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iPod Problems

ipod_shuffle

After 7 years, I’ve finally been faced with a problem I’ve been dreading for some time. I bought my 60 GB iPod Classic in September of 2006, a birthday present to myself. I had been using the first gen iPod Shuffle (remember this thing?) and I had way more music than could fit on there so I splurged. It’s been a chunky little survivor, living through drops and spills and even traveling to several different countries with me. My iPod was one of my most treasured possessions when I studied abroad because it allowed me to learn about myself as I learned about the world. At times, it functioned as a soundtrack to beautiful foreign landscapes. Other times, it was a translator; but a social one rather than a foreign language one. I remember the exact moment in Spain when the hipster students from Oregon accepted me as a cool person (thank you, Meters).

I’ve got two options: buy a new iPod or start to limit what I put on mine. If I bought a new one, I’d go with the newest gen iPod Classic which has over 2.5x the space as my current, so I wouldn’t run out of room for easily 10 years, at the very least. They cost around $250 though, which is a little pricey. So picking and choosing what goes on my iPod looks to be the winning solution.I’m getting sentimental. In a strictly functional sense, my iPod has been perfect; no frills, just space. And this year, my music library has finally grown larger than 60 GB. This has led to some serious soul searching.

But how to even begin? I see two viable options for this harrowing process:

  1. Choose the least listenable
  2. Choose the most listenable

Let me break this down. In terms of starting big and narrowing down, the main pro is that it’s easier to add new music to the collection. With my eMusic subscription, my collection grows by 3-6 albums a month, and you can’t tell whether or not an album will become a must-have-on-iPod after two listens. That comes with time and album absorption. The main problem with starting big and narrowing is that choosing what to cut is nearly impossible. When I first hit the limit earlier this year, my first cut was easy: all Christmas music. I think it was around March, and it didn’t hurt to lose about a gig’s worth of space for holiday-themed songs. But then once I hit the limit again, then it became a question of what do I listen to least? My next cut was (almost) all my live albums. This was another good cut because live albums are usually longer than an average studio record. But again, I’ve long since hit that limit.

Since this is a cyclical process, what do I cut? Do I go with artists with the most albums? Frank Sinatra’s an easy target, that cuts down like 20 albums right there. Eric Clapton is another good one, as is Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Al Green, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ray Charles, etc. But some of these are my favorite artists, who have written some of my favorite songs. And as my Top 1000 is a list I occasionally like to shuffle at work or in the car, I can’t just do an immediate chop of all the artists who have lots of albums. I could cut by genre, but then you get into the impossible genre-categorization game. Are the Beatles pop or rock? How about Stevie Wonder, pop or soul? Or Stevie Ray Vaughan, blues or rock? This kills me. If I wipe out jazz, I’m not only knocking out all the “traditional” jazz artists (Davis, Coltrane, Monk, Hancock, Guaraldi, etc.), I’m cutting out Jamie Cullum, Norah Jones, and Madeleine Peyroux. All of whom have songs in my Top 1000, so I’m already limiting my favorite playlist if I lose all their albums.

I love thinking about this so much. I should go be a library cataloger.

So the alternative, which I think I’m leaning towards, would be to start with nothing and add in what’s most important. I think I’d start with every album represented in my Top 1000 playlist. Maybe even any album that’s got a song with more than 10 or 15 plays makes the cut. Then from there, maybe look at genre, artist, or album I’m currently listening to most. For the last two months, it had been folk/pop/rock from the ’60s/’70s/’80s (Eagles, James Taylor, Wings, Cat Stevens, America, Doobies, Elton, Billy Joel, Harry Nilsson, etc.), before that it was funk/soul/R&B from the ’60s/’70s/’80s (Funkadelic, Curtis Mayfield, Earth, Wind & Fire, Parliment, Ohio Players, Prince, Sly & The Family Stone, etc.), and now I’m moving into a phase of jazz from ’50s/’60s/’70s. After the jazz is on, I’ll probably add the last six to twelve month’s worth of albums most recently added. I like to keep that stuff fresh because if I’m not listening to it, what’s the point of buying it? I’ll probably top off the iPod with randoms from there on out, albums I love that somehow didn’t make one of the other addition rounds. And then if there’s room, Christmas music. December is coming up fast…

Thank you for reading what is, possibly, the most niche post I’ve ever written.

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itunes update.

a few days ago, colleen left for romania. she’s there three weeks, which means we won’t be able to talk at all. obviously, this is a sucky and huge bummer. luckily for me, two things happened today that will make these weeks fly right by.

1. i procured, basically, the entire the ricky gervais show series. i am so excited. the show is just these three english guys chatting about whatever. honestly, they talk about everything. world events, animals, philosophy, scientific theories, movies, their daily routines, etc. the most random stuff in the world. and it’s about the funniest thing i’ve ever heard.

2. the time of the month has come again for another itunes update. i’d been looking forward to this one for a while now, as i knew there were going to be some serious changes to my Top 100. the last month i went through a gigantic michael jackson phase. i got the album bad and went to town on it, off the wall, and thriller. did a lot of rhythmic walking those weeks. colleen also sent me jack johnson’s latest album, sleep through the static. i listened to that quite a bit. then the last few days i’ve been in a bit of a ben folds thing, but i’m feeling a daft punk period coming on. and other than mj, jack johnson, and ben folds, i listened to the odd album or song here and there.

the ipod has been plugged in and the changes have been noted. i think a fair amount has changed too. first of all, there are now 6 songs that have peaked over a playcount of 100, and 3 more that are really close to it. other than that, my overall Top 100 has changed a lot. obviously i’m not gonna go into much more detail than that, what a bore. but it’s been interesting for me to see what new tunes have shown up, how older tunes have gone up in rank, etc. and that’s about it. this might be the last update i do, since the next one i would do i’ll be back in the states. i think i’ll continue keeping my play counts hidden until a designated day of the month, but probably no more blogs about it. i like how my music listening has changed slash improved since i’ve been here in spain, and i would like to stick with it once i’m back in the states. but to end this one, here’s my current Top 10 Most Played list:

10. Around the World / Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger – Daft Punk
9. I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You) – John Mayer
8. Heart Of The City (Ain’t No Love) – Jay-Z
7. Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
6. Good Life – Kanye West feat. T-Pain
5. Slow Dancing In A Burning Room
4. Lesson Learned (feat. John Mayer) – Alicia Keys
3. Flashing Lights – Kanye West feat. Dwele
2. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) – Michael Jackson
1. Baby Be Mine – Michael Jackson

newest addition: billie jean. let’s have some love for mj.

-jon

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itunes update.

another month has passed, so here’s another itunes play count update. the only notable thing the first half of the month was fly or die by n.e.r.d. spent awhile on that album, just revisiting it. it’s so great. and then for like the last two weeks straight, all i’ve listened to is jay-z. my good friend and music collaborator gave me the blueprint, jay-z’s 2001 album. i hate to be jumping on the bandwagon seven years late, but it is absolutely incredible. in the last week and a half, i’ve listened to it like crazy, along with the black album, kingdom come, american gangster, and for the last two or three days, reasonable doubt. other than blueprint, i’d already digested all these albums (except reasonable doubt, which i’m warming up to finally) at other times, so i haven’t felt bad about throwing them all into party shuffle and letting it do it’s thing. i’ve done a bit of skipping, but for the most part i feel like i’ve listened to a lot of the songs i would normally skip over way way more than normal, along with giving a few tunes far more attention. here are the noteworthy songs i’ve really been into.

off american gangster:
1. pray – hardly ever skip over this one when it comes up. it’s a newfound gem off this album. i had passed it over quite a bit when i really first digested this album, but the beat now is just killing me. so forceful. sounds like an army’s coming for you.
2. roc boys (and the winner is)… – fell in love with it again. it’s shot up to #25 Most Played in my whole itunes. the horns, oh man the horns in this tune are just so good. and jay totally kills it.
3. i know – if i ever start to think pharrell isn’t that good, i’ll throw this tune on. such a great beat. can’t believe i didn’t listen this thing to death the first time through AG. love it.

off the black album:
1. december 4th – obviously. there is too much and not enough to say about this tune. it’s possibly my fav. jay song. too good.
2. public service announcement (interlude) – i don’t know why, but up until two days ago, i never liked this tune all that much. and then i was at the gym on thursday morning, the song started and i instantly fell in love with it. such a weird thing to fall for a tune that abruptly. the beat is such a pump up, and jay again totally nails the rhymes. phenom.

off kingdom come:
1. oh my god – this just blaze beat has really gotten to me. so much fun. “what doesn’t kill me makes me strong as iron”. you win jay.
2. 30 something – killer beat. jay getting his grown man on. love it.
3. beach chair – the garbage can drums (thanks adam) sound so awesome, and the melody here is great. i wish chris martin made more non-coldplay music. so far i’ve loved both non-coldplay songs he’s done, i think it’d be great if he kept it up. as far as jay’s subpar rhyming this album, i’d say this song is as close as he comes to his hey-day rhyming.

off reasonable doubt:
1. feelin’ it – just a laid back groove. i like it.
2. regrets – same thing. killer groove, great rhymes. i think this album will be great the more i listen to it.

off the blueprint:
1. izzo (H.O.V.A.) – oh man. again, sucks that i’m seven years late, but this song is off the wall. a kanye-produced joint sampling a jackson 5 classic? no way this tune could go wrong.
2. girls, girls, girls, – producer just blaze kills this beat. love it.
3. heart of the city (ain’t no love) – december 4th’s only real competition for fav. jay song. another kanye-produced beat, sampling the classic bobby bland. i don’t know what it is about this beat, it’s a pretty straight forward chord progression, but the hook with these chords is just out of this world. i can’t wait to get my hands on an electric guitar and really dig into this tune.

so as far as my Top 100 goes, there have been some pretty drastic changes. lots of these jay-z songs have shown up in the Top 100, heart of the city shot up to #12 in barely more than one week, and then a few other random songs have just shot up unexpectedly. nothing from nothing by billy preston is at #11 after having added it to my itunes library about three weeks ago; that was probably the most surprising change. and around the world / harder, better, faster, stronger is now in the Top 10, which was also an unexpected change. another surprise was the appearance of a few of the new gnarls barkley songs. aside from that, not too much different, just the normal random rank shifting. so here’s my latest Top 10 Most Played:

10. Champion – Kanye West
9. I Wonder – Kanye West
8. Around the World / Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger – Daft Punk
7. I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You) – John Mayer
6. Lesson Learned (Feat. John Mayer) – Alicia Keys
5. Good Life – Kanye West Feat. T-Pain
4. Slow Dancing In A Burning Room – John Mayer
3. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) – Michael Jackson
2. Baby Be Mine – Michael Jackson
1. Flashing Lights – Kanye West

five songs have now reached over 100 play count, and one more just barely there. i have a good feeling that next month this Top 10 list will be a lot different. get ready.

-jon

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i’m feeling pretty basic today. Top 5 Side Ones, Track Ones.

well a month came and went. luckily for me it was the shortest month i could’ve chosen, making this whole play count experiment a bit easier. so last night i plugged my ipod in to make sure my itunes would be as up to date as possible, and then i remade my Top 100 Most Played playlist. and how about this. i was actually disappointed with what i saw. my current Top 10 Most Played:

1. Baby Be Mine – Michael Jackson
2. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) – Michael Jackson
3. Flashing Lights – Kanye West Feat. Dwele
4. Slow Dancing In A Burning Room – John Mayer
5. Good Life – Kanye West Feat. T-Pain
6. Lesson Learned – Alicia Keys Feat. John Mayer
7. I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You) – John Mayer
8. I Wonder – Kanye West
9. Champion – Kanye West
10. Digital Love – Daft Punk

my Top 10 has shuffled a tiny bit, but just barely. and there weren’t even that many new additions to the total Top 100. without a doubt, the reason for this is that once i deleted my most played playlist at the beginning of the month, i was forced to go back to listening to full albums rather than just a bunch of random songs with the highest play counts. needless to say, as disappointed as i was to see no dramatic change in my Top 100, the last month has led to listening to loads of great music.

album #1: i started off with “as i am” by alicia keys. i got this album from a buddy months ago, and really had only listened to the whole album once, and “lesson learned”, her collab with john mayer, like seventy times. so listening to the whole thing afresh was fantastic. to be honest, i didn’t fall in love with every single song, but oh man tracks 4-10 are off the wall good. “i need you” has one of coolest drum beats in a r&b song, and “wreckless love” is basically just alicia killin’ it. man that woman has some pipes. and listening to “lesson learned” within the context of the rest of the album was great too; that song is absolutely phenom. oddly enough though, even though i felt like i listened to the album a billion times, the only song that cracked the Top 100 was wreckless love. oh well. my fav track, “lesson learned.”

album #2: d’angelo’s “brown sugar.” while admittedly not as flawless/classic/unforgettable/impeccable/indelible as “voodoo”, this is a killer first albumfrom the king of neo-soul. i really like this album because i can hear vintage sounds left and right, but still the whole feel is completely mid 90s. it’s weird, normally i would like the opposite of that, an album recently released with traces of modern pop/r&b/whatever but overall sounding more like vintage soul or just vintage music in general. but in this case it’s so great. i don’t want to disparage this album in any way, but it’s so much easier to listen to than “voodoo”. “voodoo” takes months to sink in, no joke. it took like two years to find it’s way into my Top 5 lists. but “brown sugar” is just a lot more accessible, almost… easy. which is to say nothing bad, it’s just different than “voodoo”. but it’s a great one. here’s my fav. track, “lady.”

album #3: this was more a playlist than one album. i threw all three of jack johnson’s albums into my “spain sizzler” playlist and shuffled it for like a week and a half straight. i’d say “brushfire fairytales” got the least playment, “on and on” (even though it is my favorite of the three, thumbs up to adam.) came in second, and “in between dreams” was most played. i think just because when it came out, i was living in the dorms at iowa with the frattiest of frat guys for a roommate, and “banana pancakes” became the ultimate douchebag anthem and i really didn’t have any desire to really dig into the rest of the album. i’m glad i did now though; picking through the dece songs on this album leads to some fantastic tunes. i’ve already posted my new fav. off this album, but the other noteworthy track was “belle.” i listened to this on top of the eiffel tower. holler.

these were the three albums that got the most playment during the last month, but here are the others that got played through at least once.

waltz for debby – bill evans trio: one of best jazz albums ever made. recorded live, this thing is chock full of gorgeous jazz piano trio music. don’t even know what to say about it. makes me want to never quit playing the piano.

heavier things – john mayer: i’m never gonna stop listening to this album. one of the best sophomore releases ever. that would make a great Top 5 list.

thriller – michael jackson: no explanation required.

100 days, 100 nights – sharon jones & the dap-kings: another outstanding album by the most overlooked soul singer around today. sharon jones should’ve been as famous as aretha or tina or diana, but she wasn’t and i’m glad because she probably wouldn’t have found the dap-kings. partly responsible for the absolutely rich sounds of amy winehouse’s killer album “back to black”, the dap-kings know what real soul music is and how far our current generation has gotten from true artistic soul. with that in mind, they’ve gotten together with sharon jones and have released three albums of pure, unadulterated soul. so great. here’s just a taste of their goodness, “tell me.”

subtitulo – josh rouse: another album i need to keep coming back to. i listened to it this month about three times, and it’s only because i’m being distracted by other great music that i’m not deep into this one. josh rouse has got a knack for great acoustic band pop that isn’t easily brushed aside. this album needs more listens from me before i really write about it.

corinne bailey rae – corinne bailey rae: this englishwoman has nailed acoustic soul. she’s either an english alicia keys with a guitar or an english female john legend with a guitar. or a fusion of the two. or something completely different. whatever it is, she’s great.

it won’t be soon before long – maroon 5: only the fast songs. i don’t know what it is, but when these guys write a ballad, it’s just terrible. maybe it’s adam levine’s awful whiney voice. it only really works in the fast songs. but oh man i love those fast songs. great hooks, great guitar parts, just fun fun songs. otherwise no thanks.

homework – daft punk: daft punk is getting their own entire post from me sometime so i’m not gonna write to much here. i’ll just say i’m discovering new things about this one.

electric ladyland – jimi hendrix experience: obviously a classic, just one i’m not well acquainted with. i only went through it once; it is an incredibly dense album (total running time 1:15:21). not one to listen to as i’m hurrying to class. this is one to sit down and digest. this is a record that deserves a dark room, a huge leather chair, and a listen-to on vinyl. i hope it happens one day.

so that’s about it. going back and looking at all the music i listened to, i actually feel a lot better about this whole experiment. i think what i’m gonna do is delete my Top 100 playlist again and come back to it next month. i feel like i’ve connected to all this music so much better like this. i almost want to apologize or something for spending so much time with just a collection of my most played songs in the place of real albums. there is something so untouchable about an album, something so inherently special. i love that i’m listening to a collection of thoughts and opinions and feelings that an artist compiled in an exact and specific way for me. i feel like way too many people take that away from the artist by downloading singles from itunes or just having a crappy incomplete selection of tunes from artists. i enjoy finding my own specific favorite tracks within an album, but it’s the best when i’ve found them within the context of the whole album. i don’t feel like i’m taking away from the artist or the album in any way. albums require time and energy and work, and that’s why i love them so much. so from here on out, i will spend far less time listening to mixes of my favorite songs and focus more on albums. my library is rife with albums i haven’t digested yet. i’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. i wonder if doctors can listen to music while they’re working.

-jon

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