from InsideHook

Lessons From a ’90s CD Collection

What one man learned from revisiting his old CDs decades later


Stacks of CDs
What can we learn from a decades-old CD collection? / Getty Images

“If I could just afford one new CD a week, I’d be a happy man,” I declared to a coworker at Pure Pop Records in Burlington, Vermont, where I worked between 1995 and 1998. In the first years of my 20s, this goal represented the peak of my aspirations, and the fluke of fortune that won me employment at the hip, indie, basement record store — right out of High Fidelity — made the achievement possible.   

Then I joined the Peace Corps and by September 1998 had landed in a tiny Estonian village to teach English for the next two years. The CD collection of about 600 I’d amassed from Pure Pop’s employee discount, promotional copies and trades could not make the journey, save a fistful of “desert island discs” slipped into a Case Logic and a backpack. 

The rest of the collection took its own journey, staying tucked away in a variety of storage areas as I pursued collecting countries over the next two decades. In fact, most remained under literal wraps until 2023, when I finally was able to bring it all back home. By this point, the collection was much reduced. Many boxes had disappeared, some storage locations were forgotten or no longer existed, others discs were gifted and sold, and one box simply melted in the attic heat into plastic abstract art. Nevertheless, the 250 survivors now stand tall in the corner of my living room — the first time in 25 years.

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