I'd love to continue the path I've been following since early adolescence, when my full membership in the rock-lover's club began. But I'm just not sure I can afford it anymore.
Time was, being a music freak was an economically feasible indulgence. You could feed your jones for a few hundred bucks a month, and still have some spare change around this time of year to toss in the Salvation Army coffers on your way out of the supermarket.
But that particular ship seems to have sailed, and its journey gives every appearance of being the one-way variety.
Let's say you have a fairly refined musical taste that you've worked hard to develop over time. Your reward? What's left of the music industry would like to repay your loyalty by milking you dry.
Let's check the numbers.
The new Rolling Stones "Some Girls" super deluxe edition box set is a good place to start. Every Stones fan knows this is a must-have. Many would insist that the 1978 effort represents the last time the band actually released a perfect record. Aside from the recent "Exile On Main St." deluxe affair, this would seem to be the one we've been waiting for -- two CDs, with a whole album's worth of "new" discoveries tacked on to what is already a sublimely sleazy "rawk" record, plus a DVD of relevant clips and performances and a beautiful book documenting the Stones at their most elegantly wasted. There's also a reproduction of the single that never made it out onto the market: The original "Beast of Burden/When the Whip Comes Down" 45 single was banned.
Gotta have it, right? I hope your stock portfolio is in good shape, then. The thing has a list price of $189.99.
Just like "Some Girls" is to the Stones, U2's 1991 "Achtung Baby" is quite likely the last perfect record the Irish quartet made. It just got its 20th anniversary treatment and includes a deluxe edition with six CDs, four DVDs, an 84-page book with all sorts of Anton Corbijn prints, 16 frameable art pieces, a knockoff pair of Bono's "Fly" wraparound shades, a facsimile of a relevant issue of the band's "Propaganda" fan magazine, and assorted other swag.
It's an impressive affair. The price is pretty impressive, too -- a list of $597.99 is necessary to gain admittance into U2's personal Playboy Mansion.
If you believe that the Stones and U2 boxes are worth owning, than the odds are high that you also consider Pink Floyd to be one of the most significant musical acts of the past 50 years. "Wish You Were Here" -- for my money, the band's most grand masterpiece among several masterpieces -- follows the recent "Dark Side Of the Moon" Immersion Box Set format with a nifty package encompassing four CDs, one DVD, a booklet, an art print and a bunch of tchotchkes from the band's original tour for that 1975 album. The music sounds absolutely amazing, the "new" live tracks and alternate versions are sublime, and the presentation beautiful. This one's a bit more reasonable, listing for $149.99.
There are also new deluxe editions of the Who's "Quadrophenia" ($169.99), the Beach Boys' "Smile Sessions" ($169.99) and Derek and the Dominoes' "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" ($119.98). All of these are worth owning.
If you agree, you're probably considering buying a ticket for the recently announced reprise of Roger Waters' presentation of "The Wall" in concert, which takes place June 21 in the First Niagara Center. You'll want a really good seat, too, because this show represents the absolute pinnacle of the theatrical rock experience -- it's a mind-blower, both musically and visually.
Unfortunately, that top ticket will put you out $199, plus, if you order over the phone or via the Internet, a $19 "convenience fee" and an "order fee" of $3 per ticket. So the best seats to see Waters perform "The Wall" are going for $221 each. I'm guessing you'd like to take a date along, too. If you're interested, you'd be well-advised to act before the holidays, since this show is more than likely to sell out.
So, loyal, thoughtful and incurable music lover, let's add up your list of indulgences: $189.99 (Stones), plus $597.99 (U2), $149.99 (Pink Floyd), $169.99 (The Who), $169.99 (Beach Boys), $119.98 (Derek and the Dominoes) plus $442 (for two tickets for Waters' "The Wall").
Your grand total? $1,639.93.
If you can afford this, I'm guessing you left the rock 'n' roll lifestyle in your past a long time ago.
So who does this wonderful music belong to now? Wall Street?