Due to a recent moving around of folders on my hard drives, I had to reload all of the music I had in my iTunes library. Since I had stuff in a number of different folders on each of my drives, not only did I find almost everything that was there before, but I also discovered stuff I had completely forgotten about. And frankly, I'm having a hard time trying to remember how and when I got most of this lost stuff.
I don't think there's an element of surprise that I found a lot of Jimmy Eat World demos, B-sides, and live tracks circa 2000 and 2001. What is surprising is how much material I had. The search for the then-unreleased "Sweetness" led me to Napster, along with other unreleased material by my favorite bands at the time.
At that time, I thought Napster was a haven for people like myself who wanted something beyond just the album: those hard-to-find B-sides, along with live tracks and alternate versions and so on. Of course, as I've written elsewhere, within a few weeks of believing that, a whole bunch of other people around me used Napster for other reasons. (I don't mean that in a snotty way -- it's just that I realized that major record labels might have a problem with the file-sharing of commercially-released albums.)
A lot of these MP3s were downloaded between my college days and my first two years in Dallas. Some of this stuff has not been played in well over five years. Stuff like a not-so-great-sounding-but-great-performance of the Weakerthans' "Aside," a six-song live set from the Doves, Wilco demos that I have no idea what era they're from, songs I downloaded from Can You See the Sunset? and Jefitoblog, and so on.
So, this makes me wonder, is this the digital equivalent of digging in a bin in an old record store? Sort of, but not necessarily. With more CD stores closing, I wonder if this is way things will be from here on out. I don't think this signals the end of the world as a music fan. I just find things being not the same.