Month: December 2009

The Voices Guided Me Towards Doing It

I’m a fan of the now defunct band, Guided By Voices. I have all of their legitimate releases as well as a concert or two that I found online. While I used to listen to the band at least a little bit every day, I haven’t listened to them much at all in the last year or so. I’ll blame that on The Decemberists. Anyway, I came up with this brilliant idea a few weeks ago. The plan is to put my iPod on shuffle and listen to my entire catalog of Guided By Voices music until I’m all the way through it.

After a few days I was feeling pretty good about my progress, despite not having too many opportunities to listen to my iPod. I looked down at my iPod and it said I had listened to 78 GBV songs. That made me feel even better about my progress. I know that Bob Pollard, the lead and brain-child of GBV, is a very prolific songwriter, but 78 songs is still several albums worth of material. I had to have put a sizeable dent in the catalog, right? After the split-second that it took for all of this to flash in my mind, I read the rest of the line and realized just how many GBV songs I have.

684. Yes, there are 684 Guided By Voices songs on my iPod. There are some duplicates, but that’s probably only about 100 of those songs, and I still “have” to listen to them in order to actually listen to my entire catalog. Doing the math, that leaves almost 600 original GBV songs. Bob Pollard certainly IS prolific. But I really should have known this prior to starting this endeavor, as I have both “Suitcase 1” and “Suitcase 2”, two box sets that Bob released that each include 100 previously unreleased songs. So, that’s 200 original songs that weren’t even officially released until the box sets. The amount (and quality) of his output is amazing.

At this moment I’m on song 390. I’m making progress through the catalog, but it’s slow going. I can’t listen to anything else with my iPod because then I’ll lose my place in the shuffle and I’d have to start over. This kind of stinks, as I could really stand to listen to some Lady GaGa or The Decemberists right about now. I’ve taken to filling my non-GBV wants by listening to on my Xbox 360 when at home or to the actual radio when I’m in the car. Unfortunately, these are times that I normally would be listening to my iPod, which means these are times when I could be putting a dent in my sizeable GBV task.

It’s a good thing I like GBV.

Alicia Keys – Stephen Colbert – New York


Digital Ads Killed the Radio Star

It seems like more and more things have gone high-def or digital in the last few years.  One of my favorites has been digital radios in cars.  If you are listening to a digital radio station with a digital radio, you get some bonus information sent to you.  Most of the time it’s the name of the song, the artist/band, and possibly the name of the radio station.  I don’t listen to the radio too often, so I find this feature especially nice.  When something comes on that I have never heard before, the radio can tell me exactly what I’m listening to right away.  I’m not dependent on the DJ feeding that information to me.

Both of my cars have digital radios that offer this feature.  On my Prius, I have to push a few buttons to find out what song is currently being played.  On the other hand, my Torrent constantly displays the information sent down with the digital signal, so I only have to glance in the direction of the radio to learn the name of my new favorite song (well, it will be my favorite for at least the next 5 minutes).  It is really quite convenient.

As great as this technology is, someone has found a way to abuse it (in my opinion) and make money off of it.  There is a digital radio station in my hometown of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, that does not send the name of the song and artist to digital radios.  It doesn’t even send the call letters of the radio station.  The only information they send is advertisements for local businesses.  This is particularly bad in the Torrent, as it turns the radio into a mini-billboard in the center of my dashboard.  I look over to learn the name of a song or adjust the volume for a Lady GaGa single, and instead I learn about a deal on fried chicken at Ma & Pa’s Grocery.

I don’t have a problem with radio stations showing advertisements on digital radio screens when they are on a commercial break and advertisements are playing, anyway.  However, I’m not a fan of them hijacking my dashboard and sending nothing but advertisements to it all the time.  That behavior crosses a line for me.  At least I can always get away from the ads by choosing another station or even turning off my radio entirely.  Their plan has now backfired.  Instead of having another listener who gets some extra advertising, they have a former listener who will not receive any of their ads while paying too much for fried chicken.