Monday, May 19, 2008

The Muffypod Takes a Powder

I have a love-hate relationship with my iPod; I love the convenience of it, but I deplore what it has done to my concept of music.

I used to view a song as part of an entire album, just a piece of a larger work, a work that consisted of both exceptional and substandard songs. Now, for me, a song is an isolated object. My patience for album-listening has gone down. These days I tend to listen to songs on "shuffle" instead.

On Saturday night my MuffyPod became suddenly corrupted. They always tell you not to unplug iPods when they're doing "busy stuff" on your computer, but in my experience the MuffyPod will sometimes do "busy stuff" until the cows come home (and then the cows get angry because they can't shut it off either). So I'll occasionally rebel against convention by unplugging my iPod when I shouldn't, and by doing so I have totally trashed the poor thing, leaving me with 864 songs out of the 12,000 that used to be on there.

This was my first (somewhat childish) emotional response:

MuffyPod Takes a Powder

Then I got greedy.

"Hey, why bother uploading all those songs back into this piddly 6oGB iPod...I should just buy a 160GB one instead!"

Yes, but...

"Why commit myself to years of uploading songs using a USB 1.0's REALLY time to upgrade my computer! I actually need to buy a new iMac!"

Yes, but...

"If I buy a new iMac, I shouldn't splurge on a brand new iPod right away...I'll get the iMac first -- next weekend, probably -- and then buy a new iPod somewhere down the road."

So you see how I've convinced myself that the failure of my iPod actually justifies the purchase of a WHOLE NEW COMPUTER. And it really DOES make some sort of sense, or at least it would if I hadn't just bought a car and if I actually had a piece of furniture to put the new computer ON.

Thanks, MuffyPod...your legacy will be credit debt and a brief return to "album-oriented" song appreciation. The god of technology works in mysterious ways.


Eli McIlveen said...

Sean and our roommate went out to buy Christmas lights and came back with an Xbox, which apparently necessitated the purchase of an HD TV because the text in some game or other was unreadable. Hoo boy.

For better or worse, I have little patience these days for the substandard songs on albums. Not enough room - out they go. Of course, I mostly use the thing to listen to podcasts anyway, with music available as an occasional stimulant to get me through the last couple hours of the work day.

Adam Thornton said...

Christmas lights -> Xbox -> HD TV, a logical progression! Christmas lights always lead to harder stuff.

If a song is REALLY substandard then I will remove it from the iPod, but if it's just "nothing special" then I'll keep it there for reasons of dynamism (to make the good songs sound so much better) and obsessive completism.

I have never downloaded a podcast, it just never occurs to me. Plus I listen(ed) to my iPod while writing manuals, so distracting speech is a no-no.

Eli McIlveen said...

Yeah, anything talky I listen to pretty much strictly when on the streetcar or doing housework. The up side to commuting is the enforced reading time, away from the distractions of home.

Adam Thornton said...

That's a good enforced reading time is lunchtime, and in the evenings when the cat gets pushy.

The Vicar of VHS said...

>>I used to view a song as part of an entire album, just a piece of a larger work, a work that consisted of both exceptional and substandard songs. Now, for me, a song is an isolated object.

I was reading an article recently (i.e., the last year or so) where they were talking to (I think) Mick Jagger about how iPods and music downloads have changed music. Being one of the 5 oldest rockers still rocking on this plane, he had a long-term view of it. He said something to the effect that, back when the stones started, they didn't put out albums--they put out SINGLES. The albums were just collections of singles.

He saw the pay-per-download development (rightly, I think) as a return to the days when the single song was king, and a band had to put out good songs in order to sell (single) records.

So while the "album as a larger work" concept may suffer, we may also start getting better complete records because of the pressure to make every song count. Of course that means market forces and consumer testing and trial runs and things might homogenize a lot of the output (whoa, that'd be something new, huh? :)) but it could be a good thing.

Which I know is not the point of your post, but I don't even own an iPod so I didn't have much to say on that. :) I do buy a lot of DVDs, though.

Adam Thornton said...

Holy cow!

Leave it to Mick Jagger to give me an epiphany. It had never occurred to me that an "album oriented" attitude followed forty years of "singles only."

I guess I'm particularly in love with albums because I grew up during an era of "concept albums." The first record I ever bought was "The Wall," and I listened to a lot of Mike Oldfield, Legendary Pink Dots, etc...groups whose albums usually NEED to be listened to from beginning to end, because the songs themselves are part of a whole.

Anonymous said...

The wheel turns and turns, ever onward. Especially the steel ones.