Kind of as a follow-up to my previous post about R.E.M.’s overpriced Automatic For The People 4-CD set, I was thinking about how this isn’t exactly without precedent. Back in 1991, I was a poor college sophomore and in what can only be described as a fit of insanity, I picked up the 4-CD Barbra Streisand box set Just For the Record… for $60 at the Ames Target. I can still remember that my friend Jeff was with me and I was just dipping my toe in to the river Streisand and decided why not just jump in? I remember feeling like I had just spent a zillion dollars. I will never forget standing there, hemming and hawing, bargaining with myself saying that if I sold my textbooks back like I was planning to, that would easily cover the cost of the box set. Even though I always thought the packaging made it look like a feminine hygiene product, I’m very glad that I bought it because it really was what pushed me into Streisand fandom which culminated last year when I finally saw her live.
So $60 in 1991 dollars is surely at least $90 in 2017 dollars, right? I plugged it into the inflation app on my phone and, sure enough, $60 in 1991 is equivalent to roughly $107 in 2017 dollars. Maybe my complaining was unjustified. Perhaps $90 for the Automatic For The People deluxe edition isn’t so bad after all.
I was talking to my friend Steve and he found the flaw in my theory. Just For The Record… was a huge career retrospective with many unreleased gems from the Streisand vault, whereas Automatic For The People is a single album. Granted, there’s a concert and demos but no B-sides or anything to the extent that Streisand provided on Just For The Record… Still, for all my talk about not buying it, I probably still will end up with it.
Back in the day, I made a mix tape of my favorite tracks on the set. Miraculously, the track list of that mix tape has survived 26 years and I recreated it tonight as a Spotify playlist. I am sure I was the only man on the Iowa State campus that was listening to Barbra Streisand on his Walkman back then, but that’s me all over.