I thought I’d listen to the shuffle on iTunes while I cleaned since I’m at home today for the holiday and I don’t want to get too behind on the shuffle challenge. Somewhere between syncing my iPod (although I’ve done that already without incident and the need to sync my calendar was one of the reasons I decided to create a playlist rather than rely on the shuffle setting on the iPod) and trying to play the playlist on iTunes from the point where I’d left off on my iPod, somehow the original shuffle order was lost. The song I started playing (which should’ve been #178) was now song #1. After 25 minutes of trying to identify and delete all the songs I’d already heard so I could continue relatively unscathed, I realized it was futile. I could only remember about 80 of the 177 songs I’d already completed. So I decided to start over (sob). I created a copy of the playlist this time and I will try to make a picture copy of it to store somewhere outside of iTunes, which clearly cannot be trusted not to fuck up a playlist order and is Satan’s spawn for doing this to me. Luckily I wasn’t that far in. I give myself special dispensation to skip any song that I don’t feel like listening to that I’m SURE I already heard during attempt number 1 (which is actually attempt number 2, but who’s counting). If something like this happens again, I’m so totally done with this fucking experiment.
I’m challenging myself to get through a whole shuffle of my music collection on my iPod without skipping. Then I write about what I heard each week.
I completed the first full week of the shuffle challenge on Friday. The title of this post refers to a magically deliciously bad song by Merlin from Sire Records’ Just Say Yes collection that popped up in the shuffle on Friday. The experiment is going well so far. I’m feeling really calm on my commute. Knowing that I can’t skip songs, I just relax and listen without feeling antsy about looking for something better. I started listening to my iPod on evening dog walks too, which has helped make the walks more entertaining and should help me complete the shuffle faster. Dave’s been listening to music while walking Chuck for years, I’m not sure why it took me so long to follow suit.
Here is the weekly summary:
Songs listened to this week: 157
Completed: almost 7%
Number of double shots: 7
The Police * 3 (all live, I’ve downloaded too many bootlegs!), the Beatles, Elvis, Sting, and Bad Company (ugh)
Number of triple shots: 3
Genesis, the Police (all live, see what I mean about the bootlegs?), and Mr. Mister (yeah, I know). Rocking out to ‘Kyrie,’ I realized that I have this song on my iPod through a compilation, for some reason I never ripped their second CD. So through the joy of randomization I had a triple shot from a band with very few total songs on my iPod. The other two songs were from their first album, which I only had on tape until very recently. I’d been looking for it on CD for years and finally found it. Mr. Mister’s first album is one of my guiltiest pleasures.
Number of new to me songs: 2
Mew ‘Vaccine’ (pretty good), Best Coast ‘When the Sun Don’t Shine’ (very cute)
Number of songs that I’m so totally deleting: 2
Bad Company ‘Electric Land’ (not the world’s most awful song, can’t even articulate specifically what I don’t like about it…I just never need to hear it again), King Missile ‘Part Two’ (would I want to delete this less if I heard it immediately after Part One…is there a Part One???)
Best example of why I can’t play an unedited iPod shuffle at a party: Lords of Acid ‘The Wet Dream’
Song I’ll be saddest not to hear again until this is over: The Police ‘Reggatta de Blanc’
Best example of why shuffle sometimes sucks: The Beatles ‘Mean Mr. Mustard’
Hearing something from that part of Abbey Road without the other songs is disconcerting. I so wanted to hear ‘Polythene Pam’ next, but no dice).
Song that is entirely too long: Public Image Ltd. ‘Rise’
Did you know that sucker is over six minutes long? I always think I like this one when it comes up, but then I can never make it through (except during the challenge, of course!).
Most situationally-inappropriate song: The Samples ‘Summertime’
The wind chill was something like 18 degrees during my walk home from the metro on the coldest and windiest night this week, which was when this song came on. Irritating.
Most embarrassing confession about a song: The Beatles ‘Twist and Shout’
When I saw Ferris Buellers’s Day Off, I thought it was possible that Matthew Broderick was singing this in the movie. Yes, I am a moron. But to this day, when I hear this song, it still sounds plausible that Matthew Broderick would sound like this if singing it. Why am I admitting this?
Song that made me dance around during the dog walk: Simon and Garfunkel ‘Save the Life of My Child’
Oddly, this is a happy song for me. Probably due to fond memories of listening to this (and horrible attempts at singing) with a friend in college.
Really crappy song by an otherwise fine artist that is so crappy I feel I could’ve written it myself in the shower: Splashdown ‘So Ha’
Band with song titles I totally don’t know: Stereolab
Except for ‘Emperor Tomato Ketchup,’ which is unforgettable really, I can’t identify any Stereolab songs by name, not even my favorite. The Stereolab song I heard this week was apparently called ‘The Noise of Carpet,’ yes, of course.
Weirdest coincidence: For some reason during Mr. Mister’s ‘Code of Love,’ I started thinking that the theme of this song was kind of similar to Dave’s guitar teacher’s song ‘Made a Devil.’ Then I started wondering if he’d be pissed if I told him that. Then the next song was one of his (not ‘Made a Devil,’ but still creepy–get out of my mind).
Most random memory: The Police ‘Secret Journey’
I went to Catholic school preschool through grade 12. We got an assignment once in theology class to select a spiritually enriching song and write an essay about listening to it. I remember being so excited that I had such a great example and that I didn’t even have to think about which song I’d pick–obviously, I’d write about ‘Secret Journey.’ Then I noticed the fine print in the assignment handout that said “For example, ‘Secret Journey’ by the Police.” Fuck! The bastards stole my idea. I suppose I should’ve just used it anyway, but it seemed no one would ever believe it had been my idea first.
I’m challenging myself to get through a whole shuffle of my music collection on my iPod without skipping. Then I write about what I heard each week.
Friday was day one of the playlist pledge. Well, Thursday was actually the first attempt, but I aborted it when I realized how easy it would be to fuck up the shuffle with an errant finger touch (pretty likely actually since I’ll probably need to go back through the songs to remember what I’ve heard to write my weekly summaries). So Thursday night, I created a playlist of all my songs, shuffled it, and synced it to my iPod. I don’t like the way I can see what’s coming next (I try to avoid looking at the playlist), but this is the only way I can think of to ensure the integrity of the shuffle (already on day one, I accidentally hit the shuffle icon and had to go back to the playlist to resume the correct order). Here are the songs from day one. Don’t worry, I don’t plan on listing every song after today, I just wanted to document the very special songs called into duty on the first day.
Simon & Garfunkel-He Was My Brother
Lords of Acid-Pussy (Round)
Genesis-I Can’t Dance [12″ Version]
The Police-Message In A Bottle (Live-7/15/2007-Cleveland)
Genesis-Mad Man Moon
Sting-History Will Teach Us Nothing
Sting-Saint Augustine In Hell
Shaggy-It Wasn’t Me
The Police-De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (Live-5/27/2007-Vancouver Fan Club Show)
Animal Logic-If I Could Do It Over Again
Ween-I’ll Be Your Jonny on the Spot
Kevin Gilbert-Song for a Dead Friend
Living Colour-Leave It Alone
The Judybats-My Dead Friend
The Innocence Mission-Our Harry
Genesis-Get ‘Em Out by Friday
Bel Canto was a very promising opening. For the most part, day one wasn’t bad. I probably would’ve skipped at least half these songs on a normal day, but only the 12″ version of I Can’t Dance made me groan. Well, and the two live Police songs made me realize that I have way too many Police bootlegs on my iPod. I downloaded all three of the reunion tour shows I saw live and having to go through all of those during this shuffle will be a little painful, especially the more “Stingified” songs, like the totally anemic version of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” they performed on that tour. Oh well, something to look forward to…
Well, I hope the gastroenteritis that greeted me at New Year’s isn’t a sign of how this year is going to go. I love how I got violently ill so shortly after posting my bragging about how I wasn’t even remotely sick during 2010. Ironic, don’t ya think? So it’s been a slow start to the year and I’m just starting to dig out of the sickness hole (which for me was sleeping a lot, then when I couldn’t sleep anymore but didn’t have the energy to get out of bed, listening to the last bit of the History of Howard Stern Act 4, then most recently plowing through more than half of the ‘In Treatment’ Season 1 DVDs I got for Christmas). Now I’m trying to get back to my regularly scheduled life…
Getting an iPod has totally changed the way I listen to music. I never listen to albums anymore. I listen to shuffles–of all songs, of songs within artist, and at Christmas, songs within that genre. I have shockingly little patience for most songs. Sometimes I try to make myself listen to a minute of a song before skipping it and my trigger finger shakes like a junkie’s. Don’t get me wrong, even pre-iPod I would enjoy a good mix tape or the random function on my multi-disc CD changer, but for the most part I listened to albums in their entirety before the iPod and only rarely skipped or fast forwarded. I can’t say whether the ease of shuffling on an iPod caused this change or if the iPod simply allowed an existing preference to flourish, but I’m not sure it’s healthy. I feel ADD about listening to music now. I got the new Mew CD (well it was new at the time) for Christmas in 2009, promptly ripped it into iTunes, synced it to my iPod, and…still haven’t listened to it yet. When one of these songs pops up, I skip it because I don’t recognize it. This is nuts.
So I pledged to listen, without ANY skipping, to one complete shuffle of everything on my iPod after the holidays. With a couple of exceptions, this means that whenever I feel like listening to my iPod, I’ll be listening to the shuffle I start on day one of this experiment and I cannot skip a song, no matter what. I already removed my Christmas music from my iPod library, so that shouldn’t be an issue. I think I caught all my work voice mails that sometimes get stored in iTunes when I check them from home, but if I didn’t, I reserve the right to skip them. The big exception is running. I don’t use an iPod when I run outside, but when I run at the gym, I will give myself special dispensation to listen to whatever I want. I’ll use my other iPod at the gym so I don’t mess up the shuffle pledge. I need motivating music to stay on the treadmill for more than five minutes. Other than that, if I’m listening to my iPod, I’ll be listening to this once-through shuffle.
This is going to take a while. Generally, I listen to my iPod during my commute and occasionally in the car or in the kitchen. Completing this entails listening to 2,688 songs in their entirety. iTunes says my music library is “7.8 days.” So given my current iPod listening habits, I estimate this will take over 4 months. At the end of each week, I’ll report on my progress and any interesting notes (most embarrassing song, most awkward transition, song I didn’t realize I had, song I will delete as soon as this experiment is over, etc…). I have a feeling that this activity will make it much easier to cull songs from my music library. I’m also hoping to find some hidden treasures in my own collection.
Keeping up with a blog is not so easy once you’ve been sucked into the Christmas preparation vortex. I am just about done with my shopping. I also finally got the two family photo calendars done this past week and have made three of my planned five kinds of cookies. Luckily, Friday was my last day of work until January 5th. Words are inadequate to describe the joy of that.
Now for some long overdue content. A friend has been posting his top ten Christmas songs on Facebook the past few days and I am now going to blatantly steal that idea. Music might be my favorite part of Christmas (well, maybe after the time off, or maybe the cookies, or maybe the presents, OK it’s not my favorite thing, whatever). It helps keep me festive while prying pecan tassies out of uncooperative mini muffin tins, etc… While I enjoy the Christmas songs played on the radio, the selections can get a little monotonous. The radio station that I listened to in college used to slip Christmas songs in among the regular rotation during the holidays, which was very cool. I’ve been building up a Christmas music collection for years. My Christmas super shuffle has almost 300 songs now and I like to seek out new (at least new to me) songs every year. It was difficult to pick twelve favorites, and in fact I’m cheating and including two extras.
Honorable mention goes to these two songs that I found this year. It’s too early to tell if they’ll stand the test of time and become favorites, but this year, I’m loving them pretty hard.
“Holly Jolly Hollywood” by the Wedding Present featuring Simone White. If you know anything about David Gedge and his music of angst, this song might seem, uh, counter-intuitive? But I think it’s charming…and a fucking ear worm. “I know we’ll always be in love.”
“Deck the Halls” by Pomplamoose. Over Thanksgiving, Dave was all: “You know those music people you listen to on You Tube…they’re on TV.” And I was all: “What the hell are you talking about?” Then I saw the Hyundai commercial myself and was all: “Wow, that is awesome.” I love the “Christmas in Space” part of this song. You can download this and several other Christmas songs just for donating a book to a school.
Now for the official Logy Express list of favorite Christmas songs:
12. “Gloucestershire Wassail.” This one and number 11 are both songs I sang at the Boar’s Head dinner in University Choir (the singing group formerly known as Glee Club) back in college. I couldn’t find a version of it on You Tube that spoke to me of my Glee Club days, so here’s Blur’s version, which I was so excited to find today I could have spit.
11. “The Boar’s Head Carol.” It took awhile to find, but this version is pretty close to the way we sang this.
10. “Gaudete” by Mediaeval Baebes. Dave’s years of Latin are finally useful.
9. “Skating on the River” by Lily Frost. Damn if I can find this on You Tube or anywhere else, so here is the Amazon MP3 preview link. This cute little gem of a song is part of the “Christmas Songs” CD that I bought for the Bare Naked Ladies/Sarah McLachlan version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” but grew to love for this song, the song at number 10, and several other really good songs. There’s even a 20-minute long comedy routine which I listen to at least once in its entirety each year. This doofy Canadian guy gets 20 kids drunk at a neighbor’s Christmas party. Hilarity ensues.
8. “Gabriel’s Message” by Sting. Maybe everyone convinces themselves that the music of their youth was awesome, and that the youth today have crap taste in music, but that’s pretty much what I think. The Christmas music being forced into my ears by contemporary “artists” these days is so boring and also quite possibly auto-tuned (talking to you, Miley).
7. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by Ray Conniff and the Ray Conniff Singers. There are so many versions of this song and I enjoy most of them. But this version adds “gaily” to the mix. How can you not love that? Ten lords a-leaping gaily! Nine ladies dancing gaily! Eight maids a-milking gaily…what???
6. “Sleigh Ride” by the Carpenters. Yeah, I’m going there. So what? Logs on the fire fill me with desire, I can’t help it. It was hard to pick just one from their two-CD Christmas collection. I used to make fun of my mother mercilessly for listening to it, but damn if it isn’t some good catchy Christmas-y shit. It just edges out the Johnny Mathis version for me, but not by much. I love how this song validates my irrational love of pumpkin pie.
5. “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney. This song was a significant part of my Christmas enjoyment as a child. I was six when it came out and I didn’t know this dude was a Beatle. All I knew was that this song sounded like Christmas.
4. “Dominick the Donkey” by Lou Monte. Somehow I got through more than 30 years of life without knowing this song existed, which is a travesty. I think I heard this for the first time on the “Sounds of the Seasons” cable TV music station. Then the Sirius Christmas channel started playing it too. Given how many great Christmas songs exist, there’s just no excuse for the number of times Sirius’ Holly is playing remakes of Wham’s “Last Christmas,” not when they could be playing more Dominick the Donkey.
3. “Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano. You know, forget it. This one might just be the only Christmas song you ever need. This thing rocks and I never get sick of it.
2. “Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season” by Andy Williams. I’m sure I heard this song 8 million times in my life, but for some reason, I have no memory of hearing it before the National Tree Lighting Ceremony a friend took me to sometime in the late 90s. I remember Jose Feliciano performed, which rocked. But then this Broadway theater company (possibly included Lilith from Frasier, I can’t really remember) sang some stupid, grammatically odd song about Santa coming down the chimney down (yeah, you already said down). Then I heard the Andy Williams version, and it clicked for me. It’s hard not to be happy with Christmas-ness when this song is on. I used to enjoy making this song filthy and making my Mom cringe, but I’ve matured a little in the past couple of years and can now sing along with “whoop-de-do and dickory dock, don’t forget to hang up your sock” without wanting to change the words.
1. “Carol of the Bells (A Demonic Christmas)” by DJ Demonixx. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a version of “Carol of the Bells” I didn’t like. The natural frenetic quality of this song seems so appropriate for a holiday that most people go bananas over. Until I’ve heard this song, the Christmas season has not begun. I’ve already mentioned the story of the first time I heard this version here.