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My Departing CD Collection

Above: My kids created this very accurate photo of me.

I will start selling off most of my CD collection Tuesday, 1/17/23 at 10AM Pacific. I will post the link to the list (and ordering instructions) on this blog at that date and time.

There will be many highly sought-after collectibles offered at fair prices, but only one copy of each—so if you want something popular, be here at 10AM and send your order (email to me) QUICK. I am doing first-come, first-served!

In fact, you might want to make a list for yourself beforehand of the things you especially want. PLEASE DON’T SEND IT TO ME NOW! But the spreadsheet I post will be searchable, and you can quickly look up what you want (and email me to place your orders) to save time.

A few people have written to say that it’s a shame I’m doing this, or offering their sympathies. And to be sure, I’ve experienced many emotions as I’ve organized and boxed up the CDs.

There’s no way I could do this if I didn’t have kids.

Let me explain: My real life change (and mindset change) happened eight and a half years ago, when our twins were about to be born. Needing room in our then-tiny townhouse in Los Feliz, I ripped my entire CD collection to iTunes, and boxed it all up. It was in La-La Land Records’ storage backroom for a few years (thanks MV and Matt!) and then, when they needed the space back, I moved it under the stairs in our current house. My wife, to her credit, has been a trooper about that.

The collection is probably 30–40% of what it originally was. Back in 2014, I had hundreds (if not thousands) of score CDs, promos, compilations and song albums that, honestly, I only had because they were mailed to us during the long time when Film Score Monthly was active as a magazine. I never listened to them. I sold off a bunch in bulk, and gave away many more. (But again, I did rip them all to iTunes.)

Checking my iTunes library: I have 166,799 items. I don’t mean to brag—I don’t even know if that’s considered a lot.

But what’s interesting is that 115,306 (around 70%) show ZERO PLAYS. Meaning I’ve never once finished listening to them (if I even started).

Some are famous, just not to my taste. Some are, well, pretty lame. Some are redundant files (like reference tracks of various album projects) distorting the stats.

But the sad truth of anything (books, movies, paintings, whatever) is that we only really pay attention to the elite, best-of-the-best.

Anyway, this is not emotional—and I wanted to delve into the emotions of it today.

The emotional discovery I made over the past nine years is that, living with all this stuff boxed up and pretty much inaccessible—but with all the music ripped to iTunes—I found I almost never needed to dig out the physical packaging.

So what’s the difference if I sell it?

I will, by the way, be holding onto around 600 CDs. These include everything Barry, Fielding, Goldsmith and Williams. But there will still be some interesting duplicate items available for sale.

I’ve also held onto sentimental favorites, and there were a lot of them: weird cult albums, favorite scores, favorite films, things I wrote liner notes to over the past 30 years.

But I found it easier than I thought to let go of most of it. It’s funny in that I just watched Top Gun: Maverick, which has that great scene with Iceman: “It’s time to let go.” Yes, it is.

I also have a lot of mixed feelings because I’m very happy today with my wife and kids. Life has a lot of fulfillment. In contrast, looking back at my twenties and thirties, I loved my work with FSM—but on a personal level, I was not particularly happy.

Going through the collection, I found I had a sentimental attachment to discs I got when I was a teenager, back on Martha’s Vineyard or at Amherst: the Bay Cities Jerry Fielding albums, for example.

But things that we obtained later on...well, I didn’t care so much. I’m just not that nostalgic about being in a dingy office in Culver City packing boxes until midnight.

Also, as I get older, I find myself considering the possibility that if something were to happen to me, the last thing I want is my wife and family having to figure out what to do with all this stuff. So downsizing feels like a responsible thing to do.

As I was handling the actual CDs, and boxing them up (maybe for the last time)—physically touching them, looking them over, I did have a variety of thoughts and feelings.

I became very proud that all this stuff exists! Hundreds of great, classic film and TV scores that we always fantasized listening to—and, well, we now have them. It’s a triumph!

I’m also filled with gratitude that I had the early career that I did (even though in hindsight I wasn’t particularly happy during it): so many interesting experiences and chances to meet great composers and filmmakers I admired.

And, as a perk, I was given almost all of these CDs as promos by the labels. Don’t think for one second I took that for granted! I am very well aware that I’m selling things now (to finance my film productions) that were given to me for free (to review, promote, etc., which I did).

I reached out to one of the label heads to give a heads up I was doing this—hoping he wouldn’t be pissed—and he was like, “Sure, dude, of course we understand.”

So I hope all of them feel that way…although I’m a little afraid to ask.

So let me just publicly say that the primary reason I felt okay stopping the FSM label was that my former competitors were doing such fantastic work: Intrada, La-La Land, Kritzerland, Quartet, Varèse Sarabande, and others which have started up

They’re the best, I am happy to promote them and continue to promote them—always!

The last thing I want to mention is also the most important: Boxing this stuff up was a reminder how much I love this music!

I have vivid memories for many CDs (oftentimes, the ones I kept) of where I was when I bought them, received them, first heard them, etc. (Ah, Footlight Records, R.I.P.)

Possibly the most excited five minutes of my life (okay, excluding my wedding and birth of my kids, etc.) was the walk from the mailbox to my mom’s house with the copy of “The Best of Both Worlds” I had just received from GNP Crescendo. (I am keeping all the Star Trek items.)

There’s a gag in Amadeus when Mozart attends the Salieri concert. It’s obvious Mozart doesn’t care for his colleague’s music, but he’s being polite, so when Salieri asks for feedback, Mozart stumbles upon the phrase, “I never knew music like that was possible.” (Then, more humorously: “One hears such sounds, and what can one say but…Salieri!”)

For me, when I hear so much of this music, I feel the sincere expression of the Mozart line.

As a kid, then a young adult, now a grown man, I am reminded of the first time I encountered so many of these scores and the seemingly physical reaction in my body: I never knew music like this was possible!

Because I didn’t! The first time I heard The Empire Strikes Back, or Planet of the Apes, or Risky Business, or Shaft—any number of these amazing, brilliant, eclectic, pioneering scores—I truly felt, “This is the most amazing thing I ever heard! A minute ago I didn’t know this existed—and now I do? The world is suddenly much more wonderful and interesting and delightful!”

I remember, some 30 years ago, when I got the Bullitt CD from SLC in Japan, popped it in the player, and that electric bass line came out—I was like, “Whoa! Why was I not informed?!?!”

It used to happen a lot; now, of course, it happens much less. But it still happens.

CDs were, for the longest time, the delivery mechanism for these feelings. I remember buying Taxi Driver at Footlight Records, Lifeforce at some random record store in Boston, mailing away for the Outland LP from some ripoff dealer in Starlog magazine…and on and on.

So yes, there are a lot of memories tied up for me in this collection.

But in boxing them up, and saying goodbye to them (to the extent you can say goodbye to an inanimate object), it was a good reminder how much I love this music…

And, also, I’m starting to feel like Santa Claus in passing these discs on to good homes! (And yes, I know I’m selling them—I’m honest about that.)

I truly hope they end up with collectors who enjoy them, appreciate them, take care of them, and will be as happy to have them as I have been.

Thanks, everybody! And, more to come as we figure this out, together...

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