Tag Archives: iPod

Listening to What Elliot Scheiner Thinks Is Worthwhile (circa 2008)

Several years ago I had the opportunity and honor to meet and spend some time talking with Elliot Scheiner, a producer and engineer who has been behind the board for an array of musicians, most of whom are acutely aware of the importance of the sounds that we hear when we listen to their recorded music. A recording engineer is the person to takes all of the tracks that have been recorded during a session (realize that there are as many as 96 channels on a sound board, and multiple recordings of each instrument and vocal) and orchestrates them—perhaps a slice here, a bit there—into something that we think is a done-in-one work. It is the ear of someone like Scheiner that creates a seamless tapestry.

I had in a box a third generation iPod nano circa 2008 that contains music that Scheiner had selected. I’d forgotten about it. Needless to say, when I excavated it, there was no power and it seems that the battery is no longer able to hold a charge.

But I pulled out a connector and plugged it in.

And listened. . . .

“Take Me to the River,” Al Green. No, not Talking Heads. It was written by Al Green and Mabon Lewis Hodges. Hear Al’s scream between verses and you’ll not listen to Byrne again. “The sixteen candles burning on my wall/Turning me into the biggest fool of them all.”

“Eight Days a Week,” The Beatles. Shocking to realize that it was released in 1965. Actually, it was ’64 in the UK, but the world wasn’t small then, so it was a few months later. Eight days, but the band’s seventh #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100. The the phrase allegedly came from a chauffeur, describing how much he was working. Work. Not Love.

“Like a Star,” Corinne Bailey Rae. It isn’t a good thing when you do a Google search and the “People also ask” box has as its first question “What happened to Corinne Bailey Rae?” Good question. Probably more well known for her “Put Your Record On,” this song is subtle-yet-intricate. And leads you to wonder “What happened to Corinne Bailey Rae?”

“Fly Me to the Moon,” Diana Krall. It takes a lot of guts to do a cover of a song associated with Frank Sinatra and Count Basie. Yet Krall has vocally and musically more than the stuff to stand up to it. What’s interesting is that her voice isn’t sweet but strong. And it works.

“The Great Pagoda of Funn,” Donald Fagen. Steely Dan released Aja in the fall of ’77. Fagen released Morph the Cat, the album that includes this cut, in March 2006. I defy you to listen to this song and not hear Aja. With the current non-existence of Walter Becker, Fagen could tour doing this album and fully satisfy Dan fans. Or maybe he could call it “Steely Dann.”

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Some People Still Listen to Radio

Who knew? According to the New York Times, people are listening to a lot less radio than they were ten years ago. It surprises me that they’re still listening at all. But apparently, radio has slipped a lot more when it comes to college graduates:

Over the last decade, college graduates ages 25-54, who make up an increasingly large portion of the population, have abandoned radio eight times faster than nongraduates. Today, they listen to 15 hours and 45 minutes of radio a week, while their peers without degrees listen to 21 hours and 15 minutes weekly.

A pointless graphic in the piece points out that weekly radio listening has decreased 240 minutes among folks with a degree while it’s only decreased 30 minutes among non-graduates. The article blames the discrepency on the types of jobs people do, but I wonder how much it has do with iPods…

How many hours of radio do you listen to per week? I’d estimate that I listen to approximately one hour of commercial radio per week. If you include NPR, it probably jumps to 10-12 hours per week. I listen to my iPod approximately 25-30 hours per week.

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Revenge of the Mix Tape

Smack My Mix UpEver since I first peeled back the plastic wrap from a cheap store brand cassette and dropped it into the small personal tape recorder I got for Christmas in 5th grade, I’ve been fascinated with the art of the mix. Back then my main piece of gear was an Emerson single-speaker recorder with thick buttons that required my tiny fingers to depress PLAY and RECORD together to engage the recording head.

My first mixes (which I still have somewhere) were mainly comprised of songs taped from WGRD, the Top 40 station in Grand Rapids, or the new and exciting music channel that had just launched, MTV. The pacing of those early tapes is jacked and the songs are often clipped or include the tail of a DJ’s talk-over. I just couldn’t get those chunky buttons to come down precisely together. Then I discovered the mechanical genius of the PAUSE button and my world changed. It was my first understanding of technology as a means to create something.

The years went by and I graduated from that Emerson to a “Ghetto Blaster” in junior high to a Fisher rack system with dual cassette in high school. The receiver and speakers were actually decent and loud as hell (much to my mother’s chagrin), but the tape deck was worthless. I soon gained a reputation among my friends as producing the lowest fidelity mixes in town. As my musical interest turned to garage rock in college, I was able to pass off mixes made on my shitty deck as purposely lo-fi. I had to make due with the technology I had.

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Bad Apple – An Open Letter

RottenWhat do you do when you plunk down several hundred dollars on media players that shit out on you within 18 months? The only thing we, the people, can do in Corporate Amerika: Complain.

Apple

1 Infinite Loop

Cupertino, CA 95014

May 29, 2006

To whom it may concern (and that should be anyone who works at Apple),

I know most consumer protection agencies recommend a calm, non-threatening tone be taken when filing business complaints in writing, but it’s awfully difficult to maintain a cool composure when you’re staring at $800 worth of electronic equipment that’s up and crapped out short of 18 months from the purchase date. But I’ll try to be the bigger man.

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