I remember when we first discovered Pandora. An internet radio station that created itself around music you liked – one that offered you the ultimate shuffle of songs you knew and ones you would come to know soon – how novel! How perfect! I always loved the feeling of stopping a conversation with an apology – I’m sorry to interrupt you but what is this song? The only thing worse than growing up is never quite learning how?! – or sitting alone doing something that meant nothing and getting hit in the chest by an unexpectedly poignant piece of prose (Grace is a gift for the fallen, dear, you’re an angry blade and you’re brave but you’re all alone) I used to live by Pandora, breathing it in like air, filling my chest as full with it as I could, filling in the gaps and holes that would be there otherwise (a heart just can’t contain all that empty space – it breaks).
After leaving Albion I started running (ironically), and became addicted to the shuffle on my Ipod – even when I’m running I won’t listen to anything else. It does, granted, produce a bit of annoyance when you hit a patch of songs you can’t possibly run to – a movie soundtrack symphonic piece, Christmas music, and some shitty song by a motivational singer from an album you bought in the heat of the moment at a sorority convention (you are you, and that makes you beautiful!) – but shuffle redeems itself when the sun is shining bright and it gives you that fantastic song you forgot you had (hey, hey beautiful day!)
On the 40 hours out to California, my fair-skinned companion and I made some serious progress rediscovering my musical collection. It was there my self-constructed shuffle began, and we started to live and live well by the principles of randomly selected epic music. (Examples coming to mind are screaming LEONARD BERNSTEIN at the top of our lungs at a dead standstill in Wyoming and the clouds breaking to Ocean in Utah) Carried by the shuffled momentum, I’ve continued grabing arbitrary CDs, putting them in the player, skipping the ones that immediately illicit an out loud No Thank You! (Touch me, I’m going to scream if you don’t), and enjoying what comes in random perfection and perfect random (Hot damn I shoulda felt the groove like I was swimmin’ inna sea of soul!)
Some of my latest greatest favorite music moments have been hearing John Butler’s I’d do anything (I’d do anything in this world to look like you, to look like you) the second I hit the sign for the city of Los Angeles, and twice now I have begun my morning commute with Little boxes, little boxes, little boxes made of ticky-tacky! I’m enjoying too the added surprise of my lackadaisical musical categorizing habits, pleasantly and poignantly sighing when when, while exploring the city, Track 17 often turns out to be You were only waiting for this moment to arrive, or To me it’s so damned easy to see that your people are the people at home.
Needing something to listen to while writing and hoping for some semi-solicited magic, I opened my music player, setting it to shuffle and hoping for the best. Indeed it did deliver.
I’ve got a soul that I won’t sell, that’s how I sing my blues so well, and I don’t read postcards from hell.