Monday, December 28, 2009

That was the worst Christmas EVER!

That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!

Worst Christmas EVER. Those are three words I don't commonly use, nor lightly. And I am sure people have had far worse Christmases. Nobody died, nothing burned down, I am still alive and well. But three things made this past Christmas the worst Christmas ever to me:

1 The weather. This year the winter storm that hit the Midwest really ruined any plans I had to do what I wanted to do. The best I can say is I survived the storm in one piece, with my car still up and running, but that’s about the only best I can say. I could go into a lengthy diatribe into what went wrong for my Christmas this year but I am sure many of you have your own tale to tell and nobody came here to hear that so I will leave all that alone. (In short, it dealt with going to work on both Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day and having to go out in that horrible weather and dealing just about all day with that. I know, I know, things could always be worse. And they could always be better!) Best to just get past this and get ready for next year!

2 This year I just couldn’t get the time to find and buy and download the Christmas music I usually do. I was sick (I already told you all about that) then this weather system hit and so much more... I had no time to search for music on sites like My Space. I found a few songs, but not like I did in past years. And you have no idea how hard that is on a collector…it makes me wonder what music I missed out on! Not to mention the lack of time to check out other Christmas music sites to see what the offered this year and other things. This Christmas was not a good Christmas overall for me.

3 The apparent death of the physical CD. It's one thing that my Christmas was taken from me due to circumstances beyond my control, but the lack of great CD compilations this year really was disheartening.

I knew last year that they said there would be fewer Christmas compilation releases this year and they kept that promise, much to my chagrin. More and more Christmas music I find to buy is available in digital downloads only. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (oh, wait…there is…read on.)

I am just as modern as the next guy…I enjoy MP3s for their portability and apparent universal ease of use. However, there’s something about that physical CD, even if the first thing I do when I get it is rip the songs to MP3. There’s something to be said for having a product to hold…it gives me the sense of accomplishment that my hard earned money went to get me something and I have something to show for it. It’s far more impressive to show people the CDs I have in my collection than to open a digital folder and show them the files I have and tell them, “I downloaded these.” Oh, sure...I could burn those MP3s I paid for to a CD-R. Yeah, CD-Rs don't quite cut it either.

You tell people you downloaded all your music and it cheapens the product you paid good money to get. I don’t know if it’s just the assumption that downloaded=stole...uh, I mean "received" music for free in the minds of many or what but I never get the same response in telling somebody I have digital files that I get when I show them the cool and rare CDs I have. Even the average person knows there's just something about the physical CD that a digital download can NEVER replace.

Not to mention I can often tell stories how I came across the rare and hard to find CDs and what it took to acquire them into my collection but digital downloads? “Oh, I found this at a website and bought it.” Oh, that’s interesting. There are some CDs I own that once I pick the case up and see the cover art I have instant memories of how I came across the CD. Sometimes it’s not just as simple of driving to Best Buy and buying it. Sometimes there’s more involved and I have to say my memory gets fuzzy with the digital downloads. Where did I find that MP3? Shoot if I can remember. Online somewhere, who cares? Cheapened product...

It goes beyond that for me. Having suffered a hard drive crash twice in the past year there is something to be said for having the physical copy. It’s like insurance that you have a back up of those songs. If I lose MP3s I ripped from CDs I own, I rip the MP3s again and get on with my life. If I lose MP3s of digital albums I paid for online, for the most part I am screwed.

In the past decade we saw the apparent death of the CD, and predictors of trends to come predict that it will just get worse in the next decade. I am optimistic. OK, maybe CDs will die but I don’t think it’s just going to be hard drives and Ipods either. I believe that MP3s are like the 45s of the 50’s. Just as 45 records gave birth to high fidelity vinyl records and improved sound quality that, to this day, remains unravialed with digital media (which is why we are seeing a renewed interest in vinyl) I think the sound quality of MP3s will no longer be acceptable in the next decade and will perhaps give birth to a new way to listen to music and still enjoy conveience and portability.

MP3s compress the sound and if you have a high enough quality MP3 you don’t really notice the loss in quality, but if you get a chance to hear uncompressed music you notice the improved quality. With Blu-Rays replacing DVDs we have discs with uncompressed sound replacing discs with compressed MP3s. Would I notice the lack of sound quality on a DVD by itself? No…DVD sounds great and served its purpose of superior home entertainment for more than a decade for a reason. Until you put the Blu-Ray in the player and hear the difference then suddenly it’s crystal clear which is superior.

A part of me hopes for the death of MP3s in the next decade. While they will still have a place and won’t go away, with improved storage capabilities in our digital media we can have room for uncompressed music files. And with the renewed interest in vinyl and people hearing uncompressed sound on Blu-Ray disc I think it's only a matter of time before people realize these digital albums they are downloading sound like crap and they are NOT getting their money's worth. And perhaps…just perhaps…a new format will come around that will showcase this “new” uncompressed digital sound for music like Blu-Ray did for movies and we will enjoy a resurgence in physical copies and in enjoying uncompressed music.

At least I can always hope.

For now, digital albums do not give me the opportunity to listen to that music uncompressed and there is a greater chance if I lose the files I lost the music for good. Even backing it up can be unreliable. I know somebody who had all their MP3s backed up on an external hard drive, they were moving, they dropped the external drive in the process, the drive broke and all that music was lost for good. Like I said previously, with my CDs even if my backed up MP3s get corrupted or lost, I still have the original discs. It makes me reluctant to throw my hard earned money at these so-called Christmas albums available only for download because I am not getting the full audio experience I would from a physical copy. Even if I choose to rip the songs from that physical copy to MP3 at least I can still enjoy the full audio fidelity of those songs when I want to.

(Is it ironic that I would be commenting on the lack of sound quality in MP3s on a MP3 blog? Perhaps so…but my hope is that my MP3s inspire you to go out and purchase the music featured here and listen to it uncompressed!)

I am honored and humbled to see some new numbers on my followers list. I promise to be back soon with more Christmas music. I know I said that before, but this time I mean it. Now I got all this out of my system, it's time to get back to the music.

And I hope what I have to say about digital downloads hits home with some of you. I know there are people who read this blog who prefer the physical copy of music. And for those of you who don't...well, I hope I gave you some food for thought.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wayside Waifs CD and NEW Bonus CD

The CD is still available. There have been a few orders (and thank you so much for those of you patient with the delay in getting the orders out while I fought my sickness!) but there are still copies left. This edition is LIMITED TO 500 copies! The suggested donation for this item is ONLY $10.00. That would be cheap at twice the price!

Add to Cart

For those looking for the file to download... To keep an E-Junkie account for free to use for charity purposes, I am unable to host the download file on their site. Sorry, I tried everything I could think of.

Also, this year there is a NEW bonus EP available to those of you who wish to donate an extra $5.00. When you order the CD you can change the donation amount to include for the EP.

This is an 8 song EP featuring new tracks -some by artists who were unable to get me their tracks by the time the CD went into production last year and some songs recorded for this collection- with bonus/hidden tracks as well.

The new songs include:
Jim Abel-Let Christmas Start Here
Ken Clinger-Ho, Ho, Ho and A Ride on Santa's Sleigh
Franky Four Eyes-Just Like Christmas
Shufflin' Noah-Comin' Home For Christmas
No Fun-No Fun at Christmas
Mexican Kids at Home-Wholesale Xmas Bore is Over
We Know, Plato!-A Christmas Sort of Dream

This EP is limited to 100 numbered copies.

And, because I do NOT like double dipping, for those of you who ordered the bonus CD last year you can order this bonus CD by itself. Otherwise, this bonus CD is only available with the purchase of the full length CD for $10.00 plus an additional donation of $5.00.

If you want to order just the EP (and you ordered the CD last year with the bonus disc) you can either just Pay Pal the money to me at my email address or click to buy the CD and change the donation amount to the price of the EP and put a note you are just ordering the Ep.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Update and a New Compilation

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated (wait...there were rumors of what??)

On December 5th I attended the Christmas Open House at Wayside Waifs and on December 6th I developed a bit of a runny nose and a small cough that I chalked up to an allergy reaction of some sort. On the 7th I woke up with a full blown cold/flu/whatever it is that made me the sickest I've been least the past 15-16 years. No joke. So that's why you haven't seen much of me or heard much from me. And for that I truly apologize. I am still recovering but at least I feel a bit better every day. This is some kind of insidious cold that refuses to improve with rest and liquids and medication. It's a tenacious sort that gets a hold of your body and forces you to suffer until it's done ravaging you. Suffice to say, it's not just this blog that has suffered. I missed time from work and, shoot, I haven't even been able to buy any Christmas music this year, let alone down load any new tracks. Shoot.

But I would like to share with you a collection of some of my favorite songs that I've compiled over the past year. I intended to post more than this, of course, but this is really the first time I could make it on here in a while. I tried Monday (I really did!) and I could barely stay awake I was so sick.

01-August Darnell-Christmas on Riverside Drive

A nice upbeat tune to start things off! This is from the ZE Christmas Record.

02-Triffids-Save What You Can

From the album Calenture. The Triffids were always a favorite of mine, and this was the first album I heard from them. And, while not exactly the most overtly Christmas song of the bunch (though it does mention Christmas cheer!), it does lead quite well into the next track...

03-Prefab Sprout-Earth, the Story So Far

Prefab Sprout rose to fame around the same time as the Triffids did. This track comes from their 2009 release, "Let's Change the World."

04-Super Fuffy Animals-Gift that Keeps Giving

From Hey Venus!

05-Adam and Darcie-With Wondering Awe

Found online last year at the Village Ten Collective.

06-April March-Last Train to Christmas

I liked the sound of track 5 and it seemed to compliment well the sound of this track. April March's music is often a bit of a challenge to find at reasonable prices, but always worth it if you do your digging at the right time. This comes from April March and Los Cincos.

07-Milagro Saints & The Sounds of Creation Choir & Band - Child of Peace

And this comes from the first Have a Holly Raleigh Christmas compilation.

08-Breanne Düren-Heart in My Hands

From My Space...still going in the same style of music, for the most part. Found online last year.

09-Betty & The Cavaleros-Hey I'm Your Gift Today

Also found online last year, a free gift to web surfers at

10-The Birthday Girl Vs AFH-Hey Santa

Another online find...this time the Filthy Little Angels Christmas compilation.

11-The Cartridge Family - Frosty The Freemason

Online as well...

12-Glam Chops-Countdown To Christmas

And yet another My Space track I found last year.

13-Billy Ruffian-It's A Long Lonely Christmas Without Jimmy Greenhoff

From A Very Cherry Christmas 3

14-Departure Lounge - Christmas Downer

This comes from It's a Cool, Cool Christmas.

15-Camden Flatwood-Christmas Has A Way

From A Very Balthrop Christmas, an online compilation available last year.

16-Richard Thompson-Mary and Joseph

A little something different...another not so exactly a traditional Christmas song. From Henry the Human Fly.

17-The Leopards-Dancing In The Snow

From a Christmas 45 record.

18-The Walkabouts-Christmas Valley

Another favorite off the beaten path track I found... From Devil's Road.

19-Trapper Zukie-Archie, The Rednosed Reindeer

From Man Ah Warrior. You can never go wrong with music like this!

20-Ting Tings-Shut Up & Let It Snow

One day I hope to hear a full studio recording of this song...but for now we have the radio recording to tide us over.

More to come soon... Including LONG over due news about a NEW bonus CD for the Wayside Waifs compilation. News I wanted to get out earlier...but you know...all what I said earlier and all. The sickness was really horrible timing.