Sunday, January 4, 2009

Playing With Playlists

This iTunes thingy is pretty nifty. The holidays have given me some extra time in the mornings, and I've spent the last few days putting a little organization to my music collection. There is much to organize.

In my younger days I used to traipse around the county with microphones and tape deck recording concerts. Blues Traveller, Widespread Panic, and Grateful Dead were my favorites, but I was known to stick a mic in the air for anything that made my backbone slip. I put it all away when I got married, but the hobby left me with a mountain of archived music. I'm still not sure how many hours. Lately I've dug up DAT masters from the '90's that I've never listened to.

On top of all the live stuff and the cabinet of store-bought CD's in the living room, there is iTunes: that ultra-convenient marketplace for all things media. My old MP3 player died during the summer and was replaced at Christmas with a shiney new 16Gb Nano and several iTunes gift cards. I went kinda apeshit. Between my existing collection and the Genius feature in iTunes, I collected, well, a lot.

Without being too sentimental, suffice it to say music is a big part of my life. It puts ideas in my head and gives me perspective. I grew up listening to Devo, Parliament, Al Greene, Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Elvis Costello, Glenn Campbell, Iggy Pop, ZZ Top, the Alman Brothers. I could go on. My folks gave me my first single, "Hard Days Night", when I was six, and I played it to death on this little Playschool turntable. I bought my first album, "Houses of the Holy" with paper route money in 1973. When I was in high school, punk emerged from the ashes of disco and gave some of us a little hope and respite from the likes of Ted Nugent, Donna Summer, and Bachman Turner Overdrive. It was the heyday of FM radio and Steely Dan was there to glorify it for us. I went to my very first concert - ZZ Top at Barton Coliseum - in 1977 (I had tickets to Lynyrd Skynyrd but they never made it to town). I recorded my first Dead show in Nashville in '78.

MTV arrived just as I was going into the navy and introduced me to a new host of British bands that my wife still adores. Unfortunately we're stuck with the influence of the music "lifestyle" that MTV created - but you gotta take the bad with the good. To me, it was all too weird. I remember in the early '80's watching a video by (Duran Duran I think?) I don't remember. I do remember the song was about rejection and loneliness or something, and the scene was a girl wandering around an apartment, and then on a street. Suddenly this blender goes flying by, followed by all sorts of out-of-place objects as the scene shifted from black-and-white to color and back. What a joke. I don't have any idea what that had to do with the song, but it really typified MTV to me. I haven't looked at MTV in over twenty years, but I don't expect it would have changed much, if its even still around.

Just returned from my second westpac in the summer of '86, I found time to catch up with the scene again. I was living in San Diego in those days, and it seemed like all the music I cared about was making its way through town. I saw The Smiths and Dire Straights at SDSU. Paladins used to play regularly at a bar on the Mission Beach strip, along with Beat Farmers, The Replacements, X, Wall of Voodoo, and Los Lobos. I was in LA one weekend with some friends and caught Janes Addiction at the Wiskey-A-GoGo. And how could I ever forget Talking Heads, big suit and all, at the LA Forum? What a show! What a summer. After that I pretty-much decided I'd had enough of the navy, but I stayed on for two more years. San Diego, you know.

I have the iPod with me all the time these days. I like listening when I run or go to the gym or ride the Masi. I hook it up to some speakers when I'm putzing around the house or grilling out or playing with the kids. There is that element of exposing the kids to the influences of "my day", sort of like my dad did. Music is much more than the environmental element it was when I was growing up, but I stay true to the idea. I like to think that if it wasn't for me, there are things my kids might never hear - not while they're young, anyway. There is a crush of music vying for their attention and they already have their own idea of what's good. I don't know if they'll ever get around to exploring the live music archive. You know how boring the parents music is. But who knows?

So here's the first 50 of my Top 100 playlist. Lets see what y'all think. Comments?
Monkey Man 4:11 The Rolling Stones
Rock & Roll 3:48 Jane's Addiction
Sympathy 5:47 Jane's Addiction
Join Together 4:24 The Who
Stir It Up 5:21 Bob Marley & The Wailers
Dyin' Man 4:30 Widespread Panic
Can't Get Used to Losing You 3:02 The English Beat
What Difference Does It Make? 3:51 The Smiths
Pickin' Up The Pieces 4:26 Widespread Panic
Waiting for the End of the World 3:23 Elvis Costello
Calling Elvis 6:27 Dire Straits
In the Summertime 3:58 Shaggy
Lost in a Crowd 4:02 Rusted Root
Think 3:13 James Brown
Where I'm From 4:35 Digable Planets
Dead Egyptian Blues 3:52 Trout Fishing In America
Stay With Me 4:54 Rod Stewart, Ron Wood & Train
Stuck in the Middle with You 3:24 Stealers Wheel
Wild Kingdom 3:49 2 Skinnee J's
Folsom Prison Blues 2:45 Johnny Cash
Ace of Spades 3:06 Surf Report
Why Can't I Touch It? 6:34 Buzzcocks
One Way Out 4:58 The Allman Brothers Band
Walk on the Wild Side 4:13 Lou Reed
Hocus Pocus 6:43 Focus
Samson And Delilah 5:05 Grateful Dead
Skateaway 6:19 Dire Straits
One Summer 4:33 2 Skinnee J's
Fat Man In The Bathtub 4:53 Little Feat
Blues Prelude 4:05 Jorma Kaukonen
Two Step 6:27 Dave Matthews Band
Is This Love 7:29 Bob Marley & The Wailers
Apeman (Live) 4:01 The Kinks
Spill the Wine 4:55 War
Over the Hills and Far Away 4:49 Led Zeppelin
Godzilla 3:43 Blue Öyster Cult
Hits from the Bong 2:41 Cypress Hill
Ziggy Stardust 3:30 David Bowie
Planet Claire 4:38 The B-52's
Breakin' Down 4:01 Ben Harper
Jack (Live) 6:46 Widespread Panic
Cross Eyed Mary 3:59 Jethro Tull
Little Martha 2:08 The Allman Brothers Band
Price Of Eggs In China 3:04 Cosmic Giggle Factory
40 Miles from Denver 3:47 Yonder Mountain String Band
Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings 2:42 ZZ Top
I Know a Little 3:28 Lynyrd Skynyrd
Tomorrow Never Knows 6:15 Phil Manzanera
Down On the Corner 2:45 Creedence Clearwater Revival
One Step 11:21 Paladins

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