A few years ago, I decided to rip every CD I owned, even the weird ones, into iTunes. I still have all the CDs; they're in Crate and Barrel bags in a storage locker downstairs.
I'm pretty sure the first CD I bought for myself was a cheap Beach Boys compilation called The Best of the Beach Boys. But I know for sure that the first CD I owned came as a gift from my parents, who also got me a CD player (I like to think of it as a "boom box") for my birthday. I think I was 11 or 12. The CD was Weird Al's Food Album. This is his compilation of food-themed parodies: "I Love Rocky Road," "My Bologna," "The White Stuff" (about Oreos), etc. Embarrassing, yeah, but my parents weren't wrong to get it for me. I listened to that CD a lot, especially when it was the only one I had.
For some reason, my mom let me join one of those music-by-mail clubs. I have no idea why she thought this was okay, since there was little she wasn't skeptical about. I happily joined, and doing so did greatly expand my CD collection, sometimes for the better. I knew so little about modern music when I signed up for my "10 CDs for 1¢" that I just guessed at some of the selections. I wonder, did the people boxing up my discs have any idea that they were sending Amy Grant's House of Love and Nirvana's In Utero to a nerdy sixth grader?
Today, I have similarly eclectic taste in music, though I know it's kind of a cop-out to say so, and I am not listening to much Amy Grant or Nirvana anymore. Some of the albums I collected in my middle school years are still favorites – I will never get tired of Boyz II Men's II, an album I've lost and purchased again more than once. And there are CDs that I rediscovered when the need to digitize became unavoidable. I never really fell in love with a hip hop album until Speakerboxx, but something (likely "Killing Me Softly") possessed me to get the Fugees' The Score when it came out. Today, Lauryn Hill and Nas are R&B and Rap Royalty, respectively, and Wyclef Jean might be president of Haiti, and I am finally able to appreciate the rest of The Score. And all I have to do is click a button on my computer screen. Pretty sweet.