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Tom Waits and Joyce Manor CDs

Unclaimed Tom Waits CD: am I old or is it Spotify?

Tom Waits and Joyce Manor CDsI teach history courses at a big university in California. Classes started three weeks ago. One of mine takes place in one of the largest lecture halls on campus. I walked into the room, which holds almost 200 people, and there on the corner of a front desk sat two CDs, one by Tom Waits, the other by Joyce Manor.

I immediately wanted to put them in my bag, especially the Waits album. It was “Rain Dogs,” one of my favorites, because it contains his amazing noir song “Walking Spanish,” which I am pretty sure is about being on death row. But I knew that taking them away would be wrong. Somebody surely will come back and pick them up, I thought. So I left the CDs on the table.

Second class: they somehow migrated to a corner desk that functions as a lost and found spot. There they sat, alluringly, waiting for their true owner to return.

Third class: they’re were still there! But I’m a man of principles, so fuggetaboutit.

Fourth class: I gave up. Gimme those CDs. “It’s day four folks!” I declared to my class. “I’m taking these CDs! Sorry!”

I heard a few “doh”s and groans among the students, but mostly they were pretty meh about the announcement. “What gives?” I thought to myself. Thousands of kids from multiple classes have walked past that podium with those yummy looking CDs sitting there for weeks. Nobody took them. Why?

I came up with two theories. Theory one: they’ve never heard of the artists. I asked some of them about Tom Waits. Sure enough, he drew blanks at the student cafe. I felt a bit old. But one kid sort of remembered. “He’s the guy with the gravely voice, right?” Right, I said, and did an imitation of his song “The Piano Has Been Drinking.” They all knew him now and laughed. And I surmised that even if they lacked knowledge of the artists, curiosity would prompt at least a few of them to take the CDs.

So I tested Theory Two: these kids are so hooked up to Spotify or some similar service that who cares about CDs any more? I asked around. Yes, we use Spotify, a majority of them told me. Faculty too, actually (with a slightly guilty tone among some with whom I spoke).

Anyway, I took the CDs home and I put one in my desktop. It prompted me to decide which application I would use to listen. I was not sure. It’s been a while since I audited a CD on my home computer, I realized. But I’d like to listen to Tom Waits, I thought.

Maybe I’ll just use Spotify . . .


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2 Responses to Unclaimed Tom Waits CD: am I old or is it Spotify?

  1. Alexi January 22, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    That’s really kind of sad. If Tom Waits isn’t the unequivocal hipster icon he once was, then who has taken his place? Could anyone? What ever happened to discovering an artist?
    And that feeling of defeated exhaustion when tasked with putting a cd all the way into a disk drive and the clicking, etc.. It’s amazing the music industry survives at all when even listening to a free cd is a daunting task.
    These are more lingering wtfs than actual concerns, but the wtf begin to outweigh the general apathy.

  2. Aleks Vujovic January 28, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    You’ll do well to listen to Rain Dogs on CD as opposed to spotify. The difference is night and day.
    Tom Waits isn’t immediately accessible music. It takes a few listens to get addicted.
    I’ve been a Tom Waits addict for years and years now though. Since like…18 years old.

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