When Music is Emotional (and Actual) Baggage

When Limewire made its debut back in… oh a million years ago, I was a devoted, nay, obsessed, smitten, crazed, addicted twelve year old and downloaded just about anything I could lay my hands on. Something usurped Limewire.. something blue. Azure? I think there was a frog involved somewhere. And then Pirate Bay. And one day I had some 200 gigabytes of music. Those were the days when the biggest iPod you could get was 160gb (but not even the rich kids had 160gb iPods). I got through a few desktops as well, from all the viruses and misuse. My stand-in father is an IT expert and I drove him to distraction bringing my mangled computers to him once every few weeks, begging him to just save the music. I listened to everything, from deep dark scary shit that could only possibly be found at the far corners of the internet, to Bewitched and the Moulin Rouge soundtrack.

Unfortunately, for all those masses of music I consumed, I’m left with a sour taste. I was deeply depressed and destructive for most of my teenage years, doing cruel things to myself and anyone around me. And all the while I was listening to every piece of music I could get my fingers on, which means that everything in my iTunes has been tainted. I think everyone finds music emotive, but I find being transported without any control very disconcerting. Led Zeppelin, Massive Attack, freaking Mika, The Police, Finley Quay, Tracy Chaplin, Bob Marley. All of it makes me feel something akin to nostalgia, but it isn’t sweet, it’s like a clenching of the stomach. There’s music in there that I desperately want to hear again, like Tu Pac or 36 Crazy Fists, but I just can’t. (Ok, admittedly the latter is pretty emotionally-fueled).

Also, a practical issue with my iTunes library is that I have to keep it on a separate hard drive as I haven’t yet owned a computer that is big enough or fast enough for all my music. This means I have to plug in my giant, old, excessively wired Seagate every time I want to listen to music. Seeing as I’ve been moving around since I was like, 17/18, I haven’t consistently had music in my life because my music is so damn cumbersome. So I’ve had the bright idea of deleting it all. Over ten years of music collection. I swapped to buying my music legally when I was 18 and so I have perhaps one gb of Apple certified songs on my iPhone, and I’ve been using the Tubiddy app (which makes Youtube more iPhone friendly). I’ve survived for like five years now without hearing The OC Soundtrack at the click of a button, so why not just take the next logical step and free up that hard drive for something I actually use, and that gives me pleasure – photography. Currently my pictures are distributed across so many platforms – Hubic, iCloud, Google Docs, two small hard drives, a handful of USBs, and SD cards. They need a home and I can’t afford another hard drive.

I need some advice! Should I just revert to using Youtube and be done with it? Or am I mad to delete my precious music that is loyally, albeit painfully, entwined with my worst and best memories?