I had a horrible nightmare. That basically everything my friends have been warning me about came true. That Scientologists completely took over the film industry and forced everyone to work on a series of Battlefield Earth sequels. That religious groups gained total control of the government and initiated wide-reaching censorship and compulsive prayer in schools and at baseball games. That Webster's officially recognized "text" as a verb. And worst of all, that they stopped making compact discs. Because people stopped caring about music. It was terrifying.
The end of CDs would mean the end of a lot of music. Because pop artists would then only release the singles. Because people will only download songs that they already know, which means only the songs that get played on the radio. So after a while, bands would stop recording songs that producers don't think of as singles.
Think about it. When you were a kid, you heard "Stairway To Heaven" on the radio, so you bought Led Zeppelin IV. Which then let you in on "Misty Mountain Hop" and "Going To California." You bought Toys In The Attic for "Walk This Way" and "Sweet Emotion," but man, what a thrill when you put the record on and heard "Uncle Salty" and "Adam's Apple" and "Big Ten Inch Record." You heard "Centerfold," bought Freeze-Frame, and then got to enjoy "Angel In Blue" and "Piss On The Wall." You bought American Fool for "Jack And Diane," but then were rewarded with "Thundering Hearts." Think about the Modern English album, After The Snow. Sure, you bought it for "I Melt With You," but that whole record is fantastic. And you'd never know otherwise, because none of those other tracks ever got airplay.
Think of all the great music we'd be missing if folks just extracted the one song they wanted from an album. Albums are art. The songs are in a particular order for a reason. It's the order in which the artist wished to present them, the order he or she or they wanted you to hear them. We need to respect that. Downloading one track is like telling these songwriters that you know more about their art than they do. And you don't. So buy the damn CD.
Besides, CDs have information. Liner notes. Lyrics. Songwriting credits. And album cover art. Sure, it's much smaller than when vinyl was king. But at least it's still there. And you also have the physical connection to the music - holding the CD (by the edges, please) and putting it into the CD player and pressing "play." That truly connects us to the music in a way that downloading can't. And yeah, it's not as great a thrill as putting that needle gently into the groove, but it's something.
As a society, we need to become more connected to creativity, to art, to music, not less so, if we're to survive in any meaningful way. Because let's face it - now that we have the technology that allows us to communicate with everyone we ever met, most people can't carry on a real conversation. We are totally losing our humanity, and no, I don't think I'm exaggerating here. When horrible sites like Twitter forbid us from writing in complete sentences, when folks speak only in abbreviated form (and then can't recall what the abbreviations even stand for), when our musical choices are lessened because technology has destroyed an art form, I say yes, we are losing our humanity.
So please, continue buying CDs. Don't let my nightmare come true. (And don't use the word "text" as a verb. It's a noun. Also, "waitress" is a noun.)