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Catchgroove: The Desert Sessions – PREFACE

January 16, 2022

I am about a year from retirement. On January 6, I turned 63. Laura and I have lived in Minnesota our entire lives. More specifically, we have lived in the same 10 mile radius our entire lives. We are about to embark on a new adventure – we have purchased a second home in Phoenix Arizona. Our plan is to become snowbirds: summers in Minneapolis and winters in Phoenix.

The Desert Sessions will chronicle this adventure in Arizona with a special emphasis on the music I am listening to in the desert. See also my Instagram @catchgroove for more frequent posts.

I am not going to complain about the financial challenges of owning a second home, but I am having to make sacrifices with my vinyl habit for a bit. But thankfully there is streaming – my Methadone.

I have been seriously collecting physically music since 1977. First vinyl LPs and by the mid-80s CDs. Back you did not have much choice but to buy physical media. The radio was limited. You could borrow LPs or CDs and copy to tape (cassettes), but that was dependent on the quality of your friends.

The Minneapolis listening loft

Cassettes had the advantage of being portable – in cars, boom boxes and Walkmans. They were the tool by which you could “file share”. I never had 8 Tracks.

CDs had the advantage of no surface noise, reasonable durability, and once buffering solved motion skipping, portability. Another advantage of CDs is you could get great sound from mediocre equipment. CDs also raised the price of albums – CDs were roughly three times the cost of vinyl records. At first this increased cost was justified: albums had to be remastered, manufacturing couldn’t meet demand, distribution and retail had to adapt to a new size of product, etc.

File sharing, iPods, and MP3s made music free and portable. The free part required you to ignore the fact you were stealing more than sharing. Although stealing was easier to justify given the unjust pricing of CDs (too expensive). MP3s sounded like shit, but hey connivence has a price. The Apple model of buying songs digitally never appealed to me (almost as expensive as CDs for a frictionless product – except you could by songs vs. albums).

Streaming made things easier, accessible, ethical (legal is a better term), and cheap. Initially we had to deal with MP3 quality, but that is behind us now with high resolution streaming. We now have it all: portable, easy, cheap, accessible, audiophile sound and legal. The only downside is the artist get screwed – but the artist always gets screwed.

I listen to high resolution streaming (via Tidal) more than any other medium. Yet I still buy vinyl – why? It is complicated. That will have to wait for another post.

I assume the next few months I will be focused on streaming as it will be awhile before the Arizona crib is vinyl friendly – acquiring a chair to sit in will likely be more important than the latest release on wax. Eventually I assume I will check out the local record store scene. I will hack my two channel stereo into the built in ceiling mounted speaker system. I brought a starter LP collection to Phoenix – kind of like sourdough. I selected albums that are not available on streaming services – more about those albums later.

I look forward to sharing this next chapter in our lives over the next few months.

In ceiling speakers from the previous owners

From → Music Reviews

  1. Doug permalink

    Where are you going to live there? I was born and raised there, Scottsdale HS (no longer exists) graduate. We’re probably going to buy a place there.

  2. Anonymous permalink

    Jim (right?),
    Matt here from the Patti Smith show: we stood next to each other! Very jealous of this news. Not sure if you know of this group but I’ve loved them since high school and they continue to personify AZ for me. They’re from Tucson: the Sidewinders. Might be a good way to baptize yourself in the sand. They did a couple great records as the Sidewinders (Witchdoctor and Auntie Ramos’ Pool Hall) before some legal hocus forced them to change their name to the Sand Rubies, under which they did a couple more (s/t and Return of the Living Dead) prior to calling it a day. They just sound like the desert to me. Check ’em out if you get a chance and best of luck!

    • Great to hear from you and sounds like a great suggestion. I will for sure check them out and let you know what I think.

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