In the future, we will each only listen to one song.
I didn’t think I listen to a lot of music. I used to. I used to live for music. As a teenager, I’d lock myself in my room with only the company of Rick Dees and Ron Jordan on WMPS in Memphis and the only rock and roll on the air in my boondockie hills on the edge of the Mississippi delta.
They inspired me to be a disc jockey. I would lock myself in my room, listening to old 45s on a portable record player. Working on the details of each song, looking for the qualities that made it work — that made me want to listen to it. That made me want to be a part of music — me, this tone deaf guy who couldn’t play a piano, a guitar, even a radio.
But I figured out how to work in a radio station. Playing music when “digital” was a series of red LEDs in an expensive wristwatch.
The problem was that working in radio was like working in a sausage factory. When I saw how the sausage was made, I wouldn’t eat it. So I got real picky real quick about music.
As time went by, I quit listening to music. I couldn’t hear the soul or emotion. Only the soulless tastes of focus groups armed with yes-no knobs in darkened theaters listening to the first four seconds of a tune to see if they’d stay tuned to a station playing the whole song.
Then came CDs, with clearer sound than the slickest FM station. Then came the ability to burn your own CDs. Soon I had a collection of CDs with only my favorite songs, pages and pages of CDs in my car. It was like carrying a law book out every morning to make my commute. But it was a collection of only those songs I liked — 15 to a disc.
That was great.
But soon I found myself hitting the “skip” button past songs I liked to songs I loved. Even though there were 15 songs to a disc, I found myself playing only one or two over and over.
Then I bought an iPod.
It’s a small one. Just one gig. A “Shuffle.” It holds 240 songs. Still, that’s more than half the play list of the major market radio station that burned me out on music in the 1980s. Yep. That station had only a little more than 400 songs — plus the week’s Top 20 — on its play list. A couple of days and you heard “The Boxer” again.
But I can change my frickin’ play list every day.
So I loaded the iPod with only my favorite songs.
That was great.
For two days.
Then I started hitting the “skip” button when the song wasn’t five stars.
I have only about 500 songs I really like on my computer. I’ll figure out how to rig my computer and iPod so that I can refine my play list.
But I’ll still find songs to skip.
Eventually, I’ll be down to one song.
I won’t need an iPod. I won’t need a CD. I’ll be back where I began: In my room, with a single 45, playing it over and over.
And that’s not so bad.