18 November 2012

The Great CD Purge of 2012

Note: This is a live-blog post which will be updated as I progress through my library.

It's been a while since I last weeded out my music library. It occurred to me recently that my taste in music has changed dramatically in the last few years. Not only have I quit bothering with contemporary country music, but I've largely lost my interest even in the music I used to listen to on a regular basis. Part of it is that I've come to feel excluded from country music because of the culture war. I'm still a Southerner, but I can't really stomach many of the anthems anymore. Anyway, I've decided to go through and listen to a lot of the albums in my library again and see what's worth keeping and what I'm better off purging.

I'm Alright - Jo Dee Messina

One of my friends was completely obsessed with this album when it came out in the 90s. I still think of her when I hear anything from it, particularly the singles "I'm Alright" and "Bye Bye". It's clearly the album of an adult woman with a certain amount of life experiences under her belt, but also the self-confidence to look forward. It's an empowerment album, from start to finish, and one that's definitely crafted for a drive.

The drawback is that my favorite songs here were all singles and appear on Messina's Greatest Hits collection, which I also have. That includes a few other songs of hers that I also dig. Do I really need both in my library?

Verdict: Purge

That's How They Do It in Dixie: The Essential Collection - Hank Williams, Jr.

There's no shortage of Bocephus compilations, but this is one of the best. The problem I have with Hank, Jr. is that I've reached a point where I can't even really enjoy his music anymore because all I can think about is how we're diametrically opposed to one another on socio-political matters. I just can't get into "Born to Boogie" knowing that Hank honestly believes that President Obama is waging an actual war threatening "real" (read: white) Americans.

Verdict: Purge

Some Hearts - Carrie Underwood

I bought this from BMG Music Service (I know!) in large part because my wife and cousin were both into Carrie Underwood's music. "Jesus, Take the Wheel", " Before He Cheats" and "Don't Forget to Remember Me" were all hit singles and they're part of the soundtrack of my life around the middle of this past decade. How many times did we play this disc in the Escape, either running errands around town or even making the drive to visit my in-laws in Ohio or Daytona? Quite a few.

Some Hearts was an important album in my life. On the other hand, I've had to let go of that part of my life. Maybe it's time to let go of this album, too?

Verdict: Purge

Your Man - Josh Turner

The truth of the matter is, I only got into Josh Turner because I liked "Long Black Train" and the fact that when I saw him in concert at Coyote's Music and Dance Hall, he sang a few Randy Travis covers. He seems like a nice guy, and I like some of the songs here: "Would You Go with Me" and the title track are both solid, and I've always liked "Me and God" even though I tend to be ambivalent toward that kind of song in general. "Loretta Lynn's Lincoln" is a pretty stupid song, but it's catchy and kind of fun. Where the album loses me are the banal redneck anthems like "Way Down South" and "White Noise" - a song lamenting that there aren't enough country songs in a world full of hip-hop. Seriously? "I'm talkin' 'bout white noise/comin' from the white boys"? "Take me where those honkies are a-tonkin'"? Really? I just can't.

Verdict: Purge

Super Hits - Outlaws

I have a hard time getting rid of a thing if I received it as a gift. This was a Christmas gift from my wife in 2006, along with Vince Gill's These Days box set (which I'm definitely keeping). The thought was kind, but it's entirely superfluous since I have all of these songs on other discs.

It's a decent enough compilation, truthfully, and if we weren't living in the era of digital music where I could compile a playlist of these same songs from the other albums I have where they appear, I'd be inclined to keep it.

Verdict: Purge

Songs from Here and Back - The Beach Boys

As with Some Hearts, I have an obvious, direct emotional connotation to contend with here. This live EP was a Hallmark store exclusive for Father's Day, 2006. I've gone six years without acknowledging the timing of that and what it meant for me and I'm not about to start now. Speaking of it strictly as an album, it's pretty brief. The live performances sound good, but I think I'm content with the classic studio versions I have on the Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of The Beach Boys compilation CD. This is a nice supplement to a Beach Boys library, but the truth is that I'm only a casual fan and the Sounds of Summer disc is more than sufficient for my purposes.

Verdict: Purge

I Hope You Dance - Lee Ann Womack

This CD single includes the regular, country version and the pop-crossover mix. I've always been a fan of the song and even during my I'm-Sick-of-Country-Starlets-Trying-to-Go-Pop phase, I liked this one. Still, the truth is that I don't really need both versions in my library and I have the regular mix elsewhere.

Verdict: Purge

Some People Change - Montgomery Gentry
Best Buy exclusive edition with bonus tracks

MG's debut album, Tattoos & Scars, was one of my favorites of its era. Then I saw them play at Coyote's one night and got to hang out for a bit after the show with Troy Gentry and I became a fan for sure. I still like the guys, but their aesthetic changed dramatically after they started touring with big acts like Kenny Chesney (who had previously recorded the title track of this album). It's not necessarily a bad thing that they changed their style, but they changed it to something a little more...generic, I hate to say. "Hey Country", "Takes All Kinds" and "Your Tears Are Comin'" are all examples of this forgettable style.

To be honest, I've kept this CD as long as I have because it was a Best Buy exclusive with two bonus tracks and I didn't want to part with it only to have seller's remorse.

"Lucky Man" is one of the better songs in their catalog, though, and one that I've enjoyed since I first heard it. Unfortunately, it's on an entirely disappointing album.

Verdict: Purge

Stand Still, Look Pretty - The Wreckers

I liked "Leave the Pieces" and "My, oh My" as singles enough that I ordered this album from BMG. Oddly enough, those were the two tracks on the album not produced by John Leventhal. Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp sound great together. The lyrics, most written by Branch and Harp, are a cut above the standard radio fare.

The problem with this album is that there isn't enough variety. It's hard to really tell when one song ends and another begins because the album maintains the same tempo and aesthetic throughout. I'd be interested to hear more from The Wreckers (a shame they disbanded after just two albums), but I don't feel the need to keep this in my library.

Verdict: Purge