13 May The Soundtrack of a Lifetime
Recently, I upgraded my phone and for the first time, I have enough storage space to hold my entire music collection. Until now, I had always curated which artists and albums were saved, and thus available to me, when driving or out and about. Because of this, there’s been parts of my collection that I rightly haven’t listened to in years.
I am essentially an album listener, meaning I pick an artist and an album and listen to it from beginning to end. I get that this is unusual in this day and age of playlists and spotify, but it’s how I’ve always been. Radio, and satellite radio inclusively, have never appealed to me for that reason. Too random, and only concentrated on the most popular or familiar of tracks, and a bane to all the conceptual albums I love.
My car audio system is built for the modern listener however, and much to my annoyance, if I leave it set to automatically connect to my phone via Bluetooth, it defaults to start playing random tracks as soon as it connects, unless I have previously started to listen to something, say an audio-book, and have left the app open on my phone, in which case it picks up where I left off.
This morning though, now armed with the full arsenal of my library at my disposal, I allowed the car to do it’s thing and just randomly pull tracks.
It started with a healthy one two punch of 1970’s rock, then escalated to a 1980’s hair-metal track, before going off the rails. I got opera, 80’s new wave, classical, and a techno film score, all weaved in between modern metal. It was a strange mix generated by the algorithm, and I wanted to imagine a connecting thread piecing it all together.
It wasn’t until I got to work that I realized that the connective thread was me. All of these songs were added to the collection by my hand, and it was a reminder of where I’ve been and who I am.
Maybe that’s the appeal of playlists, pulling out memories, creating the connective thread of good times and fun memories, or times when you’ve had your heart broken, or other other life moments. They remind you of who you are.
Of course, I could be wrong and maybe most people just want a bunch of similar sounding songs to shake their ass to. Who knows?
I don’t foresee changing my listening habits based on this one experiment, but I’ll probably let my car pick the tunes every now and again just to see where it takes us.