I was ten or so years old when I got my first CD player. By this time, the price had come down from when they were first released and that was one of the things on my Christmas list that year. The portable Discman was still too pricey for my parents and the anti-skip technology was still too far in its infancy to be any good. The fanciest thing about it was you had the ability to program about 20 tracks at a time make your own playlist out of one disc.
The first CD I got from my parents that Christmas was Europe’s The Final Countdown. I remember they gave it to me unwrapped for some reason, Mom had pulled it out from underneath the couch and handed it to me. Maybe it was to not ruin the surprise if I opened that gift first. Who knows?
With Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket, I went to the mall and bee-lined it to the music store. This was the kind of store where tapes were still around, vinyl was on its way out, and the CDs were slowly taking up more and more floor space. There was nothing warm about the store, an assault on the senses with its over-hyped visual merchandising and warehouse-like fluorescent lighting. I don’t remember spending a lot of time in the store that day, but I remember there being a major decision to make.
A couple of days before I went to the mall, I “researched” what CD I wanted to buy to make sure I had enough money on hand. MTV heavily influenced my spending habits back then and Madonna’s True Blue videos were in heavy rotation. If it wasn’t the sexy outfit in “Open Your Heart”, then it was the strapless dress in “La Isla Bonita” or even the antiabortion anthem “Papa Don’t Preach”. There was no escaping Madonna in 1986, she was pretty much everywhere. With that in mind, I had decided that the first purchase I would make for my new CD player would be Madonna…and then I got to the music store.
I brought along some extra cash (just in case I was an idiot when trying to figure out the sales tax) and grabbed the Madonna CD. Heading up to the cash register I saw USA For Africa’s We Are The World CD. Honestly, it kinda tugged at my heartstrings a little bit. For one shining moment I thought that my CD purchase would be able to make a change in the world. That my purchase would put food on the table for a couple of kids that were my age in Ethiopia. I began to feel, what I now know as, like I had a social conscience and responsibility.
After much deliberation, I found it in my heart and wallet to buy both CDs that day.
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