Music on my iPhone

It seems like I have always made lists of bands that I am listening to. Somewhere, in one of the boxes in my garage, I have pee-chees covered with handwritten lists of all of the bands I was so fond of in the 1980s.

I suppose I stopped making those lists efficiently when I stopped using pee-chees. Normal office supplies, especially in law offices, lack that special feel that pee-chees have for compulsive list-making.

Anyway, in January I bought an iPhone, which has full iPod functionality. I am a girl who has worn through many a Walkman, wearing out the motors until they could not play. A digital music player with no music parts is IDEAL for me, even though I long ago decided that I like to hear the world around me more than I like to blot it out. As much as I love music, I am also a city girl who is highly aware of my surroundings. My long commute by train and bus leaves me with abundant music-blasting time, however, and so I have returned to my old ways.

Having an iPhone with an iPod built in has raised some questions about what music I should listen to. It is a new device: should I listen only to new music? Or at least music that is new to me? My life has a soundtrack: what should be on that soundtrack now?

I have a large record and CD collection (and had a large audio cassette collection until I moved into my current home) which I am very fond of. But so many of those songs all have other times and places attached to them. That album goes with my first concert, and the middle school friends who tagged along with me. That one was playing when I first spent time alone with my first serious boyfriend in his apartment. This was my favorite local band's "break through" album that made me see them over and over at Wolfgang's. This one showed me that some of my friends would never 'get' Morrissey. That one I listened to in my dorm room and in the drafting labs as I pulled all-night drawing sessions with my classmates on the Cal Poly campus in SLO. This one I shared during all-night drawing sessions in Oakland. This one was my favorite when I got on the flight to Nepal, and my first long trip alone. There are the CDs Steven would play in the car early in our relationship, when every weekend seemed to hold another completely epic adventure in unseasonably gorgeous weather somewhere along California's rocky coast...

My life is different now. (It always is, really.)

This is the current soundtrack to my life. I planned to post this list by year the albums were released, but that's not how I listen to the songs. I go by album most of the time when choosing what to listen to: I'll do that here. I'm noting the year the album was released, but I'm realizing that my source data from iTunes is only talking about the digital release, so it claims that Grant Green's albums from the 1960s were released in the late 1990s, which obviously isn't true. So don't be surprised if I revise these as I double-check them.

The Albums

Big Calm, by Morcheeba. 1998. I listened to this quite a bit when I was single: this was the era that marked my increasing dedication to downtempo electronica. I love Skye's voice, and I like this album, though I haven't listened it much since I recently added it to my playlist.

Bossanova by The Pixies. 1990. I love this less than the Pixie's other albums.

Boy Wonder by The Definite Articles. 2008. This is the first professional EP by colleague Shawn Alpay's band, and it is a clean, tight, frustratingly catchy recording. I listen to Information with greater frequency than I am willing to admit, but Sea Things and Sans Francisco also creep into my subconscious while I wake up. Shawn should be extremely proud of this recording.

Bricolage by Amon Tobin. 1997. This has Easy Muffin on it, which is so very easy to listen to more or less forever.

Collected (2-disc and one DVD compilation) by Massive Attack. 1991 - 1996. Mezzanine, which is a remarkable album, somehow escaped from its CD case, and I finally caved in and bought this, which features several songs from that remarkable recording. This is addictive. Risingson is likely the single most played song for me. I also love Protection, and there are some good songs on the second disc.

The Cosmic Game by Thievery Corporation. 2005. Somehow, I thought this was newer. This is more ethereal than The Mirror Conspiracy. Good, but very airy.

Deep by Peter Murphy. 1989. This is one of Steven's CDs, and I haven't listened all the way through, but I know and like several of these songs.

Disintegration by The Cure. 1989. Wasn't this supposed to be their last album before they broke up forever? Does anyone else remember when they promised that? I do. I remember discussing with with my German pen friend of the time. This is a stellar album. Most played: Lullaby, Fascination Street.

DJ Kicks: Thievery Corporation (compilation). 1999. This is actually quite good. Varied, pleasant...

Doolittle by The Pixies. 1989. This is my favorite Pixies album: these songs are permanently tattooed into my mind.

The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails. 1994. So pleasantly industrial.

Either/Or by Elliott Smith. 1997. Between the Bars haunts me. This is a fabulous album. Subdued and intense.

Figure 8 by Elliott Smith. 2000. I saw Elliott on tour when he was promoting this album: his show at the Fillmore was stunningly tight. The sound was perfect, the band was pin-sharp... it was one of those 'I'll never forget this night' sort of experiences. And the songs are so grand! The production is so very full-studio, the sounds are so big, clean, and complex... But XO is still my favorite album. To even my surprise.

The Fragile by Nine Inch Nails. 1999. This actually has much to recommend it. I mostly listen to the Left CD.

From a Basement On The Hill by Elliott Smith. 2004. Am unfinished work, left incomplete by Elliott's untimely death. It has a coherence that tells you it's close to something he would do, which is lacking in New Moon.

Front By Front by Front 242. 1992. Einatmen, ausatmen, einatmen, ausatmen! Headhunter is THE cyberpunk song to me. Maybe you had to be there, but it's perfect.

Grant's First Stand by Grant Green. 1961.

Grantstand by Grant Green. 1961. Blues in Maude's Flat is classic.

The Green Armchair by Agoria. 2006. I only have one song from this album, which is Edenbridge featuring Peter Murphy. It's an oddly compelling, very long song with a sort of... incantation quality over the heavy bass line.

The Hot Rock by Sleater-Kinney. 1999. Oh, yes.

I Like To Score by Moby. 1997. Moby is brilliant, and this album is pure fun.

Ink by The Dining Rooms. 2007.

Last Night by Moby. 2008. Ohmygawd, I cannot stop listening to this. Ooh Yeah is actually on my play list EVERY MORNING. And Alice is addictively intense.

Light & Magic by Ladytron. 2002.

Love Hysteria by Peter Murphy. 1988. I listened to this CONSTANTLY when I was away at school, at Cal Poly, in my dorm room. I CAN feel the light, the air is wide open...

The Mirror Conspiracy by Thievery Corporation. 2000. This makes even more sense if you listen while on log train rides: the rhythms are so steady... This is classic. Excellent vocalists, too.

New Moon (2 disc compilation) by Elliott Smith. 2007. Elliott's demos and b-sides. This lacks the coherence of his other records, because it is a compilation of things that didn't make it into albums. It's definitely HIM, but... Some of these were performed by Heatmiser, his band before his solo career.

A Night In Tunisia by Art Blakey. 1960.

One Beat by Sleater-Kinney. 2002. This rocks. Sympathy made my hair stand on end when I saw them live, and may be one of my favorite songs by them.

Portishead by Portishead. 1997. This album is so remarkably intense, it defies description. If your life was a film noir drama, this would be a suitable soundtrack. When I am in a mood to listen to this more than once in a day, you should either avoid me or engage in some passionate, lifelong, traumatic bonding with me.

The Prime Source: That Night At Birdland, A Night at the Cafe Bohemia, Deciphering The Message, Nica's Dream (4-disc compilation) of Art Blakey's work. Various years. This is a good overview.

Quaristice by Autechre. 2008. So far, this sounds like what my microwave and computer would do if left to their own devices for a few weeks. I don't think I like it.

Grant Green: Retrospective 1961-1966 (4 disc compilation). Grant Green is my favorite jazz musician: this merely solidifies his hold on me.

Satta by Boozoo Bajou. 2001. This is electronica that iTunes believes is Jazz. It is lovely, downtempo, moody. If I were single, I would play this in the background of seductive dinners.

Something's Missing by Xeff Scolari and Steven Pitsenbarger. 2006. Steven and his close friend Xeff wrote this album as the soundtrack to a very creepy play that was peformed in SoCal and Scotland, based generally on the true story of a boy who was abducted by a child molester, lived with him for many years after his abduction (under the misunderstanding that his parents were dead and there was no one else to care for him), and eventually escaped to save another boy his new "father" had abducted. It is creepy. Compelling, but creepy. I have seen one staging of the play that didn't use the entire soundtrack; the play has since been restaged to include most of this. But it is creepy.

Sonic Temple by The Cult. 1989. This album does not fit with the other albums here. Perhaps I should replace it with Love. Hmmm.

Straight No Chaser (compilation), Blue Note Records. Various years. These are the most-sampled songs in the Blue Note archives. They are all brilliant.

Surfer Rosa by The Pixies. 1988. I tend not to listen to this all the way through. Most listened toL Where Is My Mind?, Cactus. The latter was brilliantly covered by David Bowie.

Third by Portishead. 2008. I am completely engrossed in this. Brilliant, cold, harsh, strange...

Tre by The Dining Rooms. 2003. Perhaps my favorite digitally purchased album. A mix of jazz and downtempo electronica.

Trompe Le Monde by The Pixies. 1991. Most listened to: Planet of Sound, Little Eiffel, Head On.

Velocifero by Ladytron. 2008. Brand new. Addictive. Fun.

Witching Hour (Bonus Version) by Ladytron. 2007. Perhaps even more addictive than their latest release. Weekend, Destroy Everything You Touch are faves.

XO by Elliott Smith. 1998. My favorite work of his.

Year Zero by Nine Inch Nails. 2007. The jury is out.

18 by Moby. 2002. Fun. And this reminds me that I haven't loaded Play yet. How is that possible?

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posted june 12, 2008

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