My wife and I were both raised by construction working fathers. We were discussing nostalgic things the other day and I struggled to say what I wanted just the right way and then she said it for me. She said, "There is nothing like the taste of saw dust in soda." Sometimes I think she ought to be the writer. Nostalgia always hits accompanied by a feeling of loss, something that can not be reclamed. In this case childhood. You can work in the garage and drink saw dusty Dr. Pepper, but that doesn't bring back carefree days.
One thing that I miss are CD's. Yes, even with the convenience of my whole catilogue at my fingertips via iPod, I miss purchasing, unpackaging, and admiring a new CD.
My first CD (not counting Anamaniacs) was Hotel California. Owning the disc meant there were nine fewer songs I needed to request on 103.5, nine fewer songs to wait for with my index finger hoovering over the record button for my mix tape, and nine fewer songs that had some off-key DJ singing the last line. That fist CD was beautiful, they all were.
I remember browsing in Greywhale, waiting for the perfect album to jump out. I could always tell. It spoke to me. I held it again in the car, the plastic bag I'd carried it from the store in discarded on the passenger seat. There was something satisfying about picking off the plastic wrapping and struggling with those super adhesive stickers on either edge. The CD would stay unmolested in its case while I read the booklet front to back. Only then would I put it in the player.
When there were only CD's the order of the tracks and the mood presented by each one was important for a perfect record.
Then burned CD's became big, none of us realizing what we were losing. I remember being jarred when an odd song would play after a remembered favorite. It sucked to have Misery off the Beatles' Please Please Me end, to already be geared to sing along with Anna (Go To Him), and be rudely interupted by Abba or something.
By the time I realized something was lost it was too late (not that I could have done anything anyway). It hit home one day while I hung out with a cousin. We all had our own huge car case to keep the discs in one spot. It was sad to see ugly gray discs outnumbering the glossy albums. Then my cousin pulled all of his empty cases off a shelf and threw them all in a garbage bag. He pulled the sleeves from in front of the discs in his giant case and threw those away too. I panicked and was never able to do that myself. I'm still a bit mad about it when I remember.
Things got a bit better with the iPod. I mean the cover image would pull up with the song. But that's like drinking saw dust infested soda. It does not revive the art of the album. How many times did I buy a CD for one song and only a few days later that song was my least favorite? It was the best way to discover new music.
I'll never get my childhood back, or CD's, but I found something better. I'm obsessed with vinyl. I went into Greywhale on a limb and came out with Mumford and Son's Sigh No More on Vinyl! I had the same feeling of long ago, but with more class. I bought a record player from the DI, rebuilt it, and was set. Now I have everything from The Wing's Band on the Run to Johnny Mathis' Greatest Hits to The National's High Violet.