Saturday, July 29, 2006

fernando can hear the drums whenever he'd like on his ipod

I’m contemplating buying an mp3 player. The thing that has pushed me over the edge toward purchasing one is the stacks and stacks of cds lying around the house. We’re talking a mound of broken jewel cases and case-less cds cluttering up precious kitchen counter real estate. We have a six foot bookcase in the living room filled with cds in no particular order so it takes a half an hour to find what I’m looking for--or to discover that it’s not on the shelf but in the kitchen stack.

I love the idea of all that plastic being converted into invisible digital code and fitting in the palm of my hand. Ahhhh…that would be revolutionary. Theoretically, I could pack up those discs and have a clutter-free house!

But, you all probably have ipods already, so why am I carrying on?

Because I think there are drawbacks to owning an mp3 player.

Last summer we packed up and went to meet my family for a week in Breckinridge, CO. Our minivan doesn’t even have a cd player so we do the old discman plugged into the lighter with a cassette tape adapter. It’s so jimmy-rigged. We’d do just as well listening to each other sing through a tin can on a string, but that’s not my point here.

My point here is that for the trip I made a mix cd to listen to. My kids love “Holla Back Girl” and “Rich Girl” by Gwen Stefani. We’d been listening to a Stephen Foster Tribute Album and there’s a song called “The Shanghai” that we all like. Paul and I had just discovered Dave Carter and Tracy Grammar so there are a few tunes by them and various other new songs/artists we’d been listening to in the weeks leading up to the trip.

We listened to that cd a LOT on that trip--to, from and during. Now when I hear Hollaback Girl, I think of driving through the mountains. When I hear “Shanghai” I picture Phoebe, Mo & Ollie in the back of the van launching into the chorus in unison, “oh----the Shanghai! Don’t be money on the Shanghai!!”

If I’d had access to every song in my musical catalog with me in the van, what would I have listened to? It seems like if I’d had an ipod shuffle going I’d hear 1000 songs once over the week and they’d totally loose all context and meaning--cease to be a musical scrapbook of the vacation. If you asked what we listening to on the trip I’d probably say, “the ipod.”

It’ll be convenient to not have to choose which ONE cd to bring with me on a walk. But it is a very fun challenge to pick a cd that is full of songs good for walking -- not with a bunch of slow clunkers in the middle--but all good up songs. My choice: De La Soul “Three Feet High and Rising”, The Beastie Boys, “Paul’s Boutique” and The Dance Hall Crashers “Greatest Hits 1989-1992.” It took a lot of thought and trial and error to come up with that list. Abba Gold seems like a natural choice, but you gotta remember, they’ve got Fernando, Chicitita and One of Us is Crying on there--that’ll throw a wrench in your pace.

It’s like my Blueberry Morning Coffee from Green Mountain Coffee. It used to be their summer specialty bean. We’d wait for June when we could order it. That was the taste of summer--a cup of blueberry coffee with half-n-half and sugar out on the front porch. Well, now it’s NOT their summer specialty (raspberry is, also very good, but it’s no Blueberry Morning). Blueberry Morning is available year round. I don’t want it year round! I’m not buying it year round! I only want it in June, July and August. It marks the seasons for me.

What’s next? Gin and tonics on Christmas Eve? That Chipmunks Hula hoop song in April? Any song I want to listen to anytime I want it?

I’m really not a technophobe, although I realize this is my second post slamming modern technology. I just think it’s important to take a look at what we loose as well as what we gain.


Anonymous said...

Hey Em, I want to address your ipod concerns. I, like you, also find myself pondering the things we lose when we jump on the techno bandwagon, ie digital camera vs real film and email vs hand written letters. But, I think your ipod concerns are perhaps less of an issue. I have recently been "given" an ipod (I say "given" because it is just as much for him as for me) by my techno crazed husband. I was sceptacle as first, but have now seen the light. First, I believe you can create your own smaller playlists from your whole collection and have that be what you play on your trips or whatever. Secondly, I have found that even without this playlist feature, I end up playing the same selections over and over on a given trip because that is what fits my mood, therefor, still creating that special sense of nostalgia when listening to them in the future. Just ask Tim, I played Nickle Creek and Dixie Chicks so much on our last trip to camp that he nearly jumped from the van. Hummm, maybe ipods are dangerous after, Holly

emdunbar said...

Interesting. Is it really wierd to be worrying about creating nostalgia to be enjoyed in the future? Is that prepackaging of memories totally inorganic regardless of whether it's coming out of an ipod or a 45? I'm not saying YOU are weird, Holly (I'm also not saying you are NOT weird--it's just beside the point), because you were paraphrasing my own thoughts, really. But that just struck me.

I guess when I make a mix to take on a trip I'm not putting it together saying "this is going to set the tone for our vacation! this is what we are going to remember!" I just make it to have something to listen to and if it sticks, it sticks and if it sucks we listen to something else. That also would happen if it is an ipod or an 8-track. Very interesting!

I now feel like none of that made any sense. I hope it did.

AND, how fun that you are reading my blog! Good to hear from you. Hello to the whole fam. And if you are listening to Nickel Creek and Dixie Chicks next time around, I'll come ride with you.