Dear [redacted], I’m writing to inform you that I no longer own a copy of your album [redacted]. If I’m being completely honest, I’ve had to get rid of [redacted] as well, and that album you made with [redacted] that has the picture of you on the front holding the enormous [redacted]. All of your CDs have had to go. Well, all except [redacted] because that’s a classic of the genre. Although I did hide it away in the cupboard along with that box of EFDSS Journals that I bought on eBay and now regret.
It’s not that I’ve joined the cult of the possessionless. I still like things very much; things are terrific. And I’ve certainly not decided to digitise my music collection then go around telling everyone how the CD is an obsolete medium as if that might make me seem cool. I don’t want to seem cool. It’s just that I don’t really enjoy listening to your music any more. I’m not sure I ever completely did.
I know that’s a terrible thing to say to someone. I can only hope the fact that this letter is entirely fictional and you are a construct can go some way towards softening the blow. But I also think it’s important to be honest about it now, in case you were to find out later.
You see, the image I have in my head is of you coming to my flat (no, I don’t own it. I’m renting. Don’t ask. It’s downright criminal.) You’d come to my flat, maybe because you had a gig in London and needed somewhere to stay. And you’d see my walls of records and CDs and think to yourself, “My gosh, hasn’t he got a lot of records and CDs.” And then you’d see the complete collection of albums by [redacted] next to a full set of releases by [redacted] and ask, “Where are my albums that I made? You must have them. Where are they?”
And then what? Do I lie and say, “Oh they’re over there…” and make a vague gesture towards a Bee Gees box set and hope you take me at my word? Or do I admit the truth? Do I look you in your composite folk musician eyes that you don’t have and say, “I needed to make some space as they were stacked two deep on my shelves. So I asked myself some tough questions. Was I keeping your albums because I liked them or because when I first discovered folk music I was so excited about it that I bought absolutely anything that looked as if it might be trad, and convinced myself it was brilliant. But as the years have rolled on they’ve just been sitting there gathering dust and taking up room, and some of your records… they’re just… you know… not very good, are they?”
I didn’t bin them, if that’s any consolation. I donated them to a local charity shop. The woman there was annoyed when I said I needed the bag back, but it was one of my good ones. And as I was taking your CDs out I heard another volunteer say, “Oh god, not another load of those. When will people stop dumping all their rubbish on us?”
That last bit is true.