way we listen to music matters. He had a pair of headphones for two years that he used constantly, unfortunately for me my lifestyle doesn’t permit me to use headphones all that often. I do have a pair of Beats Tour earbuds that sound great to me, and a pair of Sony ones that came with my Xperia that actually stay in place while I jog. For him people would always see him with those headphones around his neck, for me I’m sure people are more likely to notice the gigantic almost tablet bulging from my pocket instead, holding all of my favorite albums and some random brand new mathcore or slam death metal albums that I may delete in a few months. Either way, I’m obsessed.