An Experimental Foray Into My Musical Psyche





I have an astounding nine hundred ninety-four song on my iPod. I am aware that this may appear as something less than astonishing to those who boast at having thousands of tunes on their own portable music devices and I often wonder why I have not extended my collection or, at the very least, added six more tracks in order to make an even thousand out of my choices. As it stands, iTunes cleverly informs me that I have more than three days worth of music. Three days! Really? No wonder I seldom hear the same song repeated and how unfortunate it is that I am not driving cross country at this very moment or maybe flying over oceans and continents where I could better utilize such extended listening pleasure.

Still, there remains a lagging question in the recesses of my mind.

"Beth," it nags, "do you really need such a volume of songs at your fingertips twenty-four hours a day?"

"Yes. Yes, I do. Why?"

"Do you even know what it is to which you listen?"

"Huh?"

"These songs ... these thousand minus six performances ... why are they on your iPod to begin with? Are they important? Do they speak to you - each and every one of them?"

Excuse me while I pause for dramatic effect ... or simply to give myself more time to ponder. You see - while I often ask myself random questions and answer myself accordingly - I have yet to truly develop an answer to this inquiry. In fact, I have an irritating habit of answering my own questions (You got it!) with another question. Truly. Read the conversation I had with myself above. It illustrates this point nicely. And, so, I habitually answer in exactly this manner: "What if I delete a song and then find my mood driving me to that exact composition? Then what?" My inner voice is temporarily silenced.

Music is my outlet and I adore all the amazing disguises (genres) that it can take. It is an addiction. It moves me. It evokes from me true emotion like little else can ... much of which would remain veiled without a melodic and lyrical prompt. Movies have a similar affect though I have always counted those emotions to be false - induced by fantasy situations. There is truth in music and with it come true and tangible feelings.

Unfortunately, I am not blessed musically myself. I can not sing. Well, I can - but it is nothing short of unaccomplished. I also play the piano. Poorly. To quote one of my favorite literary heroines, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, "I have always supposed it to be my own fault -- because I would not take the trouble of practising." (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen - And, shame on you if you actually needed this prompt.) Still, I love music.

I love ... okay, like the nine hundred ninety-four songs on my iPod but they probably could benefit from a wee bit of pruning. Therefore - I propose to myself a quick experiment. I shall put my iPod on shuffle. This is nothing new. It stays on this setting 99% of the time as I like the element of surprise involved with having the device select my songs at random and not knowing what could possibly come next. I will list here the first ten songs (no skipping) that I hear. I will then listen closely to each tune and take note (also here) of the lyric which most "speaks to me" from each. If there is no such lyric I will consider axing said track from my playlist. Yes, I did say "consider." Baby steps! I can not proceed to delete songs without purpose.

This is an opportune moment for me to enter some sort of artistic disclaimer regarding my music choices. I do not speak in jest when I say I listen to music in all its forms. So - I can not say what type of songs will be listed here. Rock to Rap. Country to Classical. Bluegrass to Broadway. Pop. Techno. Latin. African. Whatever. I even have some Christmas music on my iPod. That being said - I have no idea what I am going to get in these first ten songs. Remember - the iPod is selecting them for me. Yes, I am aware that I can rate my songs through iTunes and that higher rated songs will circulate more often. Know that I am too lazy to rate nine hundred ninety-four songs, so this will not be the case. They all stand an equal footing of jumping into my experiment.

Please hold all laughter and comments until the experiment is concluded. Thank you. Okay - that is a ridiculous request. Without further ado ...

1. Here With Me, REO Speedwagon (1988)
It would stand to figure that a sappy 80's ballad would spit out first. Ironically, this is a good song to prove the nagging doubts of why I have so many songs. I do not think I have ever listened to the lyrics. I most definitely can not sing them word for word. Hang on while I listen and try to pick a good lyric or two. "I think I've learned what love is, but I'm afraid I let it go." That's it. I know. Gag. This song is total crap - even the melody. I attribute its presence to my basic appreciation of the band. Hmmm? This just might prove easier than originally intended.
Song #1 is outta here!

2. Fat Bottomed Girls, Queen (1978)
I LOVE THIS SONG! It is a crude anthem, but it must be adored. I do not care if you, reader, like it or not. Favorite lines? Easy! "Ain't no beauty queens at this locality" and "Fat bottomed girls you make the rockin' world go round." Yeah we do!
Song #2 stays (as does everything else by Queen should it pop up further on)!

3. Romeo, Dolly Parton (w/ Mary Chapin Carpenter, Pam Tillis, Kathy Mattea, Tanya Tucker & Billy Ray Cyrus) (1993)
Okay. So, this one is mildly embarrassing ... not to mention slightly sacrilegious to the student of English Literature who is currently conducting this experiment. That would be me if you aren't paying attention. Sorry Shakespeare. I am sure you are, indeed, turning in your grave (as the song itself indicates). Does it have any deep meaning or relevance in my life? Nope. Guilty pleasure, maybe? Hell yes. "My temperature keeps rising every time we meet. I may not be in love but, let me tell you, I'm in heat." Yep. I've seen a few of those in my time. What does it say about me that I didn't find Billy Ray Cyrus attractive in his mullet wearing, one-hit-wonder, 'Achy Breaky Heart' days ... but I think he is hot now as dad (fictional and real) to 'Hannah Montana' on television? I'll tell you what it means. I am getting old. That's what it means.
Still, song #3 stays. Leave me alone.

4. (I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight, Cutting Crew (1986)
"I keep looking for something I can't get. Broken hearts lie all around me and I don't see an easy way to get out of this." Yeah ... me either. It really "must've been some kind of kiss" to warrant all the fuss. Is this a song about a guy and a hooker? Why is he just "a name on a list?" I may have to listen to it again. I don't know.
Song #4 is stuck in limbo.

5. What's Love Got To Do With It, Tina Turner (1984)
I think my iPod is stuck in an 80's time warp. Still - this is .... TINA!! Hello! "Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?" still resonates within me even though I do find it false. I may not embrace my heart at every turn, but I know I need it. And, yet, there is truth to: "Opposites attract. It's physical. Only logical. You must try to ignore that it means more than that." Often we, as humans, confuse love and attraction. They are not always mutual.
Song #5 obviously stays.

[Deep breath ... we are only half way there. Go get a cup of tea or something ... settle in for the long haul.]

6. Easy To Love, Harry Connick Jr. (1999)
Mmmmmmm. Jazz. Smooth voice. Sigh. This song only has eight lines. Tell me, what girl doesn't want a man to sing these words to her, "You'd be so easy to love ... so easy to idolize all others above ... so worth the yearning for ...?" That's what I thought.
Song #6 smoothly stays.

7. Singin' In The Rain, Gene Kelly (1952)
I bet that one surprised you, huh? Yes, my melancholia regurgitates. But, I can not help but visualize the movie sequence that delightfully accompanies this tune each time I hear it. "What a glorious feeling. I'm happy again." Again. He said, "happy again," which indicates he has been unhappy. Cool. I can relate to that. Not to mention, it is a musical classic and Gene Kelly simply rocks! I had forgotten I had it.
Song #7 taps its way into staying.

8. Better Than Me, Hinder (2007)
I can get lost in this song even though it is sung from the male perspective. "I told myself I won't miss you. But I remember what it feels like beside you." Completely lost. "I can't pretend I won't think about you when I'm older. 'Cause we never really had our closure. This can't be the end." Utterly Lost.
Song #8 stays put.

9. Stairway To Heaven, Led Zeppelin (1971)
I think the word, "Duh!" applies well to this situation. Why wouldn't I have this on my iPod? Everyone should have this on their iPod. "And as we wind on down the road; Our shadows taller than our soul; There walks a lady we all know; Who shines white light and wants to show; How everything still turns to gold; And if you listen very hard; The tune will come to you at last; When all are one and one is all; To be a rock and not to roll; Woe oh oh oh oh oh; And she's buying a stairway to heaven." See? Duh! It's moments like these that I wish I could play the guitar.
Song #9 stays. Duh!

10. Chasing Cars, Snow Patrol (2006)
I am hard pressed to choose just one lyric from this song. I can not. It is between, "Would you lie with me and just forget the world?" or "Those three words are said too much. They're not enough." or "Let's waste time chasing cars around our heads." 'Nuff said. Honestly.
Song #10 .. yep, stays.

Thus ends my experiment. One out of ten eliminated. At this rate, I can lose ... what ... 90 songs? I hate math. Someone help me. Amazingly, there was no appearance from Bon Jovi (This would be my largest single artist collection by far.) or U2 (Scandalous!) or George Michael (Yes. You read that right.) in this random ten. Duran Duran and INXS were also noticeably absent. They must have been hiding somewhere in the digital memory. Odd. Then again, that is par for the course when it comes to my psyche ... even in my musical mind. Please, do not let this glimpse into my insanity disturb you too greatly. As for me - I am off to do another ten songs. I quite enjoyed this strangely round-a-bout analysis of self. Do not fret. I will keep the results of future experimental forays into my musical psyche to myself.

"I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs, and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music." ~George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for an almost painless insight into the iPod world which saves me from actually using one. Me, I am still terrified and irritated by my mobile phone, though it's the oldest and least-featured I can get (my daughter's from several years ago. So how you get tunes into an iPod, and then out again, is a mystery I'd prefer not to solve.

    However, I do recognize and approve many of your choice of songs---ten is more than enough thank you! Especially Fat-bottomed girls and its companion song (in my mind at least) I like to ride my bicycle

    I've downloaded songs in my time, and left them on my computer in some obscure file, and even burned them onto CDs which remain in obscure drawers, and that seems as far as I will go.

    On an iPod, don't you have to stick 'phones in your ears? I could not walk out with that, for I might miss birdsong. And indoors? I don't know, the radio plays random songs anyhow!

    But still, thanks for your piece, in all its intricacy. You have explained an area of experience that I hope never to have to endure.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, yes ... I adore Queen. The iPod does have headphones which get utilized when I am working out or attempting to drown out other noise pollution. I have this other nifty device that allows me to run the iPod through any unused radio station, so in the car and at home I can listen to it as well. I am a total techno-junkie. If I had more money ... I would have more gadgets ... and then I would realize I don't possibly need that much crap so it is a good thing life is forcing me to keep things simplistic at the moment!

    ReplyDelete

"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman

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