Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Still adding to my music collection

I wouldn't say that music has ever played a big role in my life. I certainly like plenty of  classical pieces, some opera arias of course, and I enjoy listening to an eclectic mix of pop songs that were, for decades, the casual soundtrack to my life.

But I have no instrument-playing ability whatever, despite occasional strange dreams of being a virtuosa violinist.

And I'm not much interested in live music, as performed in pubs and similar venues. I might politely come to a gig with you, but my attention will wander, and at some point I will definitely feel that I'd rather be doing something else, such as enjoying a yummy meal in a restaurant.

As for huge festival events like Glastonbury, these have always been a complete turn-off for me. Especially if they involve crowds, and noise, and chaos, and mud, and insanitary conditions of any sort. No thank you! I wouldn't attend one at any price, not even if you offered me free tickets. I mean that. I long ago decided that I wouldn't be interested in free tickets to the Wimbledon Tennis Final, nor the World Cup Final, nor anything connected with the Olympic Games. Likewise, even a Resurrection Concert featuring all four Beatles playing together again wouldn't tempt me. I'd refuse the tickets, or rip them up, and simply walk away, my music credentials intact.  (The crass credentials of someone who knows nothing about music, I mean)

So it's a bit odd, I admit, that I put any effort at all into perfecting the collection of mp3 tracks installed on my PC, phone and tablet. Moreover, what you might consider a 'perfect' collection, and what I do, are probably not the same thing. I'm after the last hundred or so tracks that will fill the gaps in that 'background soundtrack to my life' mentioned above, and most of these tracks are barrel-scrapingly obscure, and rarely heard now. They were not cool at the time, and are now so mouldy and dreadful that the most merciful thing might be to leave them in the vault. In fact I don't know anyone else who would do what I am now going to do, which is to mention some of them.

Lots of these tracks have already been disinterred, their mummy-wrappings unwound, and the withered corpse left to ming inside my phone. Such classics as Puff, the Magic Dragon by Peter, Paul and Mary; Downtown by Petula Clark; Love's Just a Broken Heart by Cilla Black; Lydia by Dean Friedman; and Rasputin by Boney M.

Too much information already? It gets worse. I've recently formed the opinion that I'll need to buy more mp3 tracks than I thought. Songs like:

My Old Man's a Dustman by Lonnie Donegan.
Wonderful Land by The Shadows.
Crying in the Chapel by Elvis Presley. 
Black is Black by Los Bravos.
Go Now by the Moody Blues.
Gentle on My Mind by Dean Martin.
It's Getting Better by Mama Cass.
Govinda by the Radha Krishna Temple. 
Bangladesh by George Harrison.
Knock, Knock, Who's There? by Mary Hopkin. 
Bye Bye Baby by the Bay City Rollers.
She by Charles Aznavour.
It Don't Come Easy by Ringo Starr.
Don't You Want Me, Baby? by the Human League.

I'll say no more, not wishing to provoke too much disgust and horror.

It's Amazon's fault really. I thought it was impossible to find a good source for these zombie-like tracks, the Undead of our Musical Heritage. But Amazon sell music, and they have a vast mp3 collection, rivalled (I believe) only by iTunes. And priced at 69p to 89p per track - which makes grave-robbing an affordable passtime. And curiously fascinating. It makes you wonder who owns these songs, and why Amazon thought they could ever sell them in quantity, enough to cover what they paid for the rights. I hope they're not relying on me!

Not every artist or band of yore has songs that can be purchased. Copyright problems and suchlike can make their output inaccessible. For instance, I'm wondering when the Dave Clark Five's output will be released. Lots of lively foot-stomping stuff there. Glad All Over, Bits and Pieces. Can't wait.


  1. Lucy, you have crowbared open some long lost memories there! have to admit there are a few on your list that I would quite like to hear again though I am not sure that even at that price I would start collecting many. Have you checked out the compilation boxes on the shelves at this time of year, they are often filled with obscure tracks...

    My holiday tapes and ten CDs for the car were usually cheery pop from the ancient past, so varied and memorable. I remember thinking as a teenager that pop would grow with us as we aged but little new pop engages so thoughts wander back to my youth too.

    One of the wonders of the age is that a button sized pink device holds all my old pop for journeys now.

  2. Buying compilation CDs has become unfruitful now, as there's very rarely anything on them that isn't already among the 1,300-odd tracks in my Creme-de-la-creme mp3 Collection. That's why I've taken to buying tracks one by one from Amazon, if they are available.

    I too am amazed that tiny modern devices can store so much, and play it back so well.

    It's a sobering thought how much we spent in the past on vinyl, tapes and CDs, and the associated equipment, before we reached the present position. It looks however as if we are both still behind the times, because I take it that your music (like mine) has 'physical reality' in that it was ripped off CDs or downloaded, and actually stored on your PC and other devices. The really modern way is to own and store nothing, just have a subscription to a music service and have the stuff streamed to you on demand. Like rain off the Cloud, as it were.


  3. I use to collect records at one time but for many years now I haven't bothered, I simply lost interest. For quite a few years I stopped playing music of any kind as often I would get emotional just listening to it. I love music of all genres but I have favourites, classical, heavy and soft rock, blues and jazz. I too was never interested in gigs and live music and that hasn't changed. Lucy, you have a tablet do you not? Why buy music when you can get it free? Try this site It is a 'radio' station where you can choose, genre, artists and have different channels for each. They play tracks according to your 'likes' which you can add to your favourites and select whether they should play it more often or not. You can use your tablet to connect to the Internet for playing in-car through 'Bluetooth' perhaps or just through the tablet itself. It's worth a look anyway. I sometimes have it playing in the background on my laptop.

    Shirley Anne x

  4. I had a look at Jango, Shirley Anne, but it didn't appeal. For tablet use, it does of course depend on a wi-fi signal, and really that limits it to the home, and in particular to places around the home where the tablet can be conveniently used. Most of my music listening is done in the bathroom, where I wouldn't take the tablet.

    I agree that Jango would work on the phone, as an alternative to a personal music collection. But I like having such a collection. Besides, my collection is 90% complete, and I can stand the cost of completing it.



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