There are plenty of folks who are none too happy about the fact that, more and more, the gifts people actually want are measured in bytes. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who don’t mind the fact that all Boyfriend/Girlfriend wants this year is a paid subscription to Spotify (so they can instantly listen to any song they would ever want on their MP3 player/iPhone/etc.). That’s sure easy, isn’t it?
You bet it is. If you can do all your shopping by download and not even have to deal with the mailman, count your blessings, since the best part, by far, is that you don’t have to set foot in a retail store. What a horrible experience that is nowadays. Want an anecdote? This past weekend, Whatsername and I spent a Saturday bopping around at the mall and two big-boxes. What an ordeal, and not just the parking. Aisles completely blocked by too-large people in weather-balloon-sized jackets, breezily belching as they absently ponder impulse purchases, their oafish bulks preventing the lives of sentient organisms from moving along. No wonder George Romero set Dawn of the Dead at a mall, right?
But, like it or not, you have to be careful this year. When your kid tells you he or she wants the new album from such-and-so, make sure they aren’t asking for a $12 iTunes gift card. Same goes for books, of course, in the age of Kindle. And that’s enough examples for now, you get the point.
Of course, not every music gift one could give is downloadable. Maybe your ungrateful hellspawn is hoping to become a DJ someday, for example. For that person I might recommend a Pioneer CDJ-800MK2 Professional CD/MP3 Turntable (around $350 on Amazon.com), with which you can “scratch” CDs and MP3s and other samples. This one is getting more and more use in the clubs these days (the popular Serato Scratch Live is cheaper at around $300).
But never mind expensive electronics, which you’re probably sick of hearing about. The only reason you’re even reading this nonsense is that I may be able to come up with a few inexpensive CDs to use as stocking stuffers. Here are just a few.
For your mopey teen, who wishes they knew what 1982 really sounded like:
Staring at the Sea: The Singles by The Cure. Long before The Cure destroyed itself with “Friday I’m in Love,” there was a bunch of old stuff that was cool. That’s this.
For your long-haired heavy metal uncle: The Best of Jackyl: 20th Century Masters —The Millennium Collection by Jackyl. They used an actual chainsaw as a rhythm instrument. Doubles as a joke present.
For your tween daughter, who ONLY WANTS JUSTIN BIEBER CDS:
Barney's Favorites Vol. 1 by Barney. The evil Satan-hymns of this plush purple dinosaur-doofus will bum out little Marissa so bad she’ll just give up begging you to let her get that stupid tattoo. The ultimate gift to yourself.
For Grandpa: Duets (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) by Frank Sinatra. This brand-new remastered retrospective includes Sinatra’s duets with everyone from Tony Bennett to Bono. Note: These CDs will only work in rooms with wood paneling.
For your hipster friend: Too obvious — a gift certificate to Urban Outfitters, handed over surreptitiously so that no one will know the truth, which would ruin their cred (they'll use it, though, trust me). Your hipster friend isn’t really sure what he wants for his next “music-listening adventure,” but it’ll definitely be something idiotic, like that ukulele tribute to The Replacements. Buying a CD on impulse for a hipster is like trying to predict which direction a headless chicken will run.
For the twice-divorced soccer-mom next door who keeps flirting with your husband and never invites you to girls night out: Reign in Blood [Original Recording Reissued] by Slayer. Tell her you “could have sworn it was the new Katy Perry.” Watch the hijinks as she pretends to like it.
For your chipmunk-brained co-worker who "wants to get into country music a little more": Put down that Little Big Town CD this instant and go pick up Hank Williams: The Unreleased Recordings ($26 or so). Scratchy old roots bluegrass so totally hick, there's even a cover of "Hey Good Lookin'" on here, and most of the stuff comes from live feed-store-paid radio performances. This is sort of like dumping a schooner-load of starfish on someone who expressed a casual desire to try sushi, but we're in a hardcore age, let's face it.
Appeared in the Dec. 5, 2013 issue of the Hippo