Thoughts on the iPod

February 13, 2008

Yes, yes, I know, I’m about 5 years behind half the people in this country on this, but I finally got an iPod this Christmas, and I thought I would note some of my thoughts on the ways in which it has changed my listening habits.

First of all, it has really made me think about my unwieldy collection of CDs. I must have burnt only a fraction of the total number, and this begs the question: how many of these CDs do I actually really want to keep? I mean, it’s conceivable I might want to listen to a track off that Bentley Rhythm Ace  album I have, for some reason, held on to for the last 10 years, but in all honesty it’s not going to happen. So maybe a CD purge is in order.

On a related note, burning a whole load of CDs has made me realise how weak parts of so many albums (including a lot of albums I like) are. One of my favourite albums of the 90s is Royal Trux’s Accelerator, and I still really like it, but could probably live without hearing half the tracks ever again, which made me think twice about burning the whole album. This is where compilations come into their own, since they provide perfect iPod fodder, and you can easily delete tracks without feeling guilty for dismembering a cherished album (a rockist idea anyway, I know!). Mix CDs are also great in this respect, since if done well they are unique in providing the cohesion of an album with the variety of a good compilation.

And the perfect medium to hear new mixes is in podcast form, which really has opened up a whole new world of (free!) music to me. The two I have subscribed to that particularly stand out are Resident Advisor (check here for a mix by the always excellent Optimo DJs) and the Beats in Space radio show coming out of NYC. As these choices indicate, another side-effect has been that I am listening to lots more dance music than previously, which is perhaps also to do with the fact that dance music tends to work better on headphones from an MP3 than, say, stoner metal.

It has also made me think about my small to medium sized collection of LPs. One the one hand, I kind of wish I had them available in a format that was easily transferrable to computer, since many of my favourite albums are in this format. But then, on the other hand, I picked up a copy of the gatefold edition of Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4, which features  some truly great artwork, making me remember why I enjoyed buying vinyl in the first place.

Finally, owning an iPod has brought home the need to buy myself a decent laptop, over which I have been prevaricating for years. I can’t continue to clog up Jude’s computer with my (to quote her) “funny bleepy music”!

Did anyone find their listening habits changing in the ways I describe when they first got an MP3 player? Or perhaps in other ways? Leave a comment!

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2 Responses to “Thoughts on the iPod”

  1. tom Says:

    Yeah a similar thing happened to me. I’ve reverted back to album listening recently though simply because these days I seem to be getting more joy out of complete records. The best albums are gestalt entities, whilst some tracks on Accelerator may seem weak when they pop up on random the whole album is much better than any individual song on it. It hink the chnage may have been precipitated by the iPod touch interface, seems to lend itself to listening to full albums. There’s no “shuffle all” option on the main menu which was my default click on my old 20gig model.

  2. neilstewart Says:

    Rockist! (joke)

    I’ll probably go back to listening to albums too once the iPod novelty wears off, and having vinyl kind of forces this anyway. I agree that Accelerator works really well as an album, and you’re right that it probably is hearing a track out of context that was the problem.

    Another thing- what is it with the iPod’s shuffle feature? It doesn’t so much shuffle, as play tracks of 5 particular CDs!


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