The Black Forest

Random blaghness...

The Magic Shuffle...

I have an iPod. Like all old-schoolers I resisted for a while. Then I thought the stupidest thing is to resist the new age. The Digital Age. The Analog Age is dead and anything on that analog vine is gonna die eventually. Vinyl will die too. I love vinyl. But it only lives through nostalgia...and nostalgia is made from a generation of people who romanticize "how it used to be". When this generation is gone, so will be the nostalgia for it.

Now enough of the old days. What's going on now? The same thing that was always going on. Portability and convenience. That's right, the same old stuff. First you had to see live musicians or make music yourself. Then came cylinders and records. You could play that band or orchestra in your house! Then came the radio. You play in your house, outside, or in your car. Then 8-tracks and cassettes, smaller and even more portable and convenient. Sound? Who cares? Nobody minded AM radio in mono versus a real band when you could listen to it anywhere. Walkman and small crappy headphones were the newest best thing. You could jog to AC/DC! The came CD's, the lie of better sound, but really it was convenience again. It lasted longer, took less space. Then came digital files like mp3's. Again, much more portable, worse in sound but the trade off? Thousands of songs in the palm of your hand.

I have my entire record collection in my iPod except for my out of print vinyl. I can even put that on there if I want to spend the time. I have the old 160 gigabyte model. I have all my songs on the mp3 highest quality of 320kbps. Over 10,000 songs and movies, tv shows, cartoons, language books, all my lyrics in case I forget them on tour...*laughing* everything.

Do I hear a difference? Yes. I'm an engineer and producer. Do I care? Yes, but convenience wins and 320kbps sounds pretty darn good, at least better than a radio station going in and out and all those crappy commercials. When storage becomes even smaller, we won't even need to compress all the data, and eventually we'll be able to expand to 24bit sound rather than 16bit. It's all gonna happen in its sweet ol' time.

Now here's my favorite part of the portable player. "Shuffle". Having 10,000 songs doesn't mean you listen to all of them. We are habitual creatures. We play favorites. Shuffle/random play means anything goes. The Minutemen to Russian Orthodox Vespers by Rachmaninov to Loretta Lynn singing duets with Conway Twitty to Slayer to Captain Beefheart to Blondie to Bernard Herrmann to King Tubby to Serge Gainsbourg to The Stranglers to Candi Staton to Deerhoof to Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass to Sonny Boy Williamson to Ice-T to Neil Diamond get my point. I hear songs I might never hear if I was left to pick 'em. Some songs honestly I've never even heard, or remember. Amazing gems that make me go "Who the heck is that?! Awesome!!" Some songs that make me go..."Okay...when I get home I'm deleting that awful song!" In time, my music collection will just get better and better, finding beautiful obscurities like Les Baxter or odd happenings like a Bukowski reading a poem.

Yes! Everyone let's do the Shuffle! Skip the song if you don't want to hear it, but you might be surprised what you will want to hear. It might not be in your favorites. *smile*