Saturday, October 3, 2009

MP3 Supermarket Sweep

I've always liked sharing songs with friends, so when my buddy Helmut came into town last week I figured I'd make up a collection of recent favorites. A year ago that would have meant a couple of CDs with 25 or so songs each. Before that it had been a Maxell CD-90 with 35 or 40. Now I figure, Helmut's an iPod sort of guy. I'll just throw some MP3s on a disk. Because September was "Beatles Month®" I figured I'd give him a bunch of Beatles covers, and because I was reading Charlie Gillett's wonderful The Sound of the City I'd put together some early birth-of-rock-n-roll R&B and rockabilly stuff. A Music to Read The Sound of the City By comp. So that'd be 177 Beatles covers – 9.2 hours per iTunes – and 221 greasy rock tunes. I figure Helmut'll be thrilled.

I show up at the party and he's got his portable hard drive with him. 79,748 songs in 3,831 folders. My 398 tunes didn't seem like such a big deal now.

So here's the plan: I can borrow the hard drive Saturday night if I can get it back to him by 5:00 pm on Sunday. Deal. I get home from the party about midnight. Now I have some existential decisions to make. Do I go to bed, go to MicroCenter on Sunday for another hard drive, and copy everything? Do I drag only the folders I'm interested in to my music hard drive, duplicating a lot that I already had? Or do I sift through this morass – did I say "morass?" I meant to say "bounty" – looking for the individual songs? I go with plan three.

It's 5:00 am and I'm up to M, Mariah Carey, so about half way through, and my critical faculties are beginning to fail me. And here's the problem: I own no Mariah Carey. In the pantheon of female vocalists I rank her below Yoko Ono in terms of my needing her in my iTunes directory. But this may be my only chance to grab a couple of Carey tunes, should I ever need one. I'd recently read Sasha Frere-Jones's great article in The New Yorker about Carey, and vaguely remembered his interesting comments about a few songs, but which ones? And this wasn't just a problem with Miss Glitter. Did I need any (or in some cases, more) AC-DC? Black Eyed Peas? Cracker? Dave Mason? Everything But The Girl? Fiona Apple? Garbage? Hall & Oats? Iron Maiden? Jack Johnson? Kraftwerk? The Lovin' Spoonfull? I went to bed.

Up at the crack of noon and I've got less than five hours to get to ZZ Top. I hadn't realized the large number of groups alphabetized under T because their name started with "The" so it got a little frantic there, close to the wire, and I grabbed an entire Whiskeytown album that I probably own, but I managed to get to the craft fair (Helmut's one of them artist-guys) by 5:00. Only grabbed 885 songs. And yes, something by each of the bands mentioned above. Allow me to make you a mix.

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