On Friday Richard and I, and a bunch of other people, are going to see Roger Waters perform The Wall. According to the tour website, the show will feature Waters, backed by a full band, performing The Wall from start to finish. Added to the mix will be an enormous wall, state-of-the-art video projections, a quadrophonic sound system, and puppets and inflatable objects.
I’m looking forward to the show because I like listening to live music and because some of the songs on The Wall are among my favorite songs, ever. The album came out when I was in college, when Pink Floyd was a staple on every stereo system. Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here were generally recognized, then and now, as two of the very best rock albums ever recorded, and Animals wasn’t chump change, either. Then years passed without a new Pink Floyd album. When the word got out that The Wall was in the offing it became one of the most eagerly anticipated album releases ever. When it finally hit the record stores I immediately bought a copy and listened to it from beginning to end and most of my friends did, too.
After repeated playings I fell into a pattern of listening to the first three sides of the album where my favorite songs — Mother, Young Lust, Don’t Leave Me Now, Hey You, and particularly the epic Comfortably Numb — were found. Side four fell into disuse, like side four of the Beatles’ White Album. In a way, listening to Roger Waters and his band perform side four will be like running into an old friend that I haven’t seen for years.
When you first get an Ipod, you have the tremendous luxury of seemingly infinite space. You can put enormous amounts of music on the virgin Ipod, and therefore there really is no need to make careful choices. The default answer to the download question for every song is “yes.” Basically, unless you despise the song — say, the way I feel about Kansas’ Carry On, My Wayward Son and Dust In The Wind — you decide to include it.
After a while, you notice that you’ve got a lot of songs on the Ipod, and the remaining space is getting limited. You decide that you need to get rid of some of the stuff on the Ipod, and think that perhaps you were a bit too accepting of mediocrity in loading songs in the first place. At that point, you face the interesting challenge of culling the Ipod.
There are countless ways to cull the Ipod. You could start from a top down perspective by looking at your playlists or categories and thinking about whether, for example, you have too much classical music. Or consider instances where you loaded an entire CD onto the Ipod and think about whether it is worth having Revolution No. 9 on the Ipod just so you have the complete Beatles’ White Album. (I voted no on that one.) Or you can go bottom up, by looking at all of your songs and eliminating duplicates. Do you really need both the studio and the live version of a song? Is it worth it to have both The Guess Who and the Lenny Kravitz version of American Woman? (I voted yes on that one.) Or you can get down to the micro level and listen to each of your playlists and then decide which songs reasonably can be eliminated to free up some space.
The latter is my preferred approach. I like the song-by-song approach because you feel you are giving all of the songs a fair shot. After you give a final listen, you make a decision. In reality, songs that were interesting at the beginning can get old, or can just seem . . . average. Who wants meh songs on their Ipod? If you want to listen to average stuff, you listen to the radio. On my Ipod culling expeditions, stuff that seems average to me hits the cutting room floor.