Sunday, September 21, 2008

Slave To the iPod

I have a different relationship with my iPod than some people, I'm sure. I am looking to my iPod to help me achieve certain objectives...to help me reach maximum enjoyment and fulfillment potential from my music collection. It's a tall order, and really, the iPod (being that it is not alive and does not have free will) doesn't have the capacity to really do this. I have to do it using the iPod...figuring out how to load the iPod with the appropriate things at the appropriate time to accomplish maximum enjoyment/fulfillment potential.

Being that this is not an exact science, there has been a lot of trial and error. One thing that is a particular source of conflict in my brain is the Soundtrack to My Life (read below entry for definition/details). For most of the last year or two, I had the complete series of mixes loaded on my iPod. This was a really easy way to get most of the music from my past that I cared about at my fingertips without going through my CD collection disc by disc and then just picking the songs I wanted on there (granted, I had to make a series of almost 250 mix CDs to achieve that goal, but once you've read the entry on the subject you'll understand that this is the type of thing that I'm prone to). However, in addition to the entire Soundtrack project, I also had loaded on my iPod the better part of 100 or so albums that I had purchased/accumulated since the current 2004 cutoff of the aforementioned project. My iPod is 60 gigs, and I had filled up most of it at this point.

I was happy with this arrangement for a while. Really, anything I could have possibly wanted to listen to was at my fingertips. What could be better? I mean, that's what the iPod is for, right? Well, the problem was that I was so overwhelmed by what to listen to (even just narrowing the field down to the actual COMPLETE ALBUMS on the iPod, and cutting out the Soundtrack mixes altogether), that most of the time I would just put the damn thing on shuffle and take what I got. Mind you, this can be a really enjoyable thing at times, but it also just made me lazy. I went through a looong stretch of time where I was taking no deliberate action in terms of getting to know most of my recent acquisitions. If a song from, say, ALIEN LANES by Guided By Voices came up in the shuffle (I was a REALLY late bloomer with that band...a story for a future blog), great, but I could probably barely tell you what one or two of the other songs on the album were called or how the melody went.

So, something had to change.

I went through and whittled down the post-Soundtrack album count. I have around ten on there now. I also went through the Soundtrack project and cut out things that I didn't really want to come up on shuffle (there were moments during shuffle time where a particular song would come up and I'd just think, "No, no..."). All these things remain in my iTunes, so I can add them back in at any time.

This is a fluid process...I have a feeling things will change soon. I do know, however, that the current arrangement is better. I've been listening more to actual albums, and I've only been rocking the shuffle feature when I desperately need to hear something familiar (this shows you how dire the situation was...I was only barely familiar with most of the records I've bought in the last 3-4 years!).

So, coming up soon on the blog, the first entry in the "Soundtrack Spotlight" series...where I create a mixtape featuring music I was listening to during a certain year (they will be newly created mixtapes, using current mixtape format, and none of them will duplicate any disc already made for the larger Soundtrack project). I've got a couple in mind already that I want to do that really showcase where my listening was during a particular time. It's exciting stuff. Also, some time soon (probably after the Dr. Pants EP is finally released) I'm going to start Round 2 of the Mixtape Jones Project (some of you already know what that is...I'll repost my original MySpace blog on the subject before we start so you know what we're doing). If you were in on the project before, count on your mixtapes this time around being a tad more adventurous, musically...Be prepared to be challenged...

More soon...


1 comment:

Rodney said...

Man, you've been posting a bunch lately. I'm kind of "in the weeds" at the moment, with an Italian Renaissance test Monday. But I'm going to take a moment and read all these and comment soon.

Incidentally, I got a new iPod touch (came free with my laptop!!) and I'm really excited to be starting over. And, at only 8GB, I can really whittle and create something consistent and wonderful out of it. I'm trying to think of filling it as an art or pathway of discourse in itself.

Basically that means downloading a lot of obscure jangly British stuff from 1986, apparently.

Also, I have a mixtape I made for myself in 1989. It has some hilarious stuff on it. I guess, for lack of experimental music in my rural life, I made some myself by varying the speed on my turntable. To this day, the song "Tapioca Tundra" by The Monkees played on 16 rpm (my parents had a weird old turntable) sounds eerily right to me still.

1989 is the Golden Year for me, too. I can't let go of it.