Sunday, 22 April 2012

The immaculate terror of completism

I've just bought a USB disc drive so that I can import all of my music onto my new netbook. It has made me realise something and the more I think about it, the more I realise it is the thing that has made me and informed everything I do. The whole time my music collection has sat in the corner of my room, I've never once realised that it is in fact the most in-depth psychological profile of me ever made.

I am completely and utterly averse to completism of any kind. As I imported big pile of CDs after big pile of CDs I realised that I was dealing with artists and albums that I would gladly kill someone's dog for if they disrespected them, and yet I have avoided all sorts of their other work with a determination bordering on psychosis.

I think there's an element of fear there. I am enormously averse to any form of adventurousness. But also, perhaps it's the very fact that I only have two albums by The Band that is the reason why I love them so much? There's no risk of anything popping my little bubble. How bleeding miserable it must be to be a completist. It terrifies me. Every new release must be a tightrope for them... could this be the disc that finally makes you realise that Shed Seven aren't actually all that? Completism for me represents the moment when stuff begins to own you, and that's even before you even have to spend your money on the most preposterous load of old rubbish and then justify it in fights to the death in pub car parks while your soul weeps bitter tears of blood.

Certain bands and artists inspire such devotion more than others, but I'm sure that if you've ever released more than three things, you'd have a Mel from Flight of the Conchords-like fan, building their whole life around you, splashing out for Greatest Hits albums even though they already own every single track that is on it.

It's one of my favourite things about being a Dylan fan. I own about 20 Bob Dylan albums, plus bits and bobs from about 5 more (thanks, internet). But there's not a Dylan fan out there that I have yet encountered who does not readily admit that sometimes our hero peddles the biggest piles of old shit. Shit that is intolerable, impossible and unlistenable. That is the sort of fandom that I can subscribe to and understand. So much more human and earthbound than the hero-worshipping completism.

This morning I checked my assembled music collection to see what a fraud and phony I am for writing this. I am pleased to say that I fared very well. I own all 13 Beatles albums (half of which were a gift from a friend) as well as two out of the three Anthologies, 1 and Past Masters. I also own all 7 studio albums by Blur, but none of their bonus, live or greatest hit releases. Those two are about as close as I get. The Blur collection, if you can call it that, represents the only one I made contemporaneously. Would I have continued to buy each successive album if the previous one had been bobbins? That's the question I have been asking myself ever since. I honestly don't think I would have.

What a relief that is. I'd be able to sleep peacefully at night again, if it weren't for these terrifying wet farts.

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