I’m old. I’m older than I used to be, but when it comes to music, I’m not a complete dinosaur. I probably listen to more music today than at any time in my life except college, and I purchase just about all of it on iTunes. In fact, I haven’t purchased a real CD in nearly two years, which isn’t exactly unusual any more, what with more than 50 percent of the music business’ sales now coming digitally. (I just assume the other 49.7 percent of sales from CDs comes from Josh Groban fans and sweet old grandmothers at Christmas time.)
But tomorrow, I’m going to get in a way-back machine and visit a “music store,” an establishment that actually sells music you can hold in your hand. (There used to be lots of them, believe it or not.) Tomorrow, Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball comes out and I feel compelled to have a tangible copy that I can hear and hold. CDs don’t have the nostalgic feel that perhaps vinyl did to those who grew up in that era, but there remains something special – to me, anyway – about being able to cradle an album, peruse the liner notes to see who plays sax, and proudly display the case among its brothers, from Greeting from Asbury Park to Working on a Dream. Back in college, Tuesday mornings – and sometimes Monday nights – were all about getting the new Smashing Pumpkins or R.E.M. before the guy down the hall. Those days are long gone, for me and the industry, but when the right album comes out from the right artist, I still feel that urge to have a version of it that I can treasure.
I assume Springsteen still sells his fair share of actual CDs (thanks, hip grandmoms), but what artist sends you back to the music store (or one of the online warehouses)? What singer or group demands a real musical artifact?