Thursday, October 26, 2006

Review of the Day

Or, "Again with the iPod!" Here is a quick look at Steven Levy's The Perfect Thing: How The iPod Shuffles Commerce, Cultures, And Coolness. My favourite quote from reviewer Alan Jacobs:

This tendency — mon iPod, c'est moi — is irrational, perhaps, but irresistible: having just noted the last ten songs played randomly by my own iPod, I am deeply disappointed to see one of U2's most famous songs there, and even a little annoyed that the Beck song it pulled up is one of his more accessible. I would feel much cooler if it had pulled out something by the Dirty Three, or Charlie Patton, or Yo La Tengo. But as things stand I feel ordinary. This little electronic gadget, like a pocket-sized Freudian analyst, has somehow revealed — worse, allowed me to reveal — my inauthenticity, as though its famously fingerprint-attracting polished metal back had lifted itself before my appalled face and cried, Behold!

Well, when you start talking french to your iPod (just don't call it "ee-POD"), you can be sure your reflection will come back looking a little grubby. Still, curiosity got the better of me. I might be telling tales out of school by revealing this list of ten randomly shuffled songs from my wife's iPod, but bear in mind I'm the guy who put them there:

Steely Dan, "Black Friday"
Sting, "The Lazarus Heart"
Carolyn Arends, "Travelers"
Lisa Stansfield, "Soul Deep"
Steely Dan, "Everyone's Gone To The Movies"
Los Lobos, "Kiko & The Lavender Moon"
Shelby Lynne, "Why Can't You Be"
Bonnie Raitt, "Nobody's Girl"
Talking Heads, "Cross-eyed & Painless"
Erasure, "Breath of Life"
Emmylou Harris, "O Little Town of Bethlehem"
Bruce Cockburn, "Call It Democracy"
Eurythmics, "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves"
Lisa Stansfield, "Tenderly"
Steve Bell, "The Lord's Prayer"

Hey, that's not 10 -- whoops! That "shuffle" feature is more entrancing than the paper's daily horoscope. Apparently Levy is convinced the iPod is wired to give Steely Dan top billing, which the casual reader might think is borne out by this random list of mine ... or rather, "my wife's". But the Dan happens to be one of my wife's favourite groups (and, quite coincidentally, my all-time personal fave), so I went ahead and ripped and uploaded their whole darn ouevre. That's a lot of songs, so the real surprise is seeing two from Lisa Stansfield in such a short span -- there's only one album by her in this little gizmo.

Maybe when I've taken a break from numbering pages, I'll see if I can't somehow generate a random selection of my music on the PC (in the interests of fair representation).

Over at Slate: iPod, Schmypod "Levy, a senior editor at Newsweek, is a prime example of the boomers who think the iPod is revolutionary. But really, they're grateful, because it's made them feel cool again" - Michael Agger


DarkoV said...

AH, jsut go ahead and call me a Luddite. and get it over with. I read the NYT Book Review of Mr. Levy's book last week and my first thoughts were, "This guy has way too much time on his hands". That thought was immediatley followed by that same impression one gets when you see a stack of new cd's in a store of an "artist" that one'd deemed long ago as unworthy of pressed plastic. Oh how the trees must have moaned when they realized they were getting chopped off to serve as the print matter for Levy's book.

The Luddite thing? I'm not a fan of random play. Wasn't when I got my first cd player in days of yore. Am not now in the days of the iPod wheelie. Ye, I'm the one who "put" the music in my Nano, but darn if I want this little machine to be deciding it knows me by my inputs and be therefore comfortable enough to be playing my music in its selected order.

Maybe part of that attitude comes from doing the occassional dj thing at the local college. The whole point of the radio show is that I choose the music and the order.

Just grumbling on....

ジョエル said...

I've got to admire your music choices. "Call it Democracy" is a great song.

Whisky Prajer said...

DV - the Luddites have a proud heritage, and it would be a mark against my own heritage were I to loft any stones from my shiny glass house toward their cozy wood cabins. In fact, at the rate it's taken me to figure out how to NUMBER MY *&#%ING PAGES I COULD HAVE DONE IT BY HAND WITH A QUILL AND BERRY JUICE!! GAH!!!

I'm (mostly) better now. Halloween is still a few days away...

ジョエル - we're both partial to Cockburn. He only improves with age.

Whisky Prajer said...

DV - I should also say that my "shuffle" feature for CD playing was rarely used, but that I think shuffling 800+ songs is a horse of a slightly different colour. 800 songs shuffled is potentially your own radio station, or the "movie soundtrack" to your life. I can see why it's considered something of an "identity thing".