Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Musical flashbacks: aren’t they great?

Since I self-satisfyingly maxed out my old iPod and was forced to replace it with a bigger model, I’ve gone through the obsessive-like mission to relisten to every song I own. And I’m loving every second of it. You see, Apple won’t let you transfer your music from one device to the other all that easily (a relic of the days when the paradigm for developing digital music was seen through the misguided prism of controlling the very consumer’s behaviour through digital rights management... not so #winning a plan, eh?), so I was forced to see solutions outside of their sanctimonious little Genius-bar bubble. The other tech slaughter-house Google threw up a number of options to download to fit my desired purpose: moving my library as it was in my old “Ben+Satomi iPod” (so named as it was purchased under the misapprehension that we newly-married couple would graciously and ever-so-sweetly divide the musical device’s custody between us... which lasted until Christmas when I forked out to buy the Tiger her very own green nano so she’d leave mine the hell alone) onto the shiny new precious “Big One” in one piece and without naming hassles or having to download entire libraries manually to switch them across.

I settled on the lowest range program (translation: tight-arse free) which promised to do the bare bones, without the bells and whistles. And it did just that - within an hour or so, all my tunes were copied across the Big One and I was no longer looking at a maxed out capacity bar. Which was fine, except the Crazy Clark’s No Frills Homebrand Black n Gold Savings brand program did away with pesky little things like playlists and, crucially playcounts. Hmm.

The latter of those two ancillary extras did my fucking head in initially. Like any self-respecting music-nerd who grew up secretly listening to Barry Bissell’s Top 40 on the wireless on a Thursday night, or got up extra early on both a Saturday and Sunday morning to watch the Rage Top 50 countdown (thinking, in my innocent youth, that cassingle sales on the Saturday would be reflected in the next day’s charts. Yeah, I was a very curious kid, not too bright though), you’d know that I was a little obsessive with this playcount malarky. Heck, even to this day my website homepage is set to my last.fm profile and I’m seriously very excited about bearing down on the hundred thousand listen mark in the next couple of months.

The lack of playcount data was weighing heavily until I devised a new Smart Playlist called Unplayed. Genius! (No, not in that kind of Trademarked marketing mumbo-jumbo that all those skivvy-types seem to use). It was simple - I’d make it a daily ritual to trawl through 50 songs from my back-catalogue of music and see what pops up. It’s a religious ADD-type activity now, usually accompanying my breakfast and then every music-listening opportunity throughout the day until I reach the 50 mark. I’m quite disciplined about it and make sure no other songs or albums or podcasts get turned on until that 50 is reached... I’ve even been known to stay up just that little bit later to cram them all in. Usually it’s background music and my ears will prick up once in a while to nod sagely as some musical memory worms its way into my brain, or wistfully stare into the middle distance with a vague half-smile and a knowing eye-brow raise. Or just throw a random devil horn around the empty house. I’m that kinda guy.

Tonight, however, was a little different. Whilst bashing last night’s dinner dishes into some sort of wife-pleasing state, a couple of songs from Ryan Adams’ Demolition album banged out right next to each other. And I got an instant reminiscing hard-on for the moment when this album found its way into my world. It’s nothing special, there was no cataclysmic moment - it was just an aimless, relatively poor Saturday morning in Brisbane-town when a cool $20 note was burning a hole in my tatty shorts pocket, and the upstairs of the old Rockinghorse Records was faintly beckoning me from the Love Den’s enveloping beanbag. There was nothing on the New Release shelves really calling my name, and I was in a mood to punt. The unspooled tape on the cover grabbed me, and I was familiar enough with the prolific songwriter’s name to grab it from the could-a been’s shelf in a “fuck it, what the hell” moment. Got it home, sparked and up tuned into the truly alt-country vibe which seemed to mix well with the aimlessness of my life at the time. It swiftly becoming an oft-reached for tome and it was perfect as a Saturday night accompaniment - enough bubbling enthusiasm to get you fired up early, mixed with enough maudlin reflection to bring you down after yet another fruitless excursion into the mass of the Valley.

Sure, call me a big ole’ softie, but while there are some testicle grab-worthy moments of crunchy rawk within this effort, it’s the soft touches which still grab me, take this:

Or, from a Youtube-less tune, the lyrics: “Cry on demand / How’d you learn to? Cry on demand / Teach me if you want to, you know you don’t have to / I’ll just close my eyes / And think of you” Naaawwww...


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