Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

31 January 2007

Technology and Music and Me

I love my iPod. It's like, the best invention ever - the best invention since...I don't know...the cellphone? It's so much fun! That might sound a little kooky, but hear me out. Understand, I love music. Seriously. Can't play a note, but love listening to it. Sometimes I think that instead of becoming a pilot I should have stayed in radio, or migrated into some other aspect of the music industry. But I didn't. Paths diverge, we make our choices, blah blah blah, here I am on my helicopter blog writing about music.

Back in the day, I used to make so-called mix-tapes. You'd take your favorite songs from records or other cassettes you already owned, and then dub them onto blank cassettes. Then you'd plug the new cassette into your Walkman, put your headphones on, pump up the volume and the outside world would faaaaaaaade awaaaaaaaayyyyy. Very annoying if you were trapped on a bus or a train seated next to someone who was listening to their Walkman loud. Which means that people were often annoyed when seated next to me.

The trouble with mix-tapes was that: A) the number of songs each cassette could hold was limited; and B) the order of the songs was set - you always knew which one was coming up next. So the songs ended up interrelating. This is not always a good thing. Sometimes songs need to stand on their own.

The iPod is a vast, oh-God-why-didn't-they-invent-this-before?- improvement. First of all, it holds tons more songs than the longest cassette ever could. Secondly, it plays the songs randomly, so every successive song is a surprise. And if you've chosen the music carefully, a pleasant surprise. With a capacity of 250 songs (which I intend to take full advantage of), I doubt I'll ever go, "Dang, this song again!" And even if I do, deleting a song off the iPod is easy. Not so easy to do on the mix-tape.

I have to admit that I primarily like loud, hard-drivin', foot-stompin' (but not head-bangin') rock. But I'm no music snob! Nope, I love all types of music, and can listen to almost anything - for three minutes at a time or less! My iPod has an incredible variety of music...music of all genres. New music and old music, alternative to rock to country to disco to folk to R&B and back to rock. I've got music I thought was lost forever. For instance!

Back in the early 1980's when the category of Alternative music was invented there was a radio station on Long Island, N.Y. called WLIR. As luck would have it, that's where I was living at the time. Oh man, the strange and wonderful music WLIR played! Most radio stations of the time were fairly conservative. Even "free-form" rock stations stuck with traditional artists and genres. With WLIR you never knew what they were going to come up with next. It was simply exhilarating, especially for someone like me who was brought up on rigidly-formatted Top-40 radio.

One record WLIR played was by a soca artist(!) called Mighty Sparrow. "Soca" is calypso music with the tempo cranked up to eleven. This particular song was called "Wanted Dead Or Alive," a super-uptempo, clever rundown of all of the various worldwide dictators of the day, of which we had many back then. I only heard the song a couple of times. But it was catchy. And you know how I am about clever, catchy, super-uptempo tunes. But try as I might, I could never find much information on Mighty Sparrow, and I never heard the song again. Figured I never would.

But along comes the internet, my iPod, and iTunes! With a little bit of keyboard noodling, I not only found all I ever wanted to know about Mighty Sparrow (who's been recording since the 1950's, by the way), but I found the song! Ninety-nine cents later, it's mine. Downloaded and in the mix. Gotta love iTunes!

Kids these days, they're so lucky. They have all this cool shit to play with that my generation couldn't even dream about. I can't wait to see what's going to be invented next. Like the new Nintendo Wii? I want one! And I don't even play video games. And how 'bout those automatically tinting contact lenses! Until I have that laser eye surgery, I wear contacts. An eye doctor told me that they now have contact lenses that tint when you go out in the sun. No more sunglasses to break and lose? How cool is that...I'm in! I may be getting old, but I love new technology.

And I love my iPod - have I mentioned that?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not the only one enamored with iTunes and an iPod. We've got almost 2,000 tunes on the computer right now so "come on down" someday and load up. Feather Ridge

island girl said...

I totally agree. I love my MP3 player. I love to add and delete songs depending on what I feel like right now. I love to download tunes by artists that I like but don't want to buy the whole CD. And I love the small size - the portability is fantastic. I can lsiten to it at work, in my car and especially when travelling. I love to pick up my tiny MP3 player on the beach and plug into my island mix of the moment.

Those contacts sound cool. I will look for them next time I go to get new ones. Thanks for the heads up.

Anonymous said...

I want ONE!

guanajamama said...

Hello Bob, I've been enjoying your blog. I have land on the north side and your blog is my mini-trip to Guanaja until we can be there this summer. Yup! I remember WLIR - -you're right, it's been hard to find anything like it in other places. They used to play a lot of songs by a L.I. band called the Good Rats. Ever hear 'em?

BTW - - I love your photos of Michael's Rock. I hope to build my house just down past Bo's one of these days . . .

Anonymous said...

Bob, This is your "Bart's tip of the week" for, well......this week! iTunes is a ripoff. Go to limewire.com and download all the songs you want, for FREE! Yes, it is illegal in the U.S. but guess what? Your in HONDURAS! You lucky devil!

Thank me later,

Bart

Bob Barbanes said...

Bart, a friend of mine has downloaded songs from various websites. When he transferred them to his iPod he found that some of them would not play! And he can't tell from looking at the playlist which ones will and which ones won't. I realize that iTunes is a ripoff with its $0.99 per-song charge, but I really don't mind. However, if Limewire's songs are compatible, I'll give it a look.

Thanks for the tip ;)