CDs, albums and BMG Music Club

Just by posting “albums” in my title, I’ve surely dated myself, but the other morning my husband mentioned the BMG Music Club, an entity I hadn’t thought of in years. As a matter of fact, we weren’t sure they were still in existence with all of the mp3 players, iPods, etc. I attempted to Google them, but came up with nothing except consumer complaints. For those of you unfamiliar with BMG Music Club, you would join the club by receiving 12 albums for free, paying only shipping and handling. 12 albums. It was like your birthday and Christmas all  rolled into one. The hardest part was selecting the 12 albums. Imagine. 12.

Of course, once you joined then you received a little packet in the mail every month with a catalog of new releases or old releases, and as a member you were required to make four (or was it three?) purchases over the next three years. Easy. Except for the fact that if you forgot to return the postcard marked either “yes, send me the featured album,” “no, do not send me anything at this time,” or “send me a different selection,” you received the featured album in the mail. It was usually something lame. Like Toni Basil’s greatest hits. Then you had to go through the hassle of sending it back. Oh, and soon you realized that you could buy the very same album for a third of the price at Sound Warehouse.

But  the albums. I kept them in an empty Steffen’s Dairy milk crate, all in alphabetical order. I used to love to sit in my room, thumbing slowly through them, sliding the vinyl record from the inner paper sleeve, and setting  it  on the turntable. There was that scratchy beginning, then music. As the music filled my bedroom,  I’d read the back cover of the album, the liner notes, or the lyrics if they were included. The album artwork became just as important with the likes of  the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Yes, Journey, The Stones, and many other infamous covers. At one time, I thought about wallpapering my room in album covers. Instead, I chose posters.

 My first album was the Beatles “Help,” followed by an Engelbert Humperdinck album. Don’t ask. All I know is that I was batting a thousand in band coolness and blew it with the latter album. Anyway, if it helps, I played the “Help” album over and over, and my dad even took a picture of me asleep with my Beatles album. I hope that makes up for owning the Engelbert vinyl. Besides, I was only five or six years old. I was just acquiring a musical taste. I’d like to think it improved with age.

I don’t know how many albums I owned over the years. I filled a few crates.  I do remember I bought my first CD in 1989. It was hard for me to transition from albums and cassette tapes to CDs. The main reason being I had to buy a stereo with CD capability and I had to slowly trade my milk crates filled with albums and four double-sided cassette cases for CDs. Albums to cassettes was easy because you could record your albums to cassette. No loss of music in that transition. But there were no home CD burning capabilities, or none I could afford, especially album  or cassette to CD, so I was stuck with buying a new CD outright. I now have too many CDs, most of which spill from the four-sided, ten-level CD tower and the extra storage drawer. The albums are tucked safely in the basement, still in their milk crates. The cassettes are down to one case.

So where am I now? Now I’m trying to decide if I’m ready to make that transition from CD to iPod.  A complete transition which would eliminate the CD tower, CDs, and our old stereo. I don’t think I’m ready. While the extra space in our living room would be awesome, I get so attached to anything tangible.  You can’t hold a downloaded CD in your hand and read the liner notes. You can’t run your finger along the spines of the jewel cases as you search for the right tunes.

In the long run, I know I will move forward. I’ll download all my CDs into mp3 format, purchase a stereo with iPod capabilities, and possibly buy a bigger couch and end table. But then what? Where do we go from there? Since history seems to repeat itself and trends seem to reappear, I think I’ll  be keeping those milk crates.

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