Today I bought a CD…and yes, it was a pretty big deal

Remember those things?  The little silvery disks that used to come in plastic cases and had a little booklet full of colorful images to look at while you listened to the music?

Yep, today I bought one of those.

And, I had a flashback in the process, a flashback to a time before the compact disk.  A time when music meant something.

Buying the new Robert Plant CD today felt just like it used to feel when I’d purchase the latest vinyl record album by any of my favorite musicians.

What a feeling.  There was, all those years ago, just something mystical about slitting open the cellophane and putting your nose close enough to the opening to take a whiff of that vinyl and paper treasure.

If you’re one of us, you may know where I’m about to go here.

The feel of pulling the paper sleeve out of the cardboard cover.  The sight of the virgin vinyl itself as you held it, careful not to smudge it with finger prints.  The moment when you placed the needle on the first track and sat back, relishing the newest sounds from your favorite artist.  It was even better on those big Koss headphones most of us used on a daily basis.  The kind with the huge ear pieces and the long, curly cord.

Ah, to have this happen again, and often.  But alas, the mp3 has now become the most popular way to acquire recorded music.  Sad really, for so much has been lost.

Those of us of a certain age can remember the magic and wonder of the local record store.  You would get word through a magazine or newspaper or even a television show that one of your favorite bands was soon to release a new album.  Oh, the anticipation.  A new album by your favorite band.  What would it sound like?  How would the album cover look?  What about liner notes…would there be lyrics printed or would you have to listen hard to transcribe them for yourself?  How about the label itself?  Does Columbia or Capitol or Epic still use the same graphic design?

Yes, buying actual records was a total sensory experience.  It was a feast for the eyes as well as the ears, and for those of us weird enough to sniff our records it was an olfactory feast as well.

Today, I had a taste of this very thing when I found “lullaby…and the Ceaseless Roar” by Robert Plant in the dwindling little music department at our local Barnes & Noble.  Yes, believe it or not, B&N still sells recorded music.  Not sure for how long, though, considering the stock has been halved since the last time I visited.  But still, the CD.

Mr. LaVeaux and I were shopping for magazines when we decided to walk toward the music and see what was there.  I scanned the new releases rack, not seeing anything worth listening to, until my eye fell upon the very last row.  There it was.  Robert Plant’s new album.  My heart slammed against my rib cage.  I was so excited that I was literally shaking when I picked it up.  We purchased it and I held it close to my heart in the car on the way home.

Not trying to be melodramatic here, but this was a serious experience for me.

When I got home, I put the CD on the desk by the computer.  I didn’t touch it for a little while, but then I finally decided to open the package.  Yes, I sniffed it.  The paper and ink of the booklet had a nice, crisp scent.  Yes, I looked at the label.  Have I listened to it yet?  No.  I’m waiting for the right time when I have an hour to devote to it.  I don’t consume good music mindlessly.  Something this good, I believe, needs to be savored.

How do I know it’s good if I’ve not heard it yet?  Well, that’s easy to answer.  Just this week I listened to “Rainbow,” a track off the album, and I fell in love.  Robert’s voice is as smooth as ever and his new band, the Sensational Space Shifters, sounds cosmic.  The video for “Rainbow” was nothing short of gorgeous, and it made me cry.  I just can’t listen to the rest of it until I’m ready.  Maybe tomorrow, side by side with the love of my life.

Long live Robert Plant.  Long live good music.


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