Tag Archives: iPod

Silly songs

While we’re on the subject of song lyrics, may I share something else?

I’ve told you before that all twenty-something of my iPod playlists are themed. Surprised? Each one is fashioned around an era, a genre, a mood or a bit of subject matter, sometimes a bit subtle but always cohesive.

Recently I went a little wild and created a playlist willy-nilly. No theme; I just named it Background Music. I made it for a little get-together, to which most invitees didn’t show, so it’ll be safe to bring out again.

Meanwhile, I put it on two CDs, in my own version of Shuffle (songs organized in alphabetical order, pretty crazy, eh?). While listening to these, I discovered that a theme has nonetheless emerged—laugh-out-loud lyrics.

For example:

“They say that absence makes the heart grow fungus.”

“I don’t remember you looking any better, but then again I don’t remember you.”

“My dog’s not in your dumpster.”

“Mama’s been cryin’ in the kitchen since morning; she cried right through As The World Turns.”

“Trying my best to set the highway on fire, but my bicycle won’t go no faster.”

“You think you’re so smart but I’ve seen you naked.”

“I dug up this old photograph; look at all that hair we had.”

“When it rains, I pour.”

Have you any of your own that might have zipped by us without notice? Do share.

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Filed under Music

Lame that tune

I’m back from the beach, where my husband and I enjoyed a few days with some long-time friends. We came home with sand in our shoes, color on our cheeks, some soft ice cream stains and a terrific new game.

Our friends made up this game, which was great fun. I encourage you to play it, but one of the creators is a prominent intellectual property lawyer, so you’d best not steal the idea.

The homespun dinner table game offers the best in musical entertainment, laughter and profound humiliation.

Each person staying in the house was asked to bring his or her MP3 player to the table and hand it over to the leader. We had 10 players. One by one, each person’s song list was set on Shuffle and three songs were played—at random; for the benefit of the Podless, that’s what “shuffle” means.

I believe, anthropologically speaking, that our iPods are telling relics, revealing much about our true selves. And admit it, don’t we all have one or two songs in our libraries that we’d rather not have anyone discover?

Well, that’s the point of the game, and somehow the Shuffle function can bore right through to that one song that reveals to your loved ones—and the fellow dinner guests you’ve just met—your inner pathetic dweeb.

So here’s how it works. The first player, who happened to be I the other night, surrenders her iPod to the leader, who pops it into the speaker system. When a song comes on, the rest of the group gives it a thumbs up, thumbs down or some sort of gesture that in essence means, make it stop—now. It’s a little like Pandora Radio. We all decided that the make-it-stop option should be limited to three per voter, as some people are natural-born critics.

My first song was a little lame. It was Chris Isaak’s version of Neil Diamond’s “Solitary Man.” As uncoolness goes, I’d hoped Chris Isaak and Neil Diamond would cancel each other out. Turns out, in a group where half the members were over 50 and the other half under 27, I wasn’t so lucky. Thumbs down. Shuffle stopped at my second song, Heart’s “Crazy on You,” which nearly everyone agreed is one of the best songs ever. Saved. Number three killed me. It was Ray Stevens’ “The Streak.”*  ‘Nuf said. (Don’t look, Ethel!)

A few other players were almost as exposed and embarrassed. The hostess blushed as her device found “I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The group agreed that my husband took the prize with Claudine Longet’s “Lazy Summer Night.” Who remembers Claudine Longet? The elder half of our group remembered Ms. Longet–her having been married to Andy Williams and having been convicted of fatally shooting her Olympic skier boyfriend and having been with the family at Robert Kennedy’s assassination and funeral.

The younger half of the table was busy banging out a drum chorus of “Make it stop.”

Try the game at your next dinner party and let me know how it goes.

*In the meantime, who’s old enough remember “The Streak?” Who’d like to hear a real life story about 1973’s fleeting pastime?


Filed under Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas, Movies, Television and Radio, Music, Sports and Recreation, Travel

Sing me a story

Attention MP3 users: Do you have a unique, themed playlist in your music library that you think is really nifty?

Recently a friend and I were comparing notes on how we collect and organize music. In so doing, we discovered a shared fondness for songs that tell stories.

Some might call these ballads but the pop music scene of decades ago really expanded the definition. I was a product of the 1960s and 1970s and, as such, I am only slightly ashamed to lay claim to some of the corniest and most obnoxious “music,” as well as time-honored and clever classics, as the soundtrack of my formative years.

My iPod library houses more than 50 themed playlists, but one I especially enjoy is called, simply, “Stories.” As someone who enjoys words put together artfully, along with good narration, my love of stories should come as no surprise.

“Stories” begins with one of the most famous, “Alice’s Restaurant.” I know people who listen to it once a year as part of their Thanksgiving traditions. Personally, I need it more often. If you’re having a rough day and have 18 minutes and 37 seconds to spare, perhaps on your commute home, give it a listen. It’ll take you way back and give you a chuckle at the same time. And I suspect you have at least parts of it memorized.

Here are a few others, old and new, and at least one added at my friend’s suggestion. I am betting there are some you haven’t thought about in 30 or 40 years, or maybe haven’t heard altogether.

“A Boy Named Sue,” Johnny Cash

“Big John,” Jimmy Dean

“Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road,” Loudoun Wainwright III

“Henry,” New Riders of the Purple Sage

“Junk Food Junkie,” Larry Groce

“King Tut,” Steve Martin

“Sic ‘Em on a Chicken,” Zac Brown

“Smoke! Smoke! Smoke!,” Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen

“The Streak,” Ray Stevens

“Uneasy Rider,” The Charlie Daniels Band (one of my favorites)

“When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” Jerry Reed

“30,000 Pounds of Bananas,” Harry Chapin

I am still building the playlist.  Have any suggestions?


Filed under Music

Sounds of summer

Ahh, the first weekend of unofficial summer.  Imagine this as you sit at your desk today.  You are heading out to your deck or patio for some serious hang time.  Your entrée is marinating, you’ve just lit the grill, your beverages have achieved optimum iciness.  Your favorite friends are on their way over.  You position your outdoor speakers, even if just a boom box pointed out the window. You press Play.

What music wafts across your backyard?  In other words, what comprises the soundtrack to your summer?

I have many different playlists on my iPod and I typically choose according to the crowd.  But if I were stranded on a desert island, with my grilled meat and frozen beverage, of course, and had to choose only, how many shall we say, five songs to groove to, what would they be?

I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

  1. Weezer, “Island in the Sun”
  2. Michael Franti, “Say Hey (I Love You)”
  3. Los Lonely Boys, “Heaven” or maybe “Hollywood”
  4. Plain White T’s, “That Girl”
  5. Jonathan Edwards, “Shanty”

If I could have more, I might download a few from a list I found online, Essential Songs for Your Tropical Vacation, but many of those are in my collection already. 

Just for the record, Margaritaville is not one of them.


Filed under Family and Friends, Music

iOld and iTired

The older I get, the more my thoughts begin with “back in my day . . .”

In this season of weddings and graduations, I think back on how little technology was available when I went through both. 

I made it through college using a typewriter, a percolator and a hot plate.  That’s it.  My husband and I planned our wedding using a three-ring binder, two packs of index cards and some Post-its.

This week, I have backed up my computer files, synced my calendar to my phone, taken and downloaded photos, updated my music collection for a car trip, and set up my new GPS system.

Tending to these tasks involved six different devices. 

It struck me yesterday–as I looked down at the tangled heap of cases, chargers, adapters and USB cables going every which way into the two computers that hum simultaneously, side by side, on my desk–that I too would need a recharge.

iTunes is running on the Dell, syncing the music with my iPod.  The HP laptop is putting my calendar on my iPhone.  The Nikon is plugged in, also to the Dell, and uploading photos to Shutterfly.  Directions from Mapquest are shooting out of both printers, just until I am weaned on to the Garmin.

Meanwhile, the Garmin is undergoing online product registration, but calls for a USB connection to complete the registration.  I see that no USB cable came with the Garmin.  While waiting on hold with Garmin’s customer service line, I type my dilemma in to a Search box.  It tells me the product comes with no USB cable; I need to buy one from their online store or use a cable from another appliance.  I try each and every cable before me, one by one, searching for compatibility.  Eureka, the cable from the WD external hard drive fits!  It’s always the last one you try.

What I wouldn’t give for my Polaroid Swinger.  The only cord it had attached it to my wrist.


Filed under Foibles and Faux Pas, Music, Technology and Social Media, Travel

Record time

Road trips always get me thinking about music.  So I hope you will indulge me in another reflection brought on by time spent in the car with Rosebud, my trusty iPod. 

To put this one in proper perspective, I go back to the Spring of 1969.  I was in the third grade.  My father came home from a Washington, D.C., record store with two albums that changed my life.  Well, at least made a deep impression.

The first was Bill Cosby’s comedy album, To Russell, My Brother Whom I Slept With, and maybe one day we will get back to that.  I still have the whole thing memorized.

The other album was extraordinary for so many reasons.  First, it was the first double album I had ever seen.  Two whole records in one cover that split into two parts.  Pretty amazing.  Second, the cover was entirely white, including the title, The Beatles, in raised white lettering.  I had never seen anything so radical in my lifetime of nine years, especially in the 1960s when everything was shocking pink and lime green.  Finally, the album came with four 8×10 glossy head shots of the long-haired musicians.  When I discovered these, I swiped them and tacked them up on the brand new yellow and green daisy wallpaper in my room.

At age 9, my friends were listening to The Archies.  I don’t know what their parents listened to, likely Pat Boone or maybe the New Seekers, but I can guarantee no one’s parents listened to The Beatles’ so-called White Album, released in late 1968.  Mine did.  We all loved it.  Maybe it was the snappy piano intro of “Martha My Dear,” the show-tuney sound of “Honey Pie,” maybe the animal noises sprinkled into “Blackbird” and “Piggies.”  Or the simple melody and chord changes of “Mother Nature’s Son.”

The first song I memorized was “Rocky Raccoon.”  What a great story.  It was the first time I had ever heard of Gideon’s Bible.

At 9, I understood very little about what was going on in the world and didn’t understand intellectually what most of the lyrics meant.  Still, the music made me aware on some level.  As it does now, the song “Julia” tore my heart out, even though I had no concept of the nature or depth of the romantic angst the song captures.

When I listen to the White Album, as I did on a recent long car ride, the images of the 1960s flash before me.  The music and lyrics are relatively simple, but they evoke vivid memories.  Volkswagen Beetles, avant-garde displays in Georgetown storefront windows, the psychedelic pattern of my diary cover.  Men with long hair.  Incense.  Laugh-In, which I only saw in black in white until we got our first color television in 1970. 

There really is no point to this.  Except maybe to suggest you pull out your copy, pop it in (or on) and see where it takes you.


Filed under Family and Friends, Music

Boogie on down the road

We’ve taken a lot of road trips lately, Rosebud and I.  I’ve never been one to name an inanimate object such as a car or anything else, but iTunes makes you give your iPod a name when you register it.  Anyway, mine’s Rosebud; I’ll just trust everyone knows the origin.

In the car I have been listening to Rosebud’s entire song list, more than 1,000 songs in all, in alphabetical order.  No play lists, genre affinities or artist groupings.  I am enjoying the way in which the random play renders no noticeable theme or pattern, except that multiple songs begin with the same word. 

Yesterday, songs beginning with “Boogie” carried me a good long way down the New Jersey Turnpike.  Which got me thinking.  Now that I have overanalyzed my magazine rack, and enjoyed the comments on yesterday’s post, I will turn to search for meaning in my MP3.

Does the fact that 61 songs on my iPod begin with “I” or “my” but only 31 begin with “you” or “your” make me an egoist?  Does the fact that I have as much Mormon Tabernacle Choir as I do heavy metal make me schizophrenic?

What other words dominate my song titles?  Setting aside “how,” “what,” “when,” “where,” subordinating conjunctions and other minor words, I watched for a theme to emerge.   “Love” popped most prominently but that’s no surprise.  Except on the devices of a few evil souls, Love dominates everyone’s iPod.  So let’s take Love out of the equation, just for balance.

What’s left in my top five?  “Boogie” to be sure, along with “dance,” “rock,” “crazy” and “bad.”

In the absence of any logical conclusion, I leave it to Avril Lavigne, who sums it up aptly in “Anything but Ordinary,” as she observes, “Sometimes I get so weird, I even freak myself out.”

Note:  After another brief look at song lyrics tomorrow, Word Nymph will turn to another topic.  At least until she is On the Road Again.

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Music, Travel