This morning I was sitting on the bus, listening to <nme mode>Wildhearts’ frontman Ginger’s confessional rock opus Valor Del Corazon</nme mode> (because nothing says ‘commute’ like a double album about your wife leaving you on account of your heroin habit), thinking about the differences between CDs and mp3s. And how heroin habits are a bit of a bad idea. And various other stupid things… but mainly about CDs and mp3s.
Last night iTunes suddenly decided to delete half my carefully downloaded album artwork. At first I was quite irate, because I’d spent ages finding it all so it would show up on my ipod. But after some thought, it started to feel like iTunes was trying to enlighten me. I still buy CDs, even though I just rip them straight onto iTunes and stack them up in the corner. It feels somehow more like I’ve got a handle on the music if I physically own it, and getting the artwork onto iTunes felt like a link to this physical medium.
Well shame on me for trying to cling to the old ways! Shame on bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers for moaning about people downloading their music, instead of embracing the new ways! When we get fixated on album art, sleevenotes and so on we’re just not getting it – CDs and record sleeves aren’t music, music is music and it’s something that only ever really exists in the air and in the mind. That’s why the abstraction of going digital is so appropriate – it frees the music.
So maybe next time I get the urge to download more album art and lyrics for my collection, I’ll just stop and listen to the music itself.