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a life for two hundred November 4, 2009

Posted by eatnorthamerica in things that are not quite things we know.

Elton John keeps playing on the radio when I use the washroom at work. Three for three, these last two days.

My mother had a collection of songs by Elton John, recorded by various other people who were sometimes better and sometimes worse than Elton John. At ten, at eleven, I pored over the CD cover insert, wondering about the stories that went along with each song, and why Wilson Phillips did a better job of singing Daniel than Elton ever did.

I hardly ever buy CDs, now. Gone’s the day when I used to fear tracking a greasy smear over a fold of glossy sleeve paper. Lost, long gone, dearly departed. The world at your fingertips. Too easy, like everything these days. If you don’t make a substantial effort to be entertaining or entertained, you end up really bored. Danger, danger. We’re so cool.

My friend, a neophyte record collector, just drove off to somewhere nowhere in BC to pick up 2,500 records, the sum total of a man’s life in music. Imagine that, trading the songs of a lifetime for a mere 200 dollars, a paltry amount, less than 10 cents a record — what drives a man to that? I wonder if the old fogey who sold them bought an iPod to replace the records you can’t even find catalogued on the internet — the internet, for chrissakes. Some of them date back to 1905. Think about it. That’s older than anyone I know. It gladdens my heart that there are still people who worship the outmoded, that there are people who journey hundreds of miles to collect a pile of records that some people happily sell for a dime.

Low junk, high art, a little bit of both. Perhaps the stories we all leave in marginalia — those are all we are, after we leave, and pass on.