Set To Random or I Love My IPod!
I love my IPod, I really do. The simple joy of having EVERY song in the history of recorded music ready to go at my command is kind of nice. The problem is that sometimes there are just things I’m not interested in hearing at any given moment, so I end up skipping through tracks just to get to one song that makes me go “A-HA!”. Now I could edit what is on my IPod and take out certain items, but why would I do that? I might actually want to listen to those songs at a different point in time. Better to have those songs on there just in case such a moment arrives. Honestly, I am more likely to add music to my IPod than remove any of it. It’s just the nature of the beast. So what if I have to spend a minute or two to get to something I want to listen to, in the end I still get to it.
It is more a matter of finding a song I know I won’t skip at all, that’s the key. Finding a song that you, as a listener, hear the opening chords to and know that you will play through to the end. There are tons of songs I love but only a few that don’t get skipped at all. Let’s use an example. I love The Beatles, but I am more likely to skip over some of their material, but if “Surrender” by Cheap Trick pops up then that song gets full listening privileges with me. “Surrender” is just one of those simple great Pop songs, hell it might just be The Perfect Pop Song. What is my criteria for that? Simple, I never skip past it. It doesn’t matter the mood I’m in, or the place I’m in. If “Surrender” comes on, it gets listened to. You know what’s even better? I’d say 9 times out of 10, after “Surrender” plays, the IPod goes on a good to great run of songs that have that perfect balance of flow and music I want to hear. It’s like “Surrender” is the Overture so to speak, it warms me up for a great run of songs.
There are other songs and musical pieces I never skip. The overture to the opera Carmen comes to mind as well as another piece from that same opera in “Votre Toast“. “Votre Toast” almost makes want to take up bullfighting as a profession, until I remember that my reflexes kinda suck and I’ve got a bum knee. Also the thought of playing “chicken” with 1000+ pounds of raging bull would probably make me mess my shorts so fast it isn’t even funny. I think the basic message of “Votre Toast” is what makes Bullfighting seem so appealing. That message? Toreadors (and Soldiers) get laid. Toreadors get laid a lot. Toreadors get laid so much that they feel the need to burst into song about it and have people congratulate them on how often they get laid. Sure that is some pretty intense ego-maniacal behavior, but if your job of choice involves you dodging an enraged animal and then have the balls to stick spears in it, well my friend you deserve every little piece of trim you can get AND deserve to have people sing about it. This doesn’t mean I condone bullfighting. I’ve been to exactly one bullfight and I never want to see another. Not only is it pretty unpleasant to watch but the bathrooms in the arena were quite possibly the toilets I’ve ever encountered. Like worse than the Yankee stadium bathroom in the 70s bad. Why my parents thought taking a child to a bullfight when they went to Portugal was a good idea I’ll never know. Hell, I’ll never know why thought taking me to Portugal in the first place was a good idea.
But back on point, my IPod is jammed with a lot of music and I’d say that I skip 50% of what the playlist brings up on any given day. There isn’t any rhyme of reason to what I skip, it can be completely random. Let’s use the last few songs that my ITunes picked out. I skipped “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window” by The Beatles, “GSG” by Shaka Labbits and “Kiss” by Prince. That’s 3 songs I do actually like listening to but opted to skip. The 4th song I let play. That song? Amazingly it was “Billy Don’t Lose My Number” by Phil Collins. What was it about THAT song that made me let it play? I honestly don’t know. “Billy Don’t Lose My Number” isn’t even close to being my favorite Phil Collins song. I actually skipped 3 songs I like better than the one I ended up listening to. The thing is that the decision to listen to that song led to a run of great songs that included selections from Shonen Knife, Yoko Kanno, Blondie, Bjork and Stevie Wonder. The sheer randomness of my playlist makes for an amazingly eclectic sampling of musical artists that is for sure. For fuck’s sake, I even have one Avril Lavigne song on there which just further proves I will listen to most anything!
I am glad I don’t keep myself pigeon-holed with just one genre of music. Listening to music should be like eating food, you should try everything. Some things will agree with your palette, others won’t. But more often than not you are going to like what you try. If I were to listen to 10 songs I’ve never heard before there is a very good chance I’d walk away enjoying half those songs. There would be a 50% chance of me asking about some of the artists so I could do some research on them and listen to more of their material. Its just how my brain works. Hell most of the bands I listen to these days I end up listening to based on recommendations of other people. Do you think I ended up listening to Japanese SKA bands like GOLLBETTY and MidnightPumpkin by accident? Fuck no, those were recommended to me by others. OK there are some musical acts I have stumbled across by accident, like the Hungarian metal band that only covers Frank Sinatra songs, but that is the dumbest of dumb luck.
I guess the question that pops in my head as I write this is: If Music does soothe the savage beast, does the savage beast care if you have your playlist set to random?
I know that my inability to let the IPod just play what pops up probably stems from my ADD. I need something to listen to but it has to grab me and hold my attention. It is the same with reading a book. Hundreds upon hundreds of exposition will lead to me putting a book down, never to be read again. Provided, reading a book is a much larger commitment mentally than listening to a 3-5 minute pop song. Unless it is Coldplay, listening to Coldplay is an agonizing experience. I’d be a terrible spy because if I were captured by the Red Chinese Communists all they would have to do is make listen to some Coldplay and I’d spill everything I know just to make them stop playing it. That shit is like mental barbed wire!
The point of this little discussion is that I really love my IPod. I love its complete and utter randomness. Hell why shouldn’t I? I’m the one that put the damned music on it after all. Just because there are certain things I skip when the IPod pulls them up doesn’t mean I don’t like them. I’ll get around to listening to them, just let me get to something else right now. Something that will stimulate my brain and cause a great big smile to cross my face. Hell that something can be “Easy Street” from the musical Annie or “The Weight” by The Band. Just find it fast or my general impatience will grow exponentially with every passing second. Play anything… except Coldplay. If somehow Coldplay somehow ends up on my IPod then I have to throw the damn thing away and get a new one. That shit is like Herpes, it’ll just keeping popping again no matter how many times you get rid of it.
So as I wrap this up “And She Was” by The Talking Heads plays and I find myself in a most excellent mood. I promise you, this article isn’t a exercise in “look what I listen to aren’t I cool”. I know I’m not cool, I just have weird music taste. Hey! Look at that! That makes sixteen more songs since “Billy Don’t Lose My Number” that I let play and not a single skip. Let’s see how long this I can keep up. It’s switching as we speak and who knows if my ADD will like what comes next. Please oh brain of mine, just stick with it for now. We’re on a roll and I’d like to keep it that way… Oh look at that! It’s “Surrender” by Cheap Trick. Life couldn’t be more perfect nor more ironic and I do love irony!