A CD Personality Profile

There is a theory I just made up that you can understand someone's personality and outlook on life by a careful examination of their compact disc collection. If that's true, what does the following tell you about me?

I've divided the content into a few categories for easier navigation:
* Classics
* Movies
* Theatre
* Children's
* Novelties & Humor
* Want some more current music? Check out my iTunes music blog.

Classics & Near Classics

My record collection had no fewer than two albums of classical music among the hundred or so titles (three if you count the 2001 soundtrack). That began to change when I bought my first CD player around 1983. I discovered quickly that while pop music sounded good on CD, orchestras sounded absolutely amazing! This was one of my first CDs, a direct-to-digital recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Not being much of a concert-goer, I had no idea how violins are supposed to sound. It was also my first of many Telarc CD purchases.

Back when I was buying my first good (i.e. non-Radio Shack) sound system, the friend who helped me through the process showed me an unusual record album. It was a recording of the 1812 Overture that included real cannons. The low level sounds were so intense that they had to allow more space between the grooves during the cannon fire, which you could see clearly on the record. It was a well known torture test for your turntable, involving a particularly violent motion of the arm. Years later I bought the CD and discovered that that same cannon fire could dim the lights on my receiver as it attempted to duplicate those low frequency tones. It also made me popular with my neighbors, who don't seem to enjoy cannon fire at odd hours, digitally recorded or not.

I've always loved Rhapsody In Blue. I have at least half a dozen different versions of it in my collection. But this was my first and the best: an immaculate digital recording of a brilliant piece of music. The CD also validated another love of mine: for movie music. It includes Richard Adinsell's Warsaw Concerto, another beautiful piece of music that happens to have been written explicitly for the movies (a 1941 British film called Dangerous Moonlight that I once caught on television).

This CD combines two of my favorite things: great music and cartoons. It's a Deutsche Grammophon collection of great classics that were used in cartoons from Warner Brothers and Disney to Ren & Stimpy. I have a dozen discs in this series. They're perfect for someone whose favorite meal is a smorgasbord: little bits from many different sources, all with an underlying theme.

I took a lot of coach tours on my first visit to Australia. On the way back to the hotels the drivers would frequently play tapes of classic Australian music, for which I developed a fondness. On my last day of the trip I found this excellent compilation, which unfortunately the store only had on tape. When I made my second trip two years later I was determined to find that same collection on CD. At every music store I encountered I scanned the racks, hoping in vain to locate a copy. I finally lucked out in Cairns in the north of Queensland, two weeks into the trip. Walking around Sydney's Darling Harbour a few hours before her flight, my traveling companion decided that she wanted a copy as well. So we walked over to the local Virgin store in a vain attempt to locate one. (After all, it had taken me two weeks to find my copy. So what were the odds of her having any success?) Well, I suspect you can guess the outcome. There's a moral to this story. I don't know what it is and I suspect that I'm happier not knowing.


During my time at Data General I spent a few months in Brussels, doing consulting for Exxon's chemical division. Being on my own in a country whose languages I don't speak, I was always desperate for entertainment. I would catch every movie that came out and watch what I could on the Flemish TV stations. (The Flemish stations would subtitle programs in English; the French would dub them.) A lot of their English content were old movies, presumably because they were cheap. This is when I discovered some of the classics of Hollywood: early Bogart, Rita Hayworth in Gilda and, best of all, Gene Tierney as Laura, the murdered woman with whom Dana Andrews falls in love. My taste in movies has never been the same.

I love movie music, perhaps because it reminds me of the way movies used to be and the way I used to be when I watched them. Everything was bigger than life, with enormous screens that transported me to magic places. Occasionally I hear a piece of movie music that transports me back to a particularly intense moment. Danny Elfman's soundtracks are like that: each one brings out the sensations of the film to which it belongs. When I'm trapped in an airplane seat on a long flight, this is the sort of thing that takes me to somewhere I'd rather be.

A big chunk of my adolescence took place during the heyday of the James Bond movies. My life and the movies intersected in 1964 with the release of Goldfinger, which my parents thought was too racy for me to see. I must have just been on the edge of oldenoughness, because I did get to see the Dr. No/From Russia With Love double feature that arrived the following year. (From Russia With Love remains my favorite movie in the series.) And so began another great passion, as I devoured all of Ian Fleming's books and waited impatiently for The Man With The Golden Gun to show up in paperback. When I first began collecting 45's1, Nancy Sinatra's rendition of You Only Live Twice was one of the first two I bought2.

Casino Royale was the first of the Bond books. Ian Fleming, not yet knowing what he had, sold the movie rights cheaply. Later on he sold the rights to the rest of the series to Cubby Broccoli, who produced all of the films to date except Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again.The people who did make a movie from Casino Royale made a complete hash of the project. But I still get a kick out of the music, as goofily un-Bondian as it is. And I even enjoy the movie, as clear as it is from the beginning that no one had a clue about what it was they were making.


  1. Today's history lesson: 45's were records with one song on each side, an obsolete predecessor to the CD single. Their name is a reference to the speed with which the turntable3 rotated: 45 revolutions per minute. Similarly, early records came to be known as 78's. But for some reason the standard long playing (in comparison to the 78, anyway) record of my youth was never called a 33 1/3.
  2. Silence Is Golden by a group called the Tremoloes was the other.
  3. History lesson, part two: A turntable was a platform on which a phonograph record sat and which rotated at something approximating the appropriate playback speed. A tone arm containing a diamond-tipped needle rested on a groove in the record and converted the motion of the groove into electrical signals that would more or less reproduce the material captured on the record. Some audiophiles spent a thousand dollars or more on a turntable, only to spend even more money on a separate arm and needle-equipped cartridge!

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