Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The local jukebox

I like computers. A lot. Think of the many tools I use on the machine these words have been written on. My main email connection to the rest of the world. A word processor I've written at least 60% of my freelance articles on. A specialist word processor through which I produced half a dozen screenplays (but never managed to sell a single one, ha ha). Fully loaded Skype should I need to call someone in Tucson (I won't, but it's nice to know I have the option). Various flavors of video players for the TV shows I...eh...borrow from the Internet.

I have to say, though, that the most consistent use I get from the thing must be as a jukebox. Computers make the best music machines. Think of it - even a limited-space hard drive these days gives you 40 gigs. That's something like, ah I dunno, 5,000 songs. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm nowhere near that. At the moment, I'm at something like - let me check...

...shee-it, nearly 1,200 songs. There's Bad Religion and Buzzcocks and (but why?) Pat frickin' Boone, early Led Zeppelin, late Nirvana, Neil Young from all eras. The complete Police, including predecessor Strontium 90 (worth checking out). There are a few unknown classics ("Homosapien," Pete Shelley. "That's Too Bad," Gary Numan - now playing as I write this. "Don't Talk to Me," G.G. Allin before the mental illness set in). There are survivors like Pop, Iggy and Deep Purple. One or two of the recently deceased - hello, or, uh, goodbye, Desmond Dekker. A couple of long-dead favorites long moldering in their coffins: Presley, Elvis, Thunders, Johnny/Heartbreakers for example. Many obscurities. Songs that fall under the "guilty pleasure" category that I'd NEVER admit to listening to. Okay, maybe I would - "Kids in America," Kim Wilde, "Hungry Like the Wolf," Duran Duran, far too much Donovan and...ah, that's enough for now. Music that I actually helped make. Stuff I was never able to play and probably won't figure out anytime soon ("Wrathchild", Iron Maiden, "Come on Baby, Let's Go Downtown," Neil Young and Crazy Horse). There's a traditional American folk song in there somewhere ("A Man of Constant Sorrow"), a Baroque German classical piece (Pachelbel's Canon) and naturally, a Finnish string quartet covering a Metallica song. I even spent the time and effort to compile a folder named "The Best of Hey Joe" which contains 33 - yes, 33, that's not a typo - versions of the title song (the best: Willy DeVille's bizarre mutant combination of HJ and Cuban standby "Guantanamera").

Where am I going with that gun in my hand? Ha. The problem with any music collection, of course, is that no matter how big it is, the owner always gets bored with listening to the same stuff. I usually find myself hunting for some song, any song, I haven't listened to at least forty times since I planted it on the hard drive. Theoretically, since I have more songs than number of days in three or so years, that shouldn't be a challenge. But I never seem to find something fresh enough.

Luckily, if I have the time, patience and nothing more important to do, I can find something good, interesting and new by popping open the browser and hunting for a few minutes/hours. While listening, of course, to something already on the PC. Hmmm, what to play? There's Blacks Flag and Sabbath, Specials and Special AKA, The Dead Kennedys and Live, The Big Bopper and Little Richard...

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