Daily Archives: January 21, 2009

The music of my life

In addition to being a cell phone with e-mail, Internet access, and a GPS mapper, one of the great features of the iPhone is that it also has an iPod music player built in. Even better, the phone has speakers so that you don’t have to walk around oblivious to the world with earplugs in. Hint: for better sound, place the phone in a bowl when playing music.

I spent most of the past weekend scouring the house and cars for the remnants of my CD collection. Music on CDs can be easily (and legally) loaded into a personal computer and then on to the iPod. The problem is that I only found less than half of the CDs I have purchased over the years. Things disappear.

The other problem is that CDs represent just a small portion of the music I have purchased in my life. I have literally hundreds of vinyl albums which I still listen to and dozens of cassette tapes, however, transferring these to digital format is cumbersome.

I don’t want to be a music pirate and download songs illegally from the Internet, and I also don’t want to pay for songs that I already own in two or three formats, so I only have about 450 songs on my iPod so far!

That may seem like a lot, but I have very broad musical tastes, so there are large gaps in the music I would like to have on my iPod. In addition to the great rock and soul music of my youth, I have developed a great love for the earliest recorded music from before I was born. On my iPod already, I have early Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and a large selection from Bill Monroe “the Father of Blue Grass.”

If I could easily add from my vinyl collection, I would add more of all of these, plus Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Bessie Smith and the early Mississippi blues men. From the 1950’s I would also add all the great electric blues players on the Chess Records label like Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf and Junior Wells.

Over the years, I’ve also become a country music fan, at least of the outlaw variety. On my iPod already you will find Waylon and Willie, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Toby Keith. I have lots of Hank Williams on tape and vinyl (both senior and junior) but sadly none on my iPod yet. Help!

My favorite songwriters and performers from my own era are Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, John Lennon, Brian Wilson and Don Vanvliet (Captain Beefheart). I also don’t believe that the Kinks or the Band ever recorded a bad song. Some people just ooze talent.

On the R & B side of the charts, I am a huge fan of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner and many other soul stars of the Motown and Stax stables. And as a Philly boy, let’s not forget TSOP including the O’Jays, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes and the Intruders.

On the jazz side, I would load up with John Coltrane, Charlie Mingus and Ornette Coleman if I could. And let’s not forget the modern bluesmen like B.B. King and cousin Albert. I’ve got lots more favorites, some popular and many obscure. About the only genres I never really got into heavily are Classical, Heavy Metal, Grunge or Rap, although I would avoid like the plague any pop (or country) that is too saccharine.

I estimate that a really good iPod collection for me should have at least a couple thousand songs, so I have lots of work to do. If I could only find those missing CDs!