Unlike most of my peers, I came to the world of recorded music late. We had a stereo cabinet in our house, and we did have a few dozen recordings, but the stereo in the cabinet didn't work, and the recordings were all very old. I got a stereo of my own when I was 13 or 14, and I enjoyed listening to recordings a lot, but I enjoyed listening to concerts more. I used recordings mostly for my education rather than for entertainment.
When I worked in radio as a young adult my goal was never to program the same piece twice in a six month period. I wanted to give the impression that listening to a recording was an event, and that the radio was a kind of a large concert hall. When I had recordings to review, I would usually listen to them twice, and then would either put them in rotation at the station or bring them home and put them on a shelf.
My collection or recordings outgrew shelves. I started taking the CDs out of their boxes and filing them in books. I organized the books by instrumentation and roughly by period. I would occasional listen to recordings again for comparison purposes, or play along with recordings of pieces I was working on in order to get "lessons" from the people who made the recordings. I also had to reference older recordings when writing reviews of newer ones.
After I stopped writing for the ARG I was free to file, give away, or throw away as many recordings as I wanted to file, give away, or throw away. I threw away the lousy ones. I gave a few hundred (taken out of their cases and put into loose-leaf books) to my mother, and I filed the rest in loose-leaf books that now fill a small (but wide) bookshelf. The process of filing the CDs took about three weeks. Looking at the recordings reminded me of where I was (perhaps on a walk) when I heard the recording for the first time. I usually remembered the season, the weather, and the route. I usually remembered what I liked about the recording.
Perhaps I am still in CD withdrawal, but I haven't even considered opening up the books to listen to a CD.
I noticed the other day that for the past month or so I have been getting all of my intentional music live, either from playing it myself or from listening to other people play it. And when I hear other people play music I REALLY appreciate it. (Unintentional recorded music would be musical soundtracks in movies, which are created to be automated.)
This makes me feel even more excited about playing the Mayer, Bauer, and Bonis concert tomorrow night, because every play through of every piece is a new experience, and having people in the room changes the experience in wonderful ways.
I'm off to rehearse . . .