Listen to the music: Keep on keepin’ on

8 01 2013

I lost my groove.

I mentioned in a previous post that I am no longer a completist, that is, I no longer need to own every cd by every singer or band that I like. Five U2 cds? Enough. Six REM? Plenty. It’s not that I won’t buy any more cds of those for whom I already own multiple discs, but, y’know, the urgency has faded.

Given my former completist sensibilities, however, I do own many cds by one band/singer which, frankly, has been a problem on my quest to listen to every cd I own: I burn out on a group.

My current (cheapo) stereo allows me to load 3 discs at a time, which is just right: Enough for a solid listening section, without me wanting to cut it short. But when you’re working through your collection alphabetically, that means the Beatles are followed by the Beatles followed by the Beatles.

I like the Beatles. But, unlike in the past where I would overdose on a single group, I no longer have the patience to listen to three or six hours of the Beatles or Beck or, really, anyone. Hell, the 72-minute long Mary J. Blige cd was too long for me.

Like I said, the groove was gone.

Once it became apparent that I was avoiding listening to my cds because I didn’t want multiple all-Beck nights, I decided to switch things up. I considered just plucking cds out randomly, but I figured that the pick wouldn’t really be random and that I’d just pick cds I often listen to. No, better to continue with the alpha-step, but tweak it.

Now, when I have more than one cd by the same performer(s), I choose the first one, then pick a cd from the following groups. So I chose Beck’s Mellow Gold, then Daniel Belanger, then Belle and Sebastien’s “Tigermilk”. The next night, Beck’s Sea Change, Belle & Sebastien’s Storytelling, and Belly’s star.

Works like a charm.

A few other things. One, I really do like Belly. I like Tanya Donelly’s wordplay (On every track/I fractured every back/Thinking the point was step on every crack), and how her voice cracks on “Super-Connected”—one of the things that distinguishes pop singing from, say, operatic singing is that the flaws are an integral part of the force of the song. (Think of Merry Clayton’s break in the Stones’s “Gimme Shelter”: she’s been hauling Jagger through that wail, and when she finally breaks near the end, you know what she’s been through and what she’s put you through.)

Two, I am a puddle in the face of a good leftist rallying song. Goddamn if I didn’t tear up listening to Black 47’s “James Connelly” (Oh Lily, I don’t want to die, we’ve got so much to live for/And I know we’re all goin’ out to get slaughtered, but I just can’t take any more). I am a pinko all the way through my bitter little heart.

Three, I think this whole quest is starting to take shape. Early on I was treating this as a kind of duty; even as I claimed I wanted to see if I could recapture my connection to the music, it felt more like a test—and who likes taking tests? But I’ve gotten off my ass enough times to shimmy around the wood floor, or paused just to take in the words and the sounds that now, now it feels more like a chance.

And that’s all right.

28. Be Good Tanyas, Chinatown
29. Be Good Tanyas, hello love
30. Beach Boys, Endless Summer
31. Beatles, Revolver
32. Beatles, Abbey Road
33. Beatles, Please Please Me
34. Beatles, White Album
35. Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
36. Beck, Odelay
37. Beck, Midnight Vultures
38. Beck, Mutations
39. Beck, Mellow Gold
40. Daniel Belange, Rever Mieux
41. Belle and Sebastien, “Tigermilk”
42. Beck, Sea Change
43. Belle and Sebastien, Storytelling
44. Beck, Guero
45. Belly, star
46. Belly, King
47. Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos, Chant
48. Beta Band, Hot Shots II
49. Bettie Serveet, lamprey
50. Jordy Birch, Funmachine
51. Bjork, Post
52. Black 47 [eponymous ep-cd]
53. Mary J. Blige, No More Dramas




30 responses

9 01 2013

never heard of black 47 so I’m off to youtube…

10 01 2013
10 01 2013

Reblogged this on cftc10.

10 01 2013

I find the best way to remain interested in a band/singer is to keep wanting more of their music, so not feeling a need to buy all the albums they have done makes sense.

10 01 2013
L. Palmer

It’s so easy to collect music now, especially in digital format. I think a lot of people don’t fully appreciate everything they have logged together on an MP3 player. While I’ve transferred to buying music in digital format, I still like to buy the whole album and listen to it from beginning to end. I find more respect for artists who look at albums as a whole work of art rather than individual songs that may or may not make it on the radio. I love albums that are an experience, and am surprised when I’ve reached the end.

10 01 2013

Interestingly enough, every time I see the phrase “Keep On Keepin’ On” I automatically think one must be quoting a band called The Riptide Movement. Now THAT is what happens when you listen to a band too much…

10 01 2013

Reblogged this on Jaggi.

10 01 2013
Adventures in Kevin's World

I used to be a “completist” (I like that term) once upon a time as well, which is why I own over 700 CDs. But like you, I realized there’s not always a point to that. As great as some bands are/were (like REM) the fact is that there are always some duds worth avoiding.

10 01 2013

Hi, I just stumbled upon your blog and, intrigued by the post title, decided to give it a read. I’m so happy that you included Belly and Black 47 in your post! Took me back to a different time and inspired me to dust off my cd collection that’s been gathering dust for far too many years. Anyhow, many thanks – keep on keepin’ on.
P.S. Love love love Black 47!! Glad to know someone else is moved by their lyrics, too.

10 01 2013

@dmf: Black 47 is a decent bar band with a decent ep. I had their long-form cd before the burglary, but there was a reason I didn’t replace it.

@48colorrainbow: I think there’s something to that. It’s as if after a certain point exhaustion sets in, or the obligation to BUYEVERTHING becomes such a burden you just burn out on the whole shebang. I think that happened for me with U2, for example; once I decided I didn’t need to keep buying their new stuff, I could go back and enjoy what I had.

@LPalmer: I have never purchased an electronic single, and even when I was young, I didn’t buy 45s. I bought albums, and then cds, and while I haven’t bought new music in a while, if I do start again, I’ll buy either a cd or download the whole thing. So, yeah.

@roqueandrolle: Ha. I was thinking of the song the Brady kids sang. . . .

@Adventures: Yeah, REM was one of those, along with U2 and Talking Heads that I just kinda said, “Really?!” “Automatic for the People” is genius—and that’s where I stopped.

@fallstarr: Something about earnest and angry and heartbroken Irish singers. . . .

11 01 2013

You simply seem to have a thingie for the letter B.

11 01 2013

I am hopeful there are more people out there interested in the story a band/singer is creating by at least listening to the whole album through in sequence. Artists like Frank Ocean have started building an experience. That being said I love the Apple Genius- she always knows just want to play;)

11 01 2013

You’ve got great taste in music 🙂
I have also lost my “completist” tendencies, though I still feel I should get caught up on U2 (which I mostly had on TAPE) and REM. I have all the early stuff, and then my collection peters out around 1998. Damn, that’s 14 years ago!!

11 01 2013

Follow me!!

11 01 2013

Got a crapload of CDs. My taste morphs. Right now it’s kinda locked in on Esperanza Spaulding and 60’s Fleetwood Mac. Tomorrow Beth Orten, who knows?

11 01 2013

@dzisperado: More a thing for alliteration, actually, and then I usually go for the P.

@meliciousmanners (niiiiiice name), There were always individual songs I liked more than others on an album, but listening to it “naked”, without the others, somehow detracted from it. Still, I do like the shuffle function on my Mp3 player.

@Kylie. Oh, man, tapes: I got rid of almost all of them before I left Minneapolis—piled the lot on the wall next to the dumpster, hoping someone else would take ’em. I think I kept the mixed tapes for awhile, but then, eventually, I got rid of those, too.

There is one tape I kept, by Chris Lowe. He’s a friend of a friend who sang at her wedding, and I loved his cd—made a tape of it, in fact. Unfortunately, his cd was one of those swiped in the burglary, and because (I did not know this) he shares a name of one of the Pet Shop Boys, it’s damned near impossible to try to track his cd down. Hm. I should listen to the tape.

@Kelsey: Okay!

@tomwisk: Yeah, that is the nice thing about an overloaded collection. I went through a Bill Withers moment, then went on a tear for Nina Simone. For awhile I couldn’t listen to anything but Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and then, y’know, Poi Dog Pondering.

Funny you should mention Beth Orton: I didn’t love Central Reservation when I first got it, then I listened a few times and BAM! that was it. I guess it’s partly that memory which is making me go through my cds now—to try to nose (ear?) out those I may have overlooked.

12 01 2013
Thom Topham

Mr alliterative TT here! I hope my CD gets into your collection, once it’s out. All my music is online (google me!) and, via hyperlinks, in my multimedia autoBLOGography ‘My Unplanned Obsolescence’. I’ve just posted Chapter 9 here on WordPress. Check it OUT (starting with Chapter 1, of course!).

13 01 2013

It was a long time a go when I had this fun of collecting my favorite’s music. Beatles is one of my favorite’s and when I feel like listening, there are some memories bring back to me. Thanks for sharing your post. I indeed enjoyed reading it!

15 01 2013
Alison Armstrong

Reblogged this on Alison's Music Blog and commented:
This post got me thinking about my listening habits. I own about 30 CDs, whereas my husband owns over 1000. I listen sporadically and usually focus on one artist or their hit singles, my husband likes to listen to an album from start to finish and has music playing constantly. What are your listening habits?

15 01 2013
Alison Armstrong


15 01 2013

@TT: Unplanned Obsolescence—ain’t that how we are all?

@jce: Yeah, there really was a thrill in tracking down old stuff, or getting the new album justassoonasitdropped. Been awhile. . . .

@AA: I’m not quite sure how many I have—700? 800? 900? I went on a tear re-buying after the burglary, then just kept on going. I still picked up cds regularly when I lived in Somerville, but I haven’t bought many since my move to NYC. I just, I don’t know, I just stopped.

At home I usually have WNYC on, or some nights, WQXR (classical). I try to catch John Schaefer’s “New Sounds” at 11: I don’t like everything, but I do like a lot of what he plays.

And this listening-through-my-cds kick got started for a number of reasons, one of which was to remember what I had in my collection, what I overlooked, what I might miss. I queue up 3 cds in my cheapo system, and go from there.

On the train, though, I switch my Mp3 player between shuffle mode, or just picking an artist and listening all the way through.

16 01 2013

check out !!!

16 01 2013

Welcome to the joy of being Freshly Pressed. Helluv’a ride, isn’t it?

I don’t know why, but reading this post reminded me of mix tapes. I know they’ve gone the way of the dinosaur, but I rather miss them. There was something much more personal about them than somebody putting together a mix today by just arranging a bunch of MP3 files and burning them off to CD or adding them to an iTunes set. There was a lot of thought involved, what songs to use, what order to put them in, because you only had one chance to get that cassette right.

Sadly, my old mix tapes were stolen out of the trunk of my old car ten years ago. And you have no idea how much I wish I had the track listings…

17 01 2013
Steve Swindells

Great blog! Let me know when you get to SS – I hope my CDs might be there! Meanwhile, check out my short stories, they’re gonna keep on coming!

19 01 2013

Thank you for reminding me that I need to finish ripping all my cd’s to mp3’s so I can have all my albums on my computer/phone/tablet…. and put all those cd’s in a closet out of site. I think I own probably around 400 cd’s and I have about 300 of them ripped so far………… ripping cd’s is a lot of work!

21 01 2013

The experience of listening to music is so different from one person to another. How many people actually recognise what they are listening to in terms of the different instruments? When you develop a more discerning ear for music, you become totally immersed in each track as if they are playing in the same room. Right now I have Esperanza Spalding in the background (Cantora De Yala) as I work.

21 01 2013
Alex Delaney

What do you think the impact of TV talent shows like the X Factor and American Idol has been on popular music and the way we see music in general? Take a look at my article on it, see what you think!

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