Slightly Obsessive about Soundtracks
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I recently realized that most of my latest CD purchasesóand, actually, a good portion of my music purchases as a wholeóhave been soundtracks. I mulled this about for awhile as something halfway worthy of at least thought, if not on the edge of being worthy of worry. Was I getting, perhaps, a bit, wellóobsessiveóabout collections? Was I soon going to be so busy buying collections of music that I would lose my capacity to listen to a CD by a single artist all the way through?

Somewhere in the midst of my mindís buzzing about this issue I decided that the best way to determine if I was being obsessive would be to analyze why I buy so many. From there, of course, my neurotic brain would proceed to self-justification or to a determination to change
my habits. After much cogitation, here are a few of the reasons I came up with:

  1. More varied music for my money. My CD budget is quite a bit more limited than my book budget, since Iím more addicted to reading than listening. Soundtracks, in giving me a larger variety of music in one place, allow me to get more bang for the buck.
  2. I can get a summary of or introduction to a whole style of era of music compiled in a soundtrack or two. Sometimes I donít know enough about or like, say, jazz or the 60s, enough to buy all the key CDs from the important artist of an era or a style, so Iíll find a movie with key music of that type. Forrest Gump is a great soundtrack covering key American music of the 50s through the 70s, for instance. Buying this CD both fills a gap in my collection and introduces me to which artists I like more than others in those eras. It educates me quickly as to whether I want to buy more or not.
  3. I can avoid buying music I donít like. Sometimes you just like one song by an artist, but hate the rest of their stuff. If the song I like has been featured in a movie with other songs I like, it saves me from the waste of buying the artistís CD just for one song.
  4. I know what Iím getting with a movie soundtrack. Whenever I watch a movie, I find myself listening to the background music as well as paying attention to the other aspectsónot just because it complements the movie, but because I can find out most of the soundtrack songs ahead of time. When Iím buying a new CD in which only a couple songs have been played on the radio, Iím never quite sure what Iím getting. With a movie soundtrack, Iíve heard most of the sound and styles. Less unpleasant surprises this way.
  5. A chance to concentrate on the music on its own, apart from the movie. Music in a movie is still part of a movie, and if I enjoyed the music along with the movie, Iíll want to hear more, and in its raw form. By buying the soundtrack, I get to concentrate on the music alone, as the primary thing rather than as the background. This is especially enjoyable if the movieís done something to pull the music into a new work of art, as in the case of Moulin Rouge. When this is the case I often buy the soundtrack, and when I listen to it I remember the musicís place in the movie and also experience it as its own entity.
  6. Soundtracks keep me awake on the road. Since a movie often has various speeds of music in it to denote different moods, the soundtracks often flow well, but are varied enough to keep me awake while driving. Since much of my music listening is in the car, variation is key to keeping me from falling asleep on the road (the rest of you drivers should be thankful).
  7. As few CDs as possible. Because most of my listening is in the car, I like to have a variety of music, but condensed into as few CDs as possible. (If youíve ever tried to play DJ in rush hour traffic while drinking hot tea out of a travel mug, you may be able to relate.) Soundtracks are great for this, especially when Iím bored with my own mix CDs and being lazy about putting together more.

Having documented good, sound reasons for my slight obsession, I of course felt largely justified in my soundtrack purchases. All the same, I went online to my music club right away and assuaged what was left of my worry by buying a bunch of CDs Iíd been meaning to buy that had nothing to do with movies (buy one, get three free, after all). Having covered myself from all sides, I went on in peace. I knew Iíd find something else to worry about soon enough.

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