It has ended
Earlier today, for unknown reasons, my iPod stopped shuffling, after playing the song “Around the World” by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Thankfully, my iPod still provided me with one more incredible act of coincidence before this sad turn of events.
Hallie and I were going to Chicago and I was breezing through songs on Shufflaganza. We had passed the last exit in Indiana and we we on the “Chicago Skyway” that links Indiana and Chicago. As we followed the bend of the highway, the Sears Tower and the rest of the Chicago skyline came into view and shrill fifes and bombastic horns came through my car’s speakers and the voice of Sufjan Stevens began to sing “Come on, Feel the Illinoise” as we crossed the border.
Perhaps this was the last gasp of my iPod, knowing that, only two days later, on song number 2121 of 4079, it would stop.
Song number 2000! Just about halfway there.
I also must admit that shufflaganza is getting “under my skin.”
Commence the obligatory laugh the Brits do when they make a pun.
I’ve always been the type of guy to finish one book before starting another, to skip a good movie on HBO if I’ve already missed the beginning, and to listen to my albums all the way through without skipping—at least until I have a good feel for the album as a whole. Now that I have begun shufflaganza, the fact that I can’t turn on an album has really highlighted their value to me.
A proper album by a band conscious of their art will display a coherent style and hopefully a theme, even if it isn’t a “concept album.” Albums, to use a literary analogy, are like a collection of short stories. Not like those huge anthologies from Intro to American Lit, but like the collections that authors themselves choose to write. A Good Man is Hard to Find, or Dubliners. The stories have different casts and plots but the collections have a unified theme. A few albums come to mind which fit the description: The Suburbs, by Arcade Fire; Let Live and Let Ghost, by Jukebox the Ghost; and The Shepherd’s Dog, by Iron and Wine. These albums explore themes and tell stories, and some are properly called concept albums. On the other hand, some albums are just the best songs a band can throw together. That is no discredit to the band or the album, as most bands make their albums this way, but those albums still betray a distinct style that the band will hopefully depart from for their next album.
Splitting albums with shuffle destroys all that art and style by tearing it out of context. Evoking the disillusion of suburbia for 5 minutes is nothing compared to evoking it for 45. Listening to a song from Led Zeppelin 2 then a song from In Through the Out Door, it would be difficult to imagine the melodica infused crooning from the latter was by the same band as the brittle hard rock of the former were it not for Plant’s distinct vocals.
Since I’ve started this post I’ve listened to maybe seven songs, each a jarring transition. Dr. Dog to Islands to Vivaldi to Nintendo to Zeppelin and now on to and Enya song from The Fellowship of the Ring. If only I could just sink my teeth into an album, hear a band’s message in full, and listen to them explore their style at a particular moment of their career.
My current location in Shufflaganza, also a significant date in US history. If only 1812 Overture had come up. I wonder if my iPod can conjure up some interesting coincidences on that level. “Closing Time” as the last song, perhaps. Or maybe I’ll have a lollipop at hand for Mika’s famous song. Only time will tell.
I have now listened to fifteen hundred songs on shufflaganza, a fair fraction over one third of my music. It is now time to reminisce.
I remember, once upon a time, I had this device that stored all my music and fit in my pocket. It even had a touch screen which I used mostly to check my math when I tipped out at restaurants. I could choose to listen to any song I wanted to at any time of the day!
Now I’m sporting the same device but I haven’t played exactly what I’ve wanted to hear for a few months now. I won’t even use the calculator on it for fear of accidentally turning shuffle off. It’s terrifying to turn on my iPod knowing that one slip of the finger will turn shuffle off and send me back to song 1 of 4076.
There have been some fun times though, and some strange times. I only have two albums by Interpol, yet my iPod played two of their songs in a row, 2 out of 20 out of 4000. I wonder what those odds are. If only I trusted my iPod enough to plug in some factorials.
Just came up on the shuffle. Song 1358. I can’t imagine a better way to refresh this blog than with this stunner from the best television-related album I happen to own.
I hit the benchmark of the 666th song on my iPod the other day. It was “Windsurfing Nation” by Broken Social Scene. I wonder if I play it backwards…
My iPod has been very fond of playing video game music today. I’ve been jaunting around Hyrule, infiltrating military bases, and walloping Nintendo characters all day. At the end of it all though, I chose to share this video with you. Consider it a meta-music video. The moving images are made from vinyls. The video is made by a medium of music. Enjoy!
It’s been a long while since I updated you all on my misadventures in music. Forgive me, my thriving and heartbroken readers, and allow me to make it up to you.
To be quite honest, Shufflaganza is going along at a slower pace than I anticipated. I am at a solid 634/4079, but that’s after a whole month of listening. Wish me luck as Sufjan serenades me.
Yesterday I reached a benchmark in Shufflaganza—410 songs! That is one tenth of the way to listening to my entire iTunes library on shuffle.
In other news, my iPod has been infatuated with the Beatles and Broken Social Scene lately. I wonder if it has resolved to go in alphabetical order backwards beginning with Calvin Harris. I have one album by Calvin Harris but I’ve already heard half of it.