Thursday, July 1, 2010

So, there's a dilemma

A few weeks back I lost a friend. It was a combination satellite radio receiver and MP3 player. A gift from my wife, I at first didn't know what to think of it. I listened at the time to XM in my car and didn't really know what this thing would do in the house.

Oh, how I miss it.

I'd use it to fill the house with music, usually older pop for the kids' sake but often obscure classic rock. At times, I'd use it for classic country, which drove my lovely wife somewhat crazy. Sometimes I'd grade schoolwork to a baseball game I could stream from it.

I only tapped into the best feature in the past year or so. I'd record radio, and then play it back in my classroom. Since I can't stream anything online, and since I can't receive FM cleanly there, it ended up being my antidote to the white noise of the institutional HVAC. Usually I'd just play somewhat anonymous stuff from Deep Tracks and The Loft. On more inspirational days, I'd tie in the music with what I was teaching, i.e. 50s pop when covering the Eisenhower administration in class.

With that player I discovered a lot of music I'd never have otherwise stumbled upon.

Players like this are hard to find. The music and radio industry seems to have settled upon the iPod as the Alpha and Omega of all things audio. The sales people at Best Buy really want to steer you there, and from their point of view I can't blame them.

I'm trying the Pandora thing. It's not doing it for me.

I hesitate to submit to the predictability of the iPod for listening to my music. It seems one then submits to a fragmentary and unimaginative loop of music selection and purchase. I will forfeit the pleasure of recording something, then finding gems when I play it back. I'll forfeit the ease with which I could in one day transform the mood in my room. And I'll miss the spontaneity of recording a song with one touch that my kids perk their heads up to.

By the way, here are the best gems from my 2 1/2 years of recording:

  • "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," by Ed James (Not Waylon Jennings, and I can't find this recording on iTunes)
  • Harry Kalas calling the top of the 9th from the 2008 World Series, Game 5
  • "I'm not Lisa" by Jessie Colter
  • "Seven Nations Army" by White Stripes (I know it was popular 7 years ago . . . I just missed it)
  • "Gimme Shelter" by Rolling Stones (easy to find on iTunes, I know, but much more fun to discover from something you absent-mindedly recorded)

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