Turn Up the Eight-Track (What’s an Eight-Track?): Cast Recordings and the Future of Media

96,000 (dollas? Holla!) would buy a lot of cast recordings. Image via PBS.

Like any good born-and-bred Winnipegger, I’m pretty cheap.

Not a bad sort of cheap though – not the expired bargain bin milk cheap – just a respectable kind of cheap. I bought $36 tickets to a concert recently and although the seats weren’t bad (second bowl), we got upgraded to fifth row in the first bowl. When I bought my single seat to Billy Elliot in January, I got the $27 ticket not knowing what I was expecting. Third row from the stage. Not too bad at all.

This weekend, I went out to spend some birthday money. My fiancé and I went to the bookstore and I picked up The Secret Life of the American Musical: How Broadway Shows are Built by Jack Viertel (and it killed me to pay over $30) and the 40th anniversary cast recording of A Chorus Line. And although I don’t regret either of my purchases, we then went to a used CD store and I bought the movie recording of Into the Woods and the original London cast recording of Les Mis (with a typo on the CD!), plus another CD for half the price of what I paid at the bookstore.

It’s likely that I’m never going to listen to these CDs. I’ll be able to get most (if not all) of them on Spotify and stream them with no hassle. So why do I obsessively seek out physical copies of cast recordings?

My obsession with music started before my long-term memories did: when I was a baby, my parents would put on the Eagles loud and start up the vacuum and I would fall asleep. This would turn into an *NSYNC obsession, which would lead to me buying my first CD with my own money at age 10: Fall Out Boy’s From Under the Cork Tree. In the last 11 years, I’ve amassed dozens of discs and even started to collect vinyl before it got expensive. Most of them are of the pop-punk-rock variety, but in the last few years, the only CDs I’ve bought have been cast recordings.

My bookshelves are filling up with Broadway memoirs and how-tos instead of young adult novels (although my signed copy of Looking for Alaska is still one of my prized possessions). And it seems that my music collection is doing the same thing. Maybe, one day, as I sorted through my parents’ old records and found some gems, my future child will find my CDs and start a renaissance of a now-dead medium.

Even though I take off the plastic wrap, read through the leaflet and set it on the shelf for what seems like eternity, to me, there’s nothing quite like owning and holding a piece of music that means a lot to you.

And it’s even better when you find Hamilton for 40% off.


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