Things I Learned From My iPod Shuffle Challenge

In the two weeks since I finished my iPod shuffle challenge, during which I listened to a complete shuffle of all the songs on my iPod without skipping any, I’ve been restless about music. New shuffles bore me, my music seems stale. It feels like I’ve “just” heard all of it. So I’ve been listening to albums in their entirety, mostly because it feels different and because I can. I found that Abbey Road is almost exactly the length of one way of my commute. Listening to that album was one of the first things I felt like doing. Hearing side two Abbey Road songs during the shuffle felt wrong, as I explained in week 1.

So what did I learn from the iPod shuffle challenge?

* I have more patience than I thought. I did it. I listened to 2,724 songs without skipping a single second of any song.

* Since I have now given every song a chance to wow me, it’s completely OK to delete songs I don’t like very much. I erred on the side of inclusion when I originally ripped my CDs, but I don’t have to store my entire CD collection on my iPod. Good lord, no.

* The key lesson is my desperate need for some new music. Both new to me, since I feel like I’ve totally lived my current collection of songs at the moment, as well as new as in not old. Most of the songs I highlighted during the challenge were  released prior to the current decade. I’ve had trouble finding new bands I like for a long time now.

Suggestions are most welcome. Please, for the love of all that is holy, share any great new artists you love. I need a music freshening.

I was excited to get an invitation to try the free version of Spotify. It’s pretty cool, basically in exchange for putting up with the occasional ad, I can listen to almost any song I want whenever I want, without paying for it.  

But there’s a catch…your own imagination. I don’t know about you, but being able to search for anything I might want to hear but don’t already own makes my mind go totally blank. I keep using Spotify to listen to the same two songs, because they are the only ones that come to mind. The first is Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” which is one of the very few new songs I’ve been exposed to and liked since starting the shuffle challenge. It’s fun to sing.

Then there’s Katie Costello’s “Stranger,” which I heard on “Switched at Birth,” and was pleased to find on Spotify. It’s one of those songs that you like, even though listening to it evokes feelings of melancholy that make you want to jump off a cliff. Wait, just me? Since I think about the issues I believe she’s covering in this song a lot anyway (how well can we ever really know another person?), I find it compelling. Go ahead and listen. It’s sort of a cathartic sad. Really.

* The last thing I learned during the shuffle challenge is that my iPod is missing stuff. Some songs I love never made it onto my iPod and I need to fix that. These songs include:

Steppenwolf “Born to Be Wild” This song, as well as “Magic Carpet Ride,” were part of the soundtrack to my post graduation trip to Niagara Falls with friends. I was not particularly wild, but I had the opportunity to be wild, so there you go.

Ace “How Long” There’s definitely a cheesy 70s lite rock vibe to this, but I love it anyway. I already expressed my love of Paul Carrack’s voice when Squeeze’s “Tempted” came up in the shuffle. I would listen to him sing the phone book (and I sort of feel like I have…Mike + the Mechanics).

Marshall Crenshaw “Someday, Someway” I don’t suppose anyone has ever before compared this to Buddy Holly? I love that I found a video of his performance on Letterman, so that’s what I embedded.

Elvis Costello “Veronica” For the longest time, this was the only Elvis Costello song I liked. More of his songs have since grown on me, but this one is still my favorite, especially now that I’ve known a Veronica (Dave’s Mom).

When I went to see Paul Simon in concert a couple of months ago, I was shocked to realize that although I have Simon & Garfunkel’s whole catalog, I didn’t have any of Paul Simon’s solo music. Not even my favorite song. Not sure how that happened. So I listened to “The Obvious Child” on You Tube 500 times before and after that show.

The Cranberries “Dreams” Maybe everyone can point to a song that perfectly explains what it feels like to fall in love, but my song is a particularly good one, no? This song was released the month I met Dave. Our favorite radio station played it incessantly while the lyrics were happening to me. Somehow this CD never made it onto my iPod.

Mazzy Star “Fade Into You” This song has been on my “to buy/download” list for 17 years. Oops. Need to get on that.

Wedding Present “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” I don’t think the Watusi album was very well received. It’s even out of print, even though earlier albums are not. I think it must have been a rare happy period for David Gedge, and perhaps that turned off his hard-core fans, who like him full of angst. But I thought the songs were goofy and charming. There is just something extra compelling about a bitter guy in love.

Of course, all of these songs are at least 17 years old.

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10 Responses to “Things I Learned From My iPod Shuffle Challenge”

  1. room34
    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    Here are a few current artists I really like: Phoenix, The Bird and the Bee, Spoon, Fitz and the Tantrums, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and Adele. There’s some good stuff out there these days, but it’s not always easy to find. I rely mostly on 89.3 The Current, a public radio station here in Minneapolis. It’s also streaming online, if you want to check it out.

    • logyexpress
      Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

      Thanks for the suggestions! I was messing around with Pandora today and think I heard a Phoenix song and liked it. I downloaded The Bird and the Bee’s version of “Carol of the Bells” a couple of Christmases ago, but haven’t heard anything else of theirs. My husband finds Pandora useful, but he’s spent years training it. I used it today and it drove me a little nuts. I’m not sure I have the patience to train it. Tempted to start from scratch and put in a bunch of song titles (like all the songs I highlighted during the iPod shuffle challenge) and see if that works better than entering artists like I have been doing.

      I’ll have to check out that radio station. When I moved to DC, I used to listen to my favorite station in Rochester, NY online at work all the time, but I haven’t tried that in a long time. I should check that out again too.

  2. Katie
    Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    Wow! That’s quite the undertaking, but it sounds like you did great! I’ve been feeling the same about my music tastes recently. I’m just…bored…with everything we have it seems. New stuff I do really love is: Mumford and Sons and pretty much anything by Adele. but like you, most of my music is older. There’s just not that much that grabs my attention out there anymore. Oh, Damien Rice is really good, too. Good luck in finding some good, new music. If you find anything great, remember to share! :)

    • logyexpress
      Sunday, August 7, 2011 at 11:13 am #

      I love music so much, but I’ve found that in recent years even if I find something I like I tire of it faster than the music I found when I was younger. Thanks for the suggestions. I also think I’m going to try Pandora.

  3. scalesoflibra
    Friday, August 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    Hello! I found your blog through Freshly Pressed and was looking around at the other posts.

    I think you came up with a really good idea; sometimes I look at my iTunes Library and think, “I probably haven’t played half of it in years, how wasteful!” I think I want to try this challenge, too!

    As for suggestions of newer music, when I saw Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” and the Cranberries’ “Dreams” I thought you might like the group The Birthday Massacre. They’ve got a kinda rock-trip-hop sound. Pandora actually suggested them to me. Oh, and I do think Pandora works better if you put in songs rather than artists, so I suggest “Looking Glass” by said band. If you ever listen to music in other languages, I suggest GACKT, a Japanese rock musician. I think his song “freesia~op.1~ is probably the most beautiful sounding if you can’t understand what he’s saying.

    Good luck with the music hunt, and nice blog!

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

      Thanks so much, I’m grateful for the suggestions! I started trying to “train” Pandora the week after I finished the shuffle challenge, but it wasn’t working too well. Maybe I’ll put in the songs I highlighted during the challenge instead and see what Pandora throws at me. I’ll definitely check out your suggestions! If you end up doing the challenge, let me know how it goes!

      • scalesoflibra
        Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 10:28 am #

        I hope you were able to make Pandora fit your needs. It can be great when properly trained.

        I did end up doing the challenge, and it’s going pretty well so far! It’s a great way to remember what I’ve got in my iTML. I’m chronicling the journey on my non-Japan blog ( 371 down, 2562 tracks to go!

        • logyexpress
          Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

          Ooh cool! I’m looking forward to seeing your write-ups. I made a list of all the songs I highlighted (as good!) during my challenge and I plan to enter those songs into Pandora to try to train it more effectively. I haven’t had a chance to do that yet. I might use the Pandora training as my next music writing project here on the blog.


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