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Friday May 20, 2005 // By Sandy

The soundtrack of my life

From the first day we saw our home, I’ve had a fairly specific idea for how I’d like to set up a house-wide stereo system. What I haven’t had, yet, is the initiative or finances to do it. In the meanwhile, we’re settling for stopgap solutions. For instance, I’ve got a copy of my entire MP3 collection pouring over my wireless network and through my TiVo, which is nice, though limiting in that it’s only controllable from the fairly shoddy TiVo interface. Also, the music can only play where there’s an video output for the TiVo, i.e. the living room and the bedroom.

This becomes an issue when we cook, an pleasant activity that becomes more pleasant with background music. Fortunately, I’ve been on a bizarre music-listening mission for the last year that serves as a nice solution to the kitchen problem. It goes like this: my entire music collection is stored on my work laptop (the stuff playing through TiVo is a copy of this collection). Starting on April 26, 2004, whenever I played music off the laptop, I only listened to music I hadn’t heard before. Partly because I had a theory about the randomness of iTunes that I wanted to beat, and partly because I enjoy being obsessive about trivial matters like this. I listened to lots of music at work, but whenever I had the chance, I’d also plug the laptop into the kitchen stereo and knock off an hour or so’s worth of songs that way. It was a good way to burn through those blues and jazz albums, which are often way too mellow for my jittery at-work brain to handle.

One year and one week after I started, I finished. I set it up so the last songs—a bizarre mix of Billy Joel, Mandy Patinkin, RJD2, John Mellencamp and Velvet Underground—would play during dinner prep. The last song, Billy Joel’s “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” as cornball as it is, has special meaning for us, and when it came on my geek excitement spilled over to Sarah and caused us to erupt into a spontaneous bit of kitchen dancing. It was terribly sweet.

I bring it all up because it coincides nicely with the musical baton Luke passed to me a few days ago. I usually find memes like these harmless, if a little trite. But this one I like, since it’s giving me lots of tips on music I’ve never heard of, and I’m always on the lookout.

Total volume of music on my computer:
10,546 songs. 44.9 GB. 28 days, 4 hours and some change.

The last CD I bought:
Clylde Federal’s Piecework. Really good stuff.

Song playing right now:
“I Know What I Know,” by Paul Simon

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me:
There are songs that I like, songs that I really like, and songs that invade my soul and set up camp for permanent residency. Here are five ten of the latter:

  • “Baba O’Riley”, The Who
  • “Birdhouse In Your Soul,” They Might Be Giants
  • “Fake Palindromes”, by Andrew Bird
  • “I Walk the Earth,” King Biscuit Time
  • “Lazy Line Painter Jane,” Belle & Sebastian
  • “Rebellion (Lies),” Arcade Fire
  • “Sinnerman,” Nina Simone
  • “Sunken Waltz,” by Calexico
  • “Trampoline,” by Joe Henry
  • “Unison,” by Bjork

Five people to whom I’m passing the baton:

  1. Dave
  2. Sarah H
  3. Andrew
  4. Sam
  5. Eric Zorn

Of course, I expect Sarah to do it as well.

Posted by sarah // May 25, 13:36
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