rorschach data snapshots


I just synched up my ipod to the laptop and updated. It’s been about nine or so months since I got the bugger and changed the way I listen to music. My earliest memory of music was the Beatles ‘Revolution’ screaming out of my Dad’s high fi. That wailing guitar and primal shriek rang through my consciousness and I thought ‘ah, music.’ I was toddling when I could flip an Lp and gently place the needle in the groove. By the time I got to kindergarden I didn’t just know my ABC’s but all the songs of the Beatles by heart in addition to many of the Stones, Elton John (‘Rocket Man’ was my absolute fave rave when I was four. ‘Benny and the Jets’ was also tres’ awesome.) and whatever else I liked from the radio. My parents were around 23 when I started kindergarden in 1974 and they both had pretty good taste. I’ve long since claimed those records and they’re probably the only possessions that have followed me on my travels through life this far with the exception of a handful of my books. Even when Persi and I found ourselves in an absurdly desperate financial crisis of her families’ devising and had to have a yard sale to raise cash I let her sell a lot of things that were mine but forbade letting these records go for spare change. It was the right call. I still have the records.

We had an 8-track that I always thought was ridiculous so I don’t share the kitschy nostalgia that so many people who never experienced it the first time through have for it. The way it clunked, clicked and cut songs that were supposed to flow together was simply annoying and I was overjoyed at the advent of audio cassette tapes. The first personal computer I ever saw actually used a portable cassette recorder as it’s memory storage device. I recorded music off the radio, compilations of songs from records, mix tapes for girlfriends, and could carry exactly what I wanted to listen to around with me. Mix tapes became their own albums for certain groups of people-I recall ‘the tape’ that Lily had made that we listened to for what seemed like years. I particularly remember listening to that one when we would drive back from a night at Jukebox down in Oak Forest. It had ‘One Life’s Enough’ by the Who on it. There were a bunch of other really great songs on there. It was a soundtrack for that period of your life kind of mix tape.

Tapes like that took on an aura of artifacts as it was time-consuming to make them and duplicating them inevitably reduced sound quality. CD’s came along and didn’t solve that problem until personal computers could cheaply and quickly burn blank CD’s. Tapes were dead now that mix CD’s could be made and I found myself tearing off dozens of random compilations that I would scrawl ‘quantum stutter response’ or whatever on them and put them in the car. That way I could just throw in any disc and have a random selection of music from my sprawling collection.

I tried a couple of early portable digital music players but most of them sucked. Wulf is one of the earliest adapters I know and one of the first things he did with the proto Palm Pilots was to plug in headphones and put an mp3 program on it, so the idea of portable digital wasn’t anything new to me, but I really loved the Ipod. Wulf mocks me for it.

I have become fixated on the play count feature. These are the ten songs I play the most:

Go to the Mirror! -The Who
Little Fluffy Clouds-The Orb
Seven Seas of Rhye-Queen
Free Four-Pink Floyd
The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell-David Bowie
The Song Remains the Same-Led Zeppelin
7(acoustic version) Prince
1983 (a Merman I Should Turn to Be)-Jimi Hendrix
Sexcrime (1984)-Eurythmics      

The songs I skip the most are:
Dead On It-Prince
That’s the Way Love Is-Poi Dog Pondering
Martin Scorsese-King Missle
Accidentally Like a Martyr-Warren Zevon
What’s He Building in There?-Tom Waits
In Between Days (shiver mix)-The Cure
If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out-Death By Chocolate
Bela Lugosi’s Dead-Bauhaus
Dropping Some NYC-Blues Traveler
Afternoons and Coffeespoons-Crash Test Dummies

The songs that have a median play count, putting them right in the middle of my least and most listened to are:
Give a Man a Fish-Arrested Development
Panic in Detroit-David Bowie
Andy Warhol (live)-David Bowie
Brand New Day-Eurythmics
She Watch Channel Zero-Follow For Now
Ring of Fire-Johnny Cash
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot-Johnny Cash
Sat In Your Lap-Kate Bush
Power & Glory Pt II-Lou Reed
Psalm 69-Ministry
For Pete’s Sake-The Monkees
Mirror to My Woman’s Mind-Peter Murphy

The most recent albums I have loaded in are:
Patti Smith-12
Various-Tribute to Joni Mitchell
This American Life Uncut
Michael Franti & Spearhead-Yell Fire!
Mavis Staples-We’ll Never Turn Back
Wilco-Kicking Television (Live in Chicago)
The Beatles-Love
Kate Bush-Aerial
The Arcade Fire-The Arcade Fire
*(I had neglected to notice a ton of stuff I recently grabbed from Sam and Miss Mayweather that didn’t have dates on it. There’s lots of new stuff in there. The above are mostly actual CD’s I bought or borrowed and ripped recently. ) 

I only listen to pop music on the ipod shuffle as cutting jazz and classical pieces into snippets isn’t the way I like to listen to them so I didn’t include them in the above counts. However, the non-pop music I listen to most frequently are here:
Glenn Gould-Goldberg Variations
John Coltrane-My Favorite Things
Kronos Quartet-Kronos Quartet Performs Phillip Glass
Phillip Glass-Koyaanisqatsi
Gorecki-Symphony #3
Part-Tabula Rasa
John Cale-Eat/Kiss (Music for the Films of Any Warhol)
Miles Davis-Sketches of Spain
Shelia Chandra-This Sentence is True (The Previous Sentence is False)
Vangelis-Blade Runner

In a way this is tremendously depressing. I never wanted to be one of those guys who is musically locked in a moment they can’t get out of, but when I look at my top ten most played songs I see the pantheon of classic rock mocking my supposedly postpunk outlook. Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, and the Who? Queen? Is this who I am? The newest cut on there is a Bowie tune from 1999. The newest band on there is from the early 90’s. I need new music. Tell me what you like. Help me before I find myself complaining about these kids and their baggy pants.  

3 Responses to “rorschach data snapshots”

  1. Don’t feel too old… a LOT of the music today is directly or indirectly copied from the older tunes anyway. This is especially annoying to those of us who can easily pick out snippets of melody or riffs from earlier songs. I’d rather hear the original in most cases.

  2. ACK!! That’s EXACTLY what an old person would say!!!!

    Of course, James Brown almost always sounds better when he’s not being used to make some lame rap record half groovy.

  3. LOL – in our defense (as old people) we (you, me, a lot of our friends) actually listen to a lot of music that’s waaaaay before our time. So when I say I’d rather hear the originals, I’m talking ORIGINAL, LOL!!!

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