Tuesday, March 17, 2009


When does a hobby become an obsessive compulsive disorder?

I believe there is a clear line between the two, and that I have found it.

Earlier this year, I rediscovered the Grateful Dead. To my sober ears, they sound better than ever. And I was thrilled to discover that there are thousands of high-quality live recordings free for the taking on the Internet. All you need is a little patience, some online hunting skills and a lot of hard drive space.

At first, I was pretty picky. I'd only keep the parts of the shows that were really unique, the long jams and such. But I found that it was kind of nice to listen to entire shows as I did chores or read in my favorite chair in the living room. So I started downloading and saving entire shows.

Then I noticed the subtle difference between the shows on successive nights. It was kind of neat to imagine that I had tickets to entire runs of shows at, say, the Fillmore East in New York, and to compare the setlists from night to night. So I started collecting runs of shows.

Then I saw that each tour had its own unique vibe and story line, so now I'm starting to piece together entire tours. Last week, for instance, I completed an entire collection of the band's concerts in 1974. It was an especially good year -- and one with a lot fewer concerts than other years.

Now I'm trying to complete the Dead's tour of Europe in 1972, which a lot of fans say is the best they ever had. And it's here where I might the crossroads between hobbyist and obsessive. I've found and down loaded all but one of the concerts. And all but one are high quality recordings straight from the sound board. The last one was recorded by some bloke in the audience. And while some audience recordings can be quite good. This one... well, give it a listen yourself.

So now you see my dilemma. Do I download this godawful piece of crap, and complete the tour? I want to say I've got a full set. But I want to maintain my dignity as well.


meatpile said...

Joe -

There's something to be said for non-local data storage.....stream the shitty ones. The future will always bring more efficient mediums to store and access that amount of data, and the future will also likely bring better sources. Particularly Europe '72, which is in the vault. Actual pride in the 'collection' ain't what it used to be, considering you're downloading it from a public forum. I say this after filling up about 500GB of drives with just JGB....

I even stream the good ones, now. It's not like a got a $20k stereo.


MAWG said...

Compulsive collecting is great when you're 12 or 14. But let it go. Let it go.

Charlie said...

Collecting beats crack or gambling but nothing tops swinging.