Friday, January 26, 2007


This week, I found myself doing something I haven't done with any regularity in a long time - I listened to a whole album by a single artist on my Ipod on the way to work. The next day day I listened to another album. And then the next day, I listened to a third album in its entirety.
When I first got an Ipod, four years ago, my listening habits did not change significantly. I played cd's on my cd player, connected to an amplifier, connected to a pair of speakers. I listened to cd's by individual artists in my car. My Ipod was secondary, and when I did listen to it, I did so in the same way I listened to music on my stereo or in my car - album by album. I hardly ever used the shuffle selector on the Ipod wheel.
At some point, this changed. I discovered that, for me, the real attractiveness of the Ipod was in its ability to surprise. It was like listening to a really cool radio station that only played songs it either knew that you liked or that you were planning to like as soon as you could get to it.
Gradually my Ipod (and Itunes), set on "shuffle," became my primary source for hearing music. When we moved last year. I didn't even set up my stereo.
The idea of listening to a whole album began to seem more and more foreign. Once in awhile, I would leave my apartment with my Ipod set to play a new album I had just downloaded, but chances are I would change to shuffle before I even reached the subway stop.
This week that changed. For three days in a row, I set my Ipod to play an album, and i listened to that album (quite happily) all the way to my office. (The trip takes about 45 minutes.)
I've been trying to figure out if this marks a change in my music listening or that I just happened on three albums I really liked. I mean, I obviously liked the albums. (The first day I listened to Malajube's Trompe L'Oeil - see the previous post. The next day it was the Submarine's Declare a New State, which I had never heard of until the day before, when I came across a track of theirs on a blog, and then bought the album on Emusic. The third day I listened to Lewis and Clarke's Bare Bones and Branches, an album I've owned for several months but never listened to all the way through.
As I said, the quality of the music is not in question. All three albums are great. But I've bought other albums I've liked a lot over the past couple of years and haven't listened to them all the way through. So I'm wondering if I've suddenly developed (or rediscovered) a Zen mind music listening consciousness that allows me the patience to listen and enjoy a full album without constantly thinking "What's next?" Or am I just feeling particularly passive and tired this week?
I don't know the answer. I do know that today, after reading a review in Pitchfork, I downloaded The Hammock's Raising Your Voice...Trying to Stop an Echo and enjoyed it tremendously with my New York Times.
The Submarines - Peace and Hate
Lewis & Clarke - Bare Bones and Branches
The Hammock - Raising Your Voice...Trying to Stop an Echo