Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Booked up and overmusicated

Generally, my Christmas wish list consists of two things:  books and music. This year was no different, and left me with an unforeseen bonanza.

When the presents were unwrapped yesterday, I was left holding three books from my list — The Humbling by Philip Roth, Under the Dome by Stephen King, and Invisible by Paul Auster — as well as a biography of Teddy Roosevelt as our naturalist president (courtesy of my daughter), and the sensational book of this fun little London art project (courtesy of a friend who eerily completely understands my tastes). (The new biography of Churchill was also on my list but didn’t arrive under the tree.)

I also put one music CD on my list, Some Girls by the Rolling Stones.  I’m not a fan of those rolling fellows, but I did remember liking that album, which I had in its original lawsuit version 30 years ago. Because my new car links with my iPhone, allowing the stereo to play whatever music I’ve imported, I’ve been thinking about music I’d like to hear in the car, and recently I thought of this album, which I never bought on CD. So I put it on my list.

The surprise, though, was this:  My friend Trey, who joined us for Christmas, remembered that he had something in the trunk of his car that he wanted to show me. No, it wasn’t Jimmy Hoffa — it was about 300 CDs from his sister, who had successfully  completed importing all her CDs onto iPods or somesuch and was no itching to unload the clutter of cases. She’d given them all to Trey, and he was offering to share them with me:  Have some, burn some into my computers, whatever. So Trey and my son Lex and I spent an hour or two going through CD cases while I cooked Christmas dinner. (Turkey and all the trimmings, so there was plenty of time.)

In the boxes, I found:

  • numerous Chemical Brothers CDs
  • three Nine Inch Nails CDs
  • the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • lots of house and trance music
  • Stereolab
  • some Brian Eno-produced CDs
  • Tool
  • Coverdale Page
  • Moby
  • Radiohead

and lots of other things that interest me. Soon I had towering stacks of CDs that I wanted to put on my laptop for possible transfer to my iPhone. But of course, here’s what happened: Where just an hour before I’d had one new CD, Some Girls, to import and enjoy, now I had, potentially hundreds. One new CD was special, a few would have been novel, but 300 were overwhelming. Worse, they robbed each other of their distinctiveness. By the time I had imported just a few of the CDs, I was looking through to see what to cut:  Suddenly, these R.E.M.disks didn’t look like their finest worksongs, the idea of importing three Nine Inch Nails CDs really made me hurt, and I almost said nevermind to a Nirvana disk I somehow didn’t have. After importing 15 or 20 disks, I looked at what was left and decided I’d pick five — and no more — put them on my laptop, and from there, put what of those I wanted onto my iPhone, and then return to the real world. Because if I didn’t winnow all these down to something manageable, this would wind up becoming another project, and that’s something I don’t need any more of.

So, a couple of hours later, I packed all the CDs back away and was finished with the ordeal of too much new music and was just about to shut down my laptop when I saw one last CD — the one I’d asked for for Christmas. Brand new and almost forgotten. So I imported one more CD, and thought it sounded pretty good.

2 Responses to “Booked up and overmusicated”

  1. Uncle Rich Says:

    My Christmas list was mostly books, music and movies. This year I got the third volume of Popeye comic strips. Reading them makes it obvious why they were so popular when they originally appeared. I was also given a CD of Yo-Yo Ma playing the movie music of Ennio Morricone. I love this composer’s work — being re-thought by John Zorn or orchestrated by himself as on this new release.

    And I got a new travel mug that’s supposed to not leak when it falls over, the way my old one does.

  2. Dan Says:

    Hey Rich, I’ll trade ya: my dvd set of the complete TV series THE DEPUTY for your Popeye strips.

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