June 12, 2010

A couple weeks ago, I accepted the fact that it was time to replace the iPod.

After watching me mull it over for a few days, Paloma encouraged me to purchase a new device.

And I did opt for space, enough space to file most of all of the music I’ve gathered and have it at my fingertips.

The new iPod shows that there are 33,215 tracks loaded into it. The total is off by approximately 2,500 or so as there are 250 or so sides of albums ripped from vinyl and stored as a single track.

(laziness prompted me to rip each track individually when Paloma and I started buying vinyl two years ago)

Supposedly, it is 98 days of music.

It would require – give or take – one year to listen to all of it, provided I put in a 40-hour work week.

(I hashed out the math while having a smoke at my actual job)

I hold in my hands a small universe of music, yet I lack the power to gather enough time to listen to it all.

And, as Burgess Meredith learned in that acclaimed episode of The Twilight Zone, even time isn’t always enough.

So, here are four random tracks from the new iPod…

The Verve – Slide Away
from A Storm In Heaven

I’m not sure how I stumbled across the debut from The Verve in early ’94. It might have been from reading about the British quartet in Q or some other music magazine from the UK which was enthusiastic about the band.

I quickly became a fan of their dense, swirling psychedelic-styled modern rock and lead singer Richard Ashcroft struck me as a near-perfect representation of a rock star with his angular features, tousled hair, and indifferent swagger.

Unfortunately, aside from a brief bit of attention after Nike used the song Bittersweet Symphony from 1997’s Urban Hymns in a commercial, The Verve was generally ignored in the States and the masses missed out on one of the best bands of the ’90s.

The Equals – Just Me And You
from First Among Equals: The Greatest Hits

Sometime in the mid-’90s, I received a copy of a two-CD collection of The Equals as a promo. At the time, I had never heard the band’s lone US hit from the late ’60s, Baby Come Back, or even knew that it was their song Police On My Back that The Clash had covered a decade or so later on their epic Sandinista!

However, I had heard Casey Kasem mention repeatedly during the summer of ’83 that Eddy Grant, who was rockin’ down to Electric Avenue, had originally been in The Equals. It’s Grant who wrote and sings lead on the soulful, mid-tempo Just Me And You.

Stevie Wonder – Higher Ground
from Stevie Wonder’s Original Musiquarium I

And up pops one of those “tracks” which is actually a full album side – in this case, side three of the great Stevie Wonder’s 1982 two-album compilation Stevie Wonder’s Original Musiquarium I. In addition to the leadoff song – the shimmying funk of Higher Ground – that side also featured Sir Duke, Master Blaster (Jammin’), Boogie On Reggae Woman, and That Girl.

That single side alone would have made for an impressive career for most artists.

David Gray – Please Forgive Me
from White Ladder

Channel-surfing late one night, I stumbled across a video that immediately stopped me in my tracks. The frenetic images of a bustling city street matched the hyperactive twitch of the arresting melody. Above the cityscape a non-descript fellow sat playing a piano that seemingly hovered in mid-air.

At the end of the video, the tag identified the artist as David Gray. The name seemed familiar and, as I searched the memory banks, I realized that I had actually seen Gray, opening for Shawn Colvin a good six years earlier. I even owned an early album of his that I had filed and forgotten.

In 1999, a lot of people owned a copy of White Ladder (and rightfully so).