Is there such a thing as too much music?Posted: March 15, 2005
This is a common problem. I sit in front of my computer trying to find something to listen to for what seems like hours. I’ve got plenty of music on iTunes, at present, I could listen to music for over 8 days and never listen to the same thing twice (except for all 17 versions of numerous DMB songs courtesy of my husband) It would seem that there should be no problem finding something to suit my mood. It should be a simple process – am I in the mood for something deep and reflective like Elliott Smith or Radiohead…. or something fun and upbeat like John Mellencamp or Three Dog Night? Maybe I want blues like Robert Johnson… or poppy like The Beatles… maybe it’s sunny and The Eagles would be a perfect fit. Sometimes late at night when I’m almost ready to go to bed, surely The Shins would be a better choice than Guns ‘n Roses. Or just maybe, Clint has been out of town and I have an overwhelming urge for some Dave Matthews. See – it shouldn’t be that hard. But it is – as I type this I’m listening to Radiohead’s “Hail to the Thief” and it took me over 10 minutes to make that decision. It might help if I could browse by genre – I know iTunes has this feature but if you’re an itunes user go browse by genre right now and you’ll see what I’m talking about. According to iTunes, the only Alternative Rock music I have is PJ Harvey, Pete Yorn is classified as Punk, and while I agree that Michelle Branch (my husbands, not mine) is pop, I don’t think Mark Knopfler would be too happy to know that he’s stuck there too. In fact, most of my music is placed in no genre – you would think it would be easy to assign Sarah Mclachlan and Aretha Franklin (pop and R&B respectively), but iTunes places them in no category. I know I could assign all the albums appropriate genres but that is too damn much work. So my problem remains. I honestly think that I might just have too much music to choose from. It could also be the way I listen to music. I don’t know what other people do but unless I’m putting on music as background noise to clean or sew or something, I rarely listen to entire albums. If I’m listening to “listen to music” I want to skip around and hear all of my favorites. And yes, I’ve got a million playlists. The problem is that the 25 songs I wanted to listen to yesterday aren’t the same 25 songs I want to listen to today. Sure there are some songs that I’m almost always in the mood to listen to – but the key word is “almost”. There are circumstances under which I just don’t feel like hearing “The Origin of Love” from the Hedwig and the Angry Inch soundtrack – I know it’s amazing that anyone could say that. Also I don’t want to go strictly by these playlists because I forget about music I love. I can go months without remembering how much I love Elton John’s “Goodbye” or Radiohead’s “Climbing up the Walls”. So I have limited choices. I can choose to jump around and listen to a bunch of stuff – the downfall being that this requires constant attention and I might forget a song I love. I can choose a playlist, but this is going to end with me skipping a lot of songs because I’m simply not in the mood to listen to Ani Difranco sing “Shy”. Or I can listen to entire albums which is difficult because there are few albums that I truly like every song on them – Radiohead’s “Kid A”, The Beatles “Abbey Road”, Elton John’s “Madman Across the Water”, U2’s “Joshua Tree”, and right now REM’s “Around the Sun” are the only ones I can do it with. Many albums come close and I suppose I could uncheck “No Surprises” on OK Computer and such and have a few more. Actually, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I actually just realized that might be a good solution. Ok, but I know that I’m still going to end up switching albums after the first 3 or 4 songs because what always happens is that track 3 or whatever reminds me of some song I like and I have to listen to right this minute and it does no good to finish whatever I’m listening to right now because now anything short of Jackson Browne singing “The Pretender” is just crap. See, as we speak I remembered how much I like that song and I’m going to have to switch over to it – except that for some reason Jackson Browne always makes me think about Broadway plays so now I think instead I’ll listen to the West Side Story Soundtrack and I ask you – How in the hell can someone who is listening to Radiohead suddenly get a desperate urge to hear “I Feel Pretty”?
I hope I’m alone in this, because if I’m not….. I’m scared for this world.