Just about every movie has a soundtrack. Through the twists and turns of any particular plot, music will accompany whatever emotion the characters have to portray. If a character cries, something suitably sad will play. Whether the characters are aware of this is up to the director. Sometimes (Pieces of April springs to mind) the characters actually control what music gets played (which completely explains why the soundtrack is comprised mostly of one band – the Magnetic Fields) but most of the time the soundtrack is on top of the movie—coming along for the ride, but not altering the course of events. We’ve come to accept and expect this sort of thing; a silent movie would almost certainly be a failure if presented in a mainstream theater, and one that centers on the music itself almost always becomes a cult favorite at best. Music is needed in movies to accentuate life, but lately I’ve noticed that music is needed in real life more and more to accentuate our own personal movies.
Almost everyone I know has used the phrase ‘soundtrack for my life’ more than enough times to explain their music collection. I’m sure just about everyone reading this could concur; at least someone they know has said those words in some form or another. I never used to hear this, though. Not when people had tape decks. Not even when they had CD players. No, I’ve only heard this now that everyone can carry every song they’ve ever heard on a device the size of a small deck of cards.
This is feasibly logical. Since they can access any song to fit any mood at any given time, it makes sense to call it ‘their soundtrack’. If they need something to make out to, all they need to do is twirl the wheel down to Azure Ray. If they need to run away really fast, all it takes to change the mood is a small click over to The Crystal Method. You get the idea. At any moment, each person (with an ipod or other mass-hard drive mp3 player, anyways) will always have the perfect music to fit their particular mood. They need never suffer silence again. On paper, this is beautiful. Everyone can actually live as if they’re characters in a movie. They can have entrance music. They can have driving music. They can tune the fm dial to the Sunday football game during their evil step-mothers’ funeral and fulfill that stereotype if they wish. The montages of possibilities are endless.
Unless, of course, your life has absolutely nothing to do with the music inside the Ipod.
I don’t own one of these things, personally. My girlfriend is on a trip and wanted music but didn’t want the possibility of losing her Ipod, so she traded me for my CD player. I’d always been curious about the little white gadgets, and thought this an excellent opportunity to test-drive one. The thing is, having an ipod filled with someone else’s music—even if that person is someone with relatively similar tastes in said music—is like that scene in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast where Belle finds herself able to roam around the castle for the first time. It’s huge—so huge you can’t actually fathom ever finding all of it—but none of it is yours, and suddenly you can’t help but feel very isolated. For the first five days I stuck to listening to the new Raveonettes and Rilo Kiley albums—both albums I own, both I’ve listened to a ton already since getting them—because I felt alone in the dark. It was an experience I didn’t know existed; feeling trapped in such an amazingly large room, afraid to venture further into the dark, even though I knew that very little could be dangerous.
After the fourth day I’d learned a few of the nuances of handling the ipod. I still didn’t like the fact that you seemingly can’t change the volume while skimming other songs, and the fact that I had to take it out of my pocket in order to change songs or playlists (something that I’m sure comes with time and familiarity), but it was growing on me. Soon, the pluses easily outdid the minuses in terms of handling; the click-wheel is more responsive and intuitive than it leads on at first, and the liquid clear screen beats LCD anyday. I could theoretically trade slight functioning annoyances for sheer size, but there were other things that caught my eye more than simple mechanics. This Ipod felt wrong not because of it’s clunky (at least, to someone used to handling only CD players) setup, but because it wasn’t mine. I’d never seen my girlfriend have the problems with it that I have had, and whenever I’m on the subway and people are listening to them (you can tell by the headphones, most of them anyhow) I never see anyone having an inch of trouble. I can only assume this comes from personalization. From all I know, Lauren is having the same problems with my discman.
One of the Ipods’ gimmicks is that it’s shuffle feature can read your mind. They actually suggest this. It’s on the back of the Ipod shuffle box if you don’t believe me. How this works is simple. YOU put the music on your Ipod. YOU turn on the shuffle feature. Surprise, surprise, the ipod will more than likely play a song that YOU like. If you filled your ipod with shit, then it isn’t going to play gold. Still, they don’t actually claim they’ll play what you like. They claim it’ll play the right song, and this is where I get back to my point about lives having soundtracks so they’ll be like movies. The idea Apple has banked on is that if you fill up your ipod with every song you know, then the ipod will follow you around and magically provide the perfect music to your life without you ever needing to stop and change discs. The theory works, and it works perfectly, even if nobody is stopping to ask if the music is perfect because they themselves picked it or if it’s perfect because it’s there and nothing used to be before. Everybody has a song for every situation, and personally, to them, that’s the perfect song. If there’s a hole somewhere, they’ll fill it when they need to, and it’ll go on the ipod for future use when that moment comes around again. This is why using someone else’s ipod is so weird. I’m using someone else’s soundtrack for my own life, and it doesn’t fit in the least.
This is why, for the first few days, I kept to the music that overlapped both collections. Even after I listened to some stuff that I didn’t own, I felt isolated, and realized that’s exactly how everyone who owns an ipod feels all the time. The advantages to having your own soundtrack all the time for every circumstance are significantly cut down when one realizes that they have to experience this soundtrack alone. The music isn’t above or around us. It doesn’t swell around every person when something climatic occurs. It’s in your ears and nowhere else. While in your head, the movie of your life is filled with this wonderful soundtrack. To everyone else around you though, you’re dancing and singing along to something they can’t experience.
Picture two people sitting on a train. They don’t know one another, and the only thing they have in common is the two pairs of white bud earphones sticking out of their heads. Now picture two people who don’t know each other standing at a bar, with music blaring from the speakers. Can you guess which set of people will more than likely talk to one another? Having a soundtrack with you can make your personal space a lot more entertaining, but it also creates a wall that becomes impenetrable by spontaneous activity from perfectly good strangers.
And yes, this can certainly apply to anyone with a personal music player of any kind, but it becomes more so with a giant mp3 player because there is never a need to stop the music. A CD is eventually going to run out, and when it does there is silence, at least for a few seconds, and with silence comes loneliness in a selfish sense but also the opportunity for commune. I never really realized this until I found myself on the subway, being so frustrated that the music I had with me was not my own but someone else’s and though I love them, their soundtrack is not mine and won’t be until we do that serious relationship step where we mix our music collections into one conglomerate whole. I stopped it and listened to the ricketing tracks outside, and that was more comforting because I knew it so well. It was part of the soundtrack of my life and 99% of what was in that Ipod was not.
Arcade Fire EP to get re-issued this summer
Merge will re-release the Arcade Fire’s Us Kids Know EP on July 23rd. Originally self-released by the band in 2003, the album will be remastered. Check the tracklisting below:
1. Old Flame
2. I’m Sleeping In a Submarine
3. No Cars Go
4. The Woodland National Anthem
5. My Heart Is an Apple
6. Headlights Look Like Diamonds
7. Vampire/Forest Fire
Credit – indieworkshop.com
GELDOF GIVES ‘LIVE AID 2’ THE GO-AHEAD
BOB GELDOF has confirmed that he and MIDGE URE are planning a huge gig to coincide with the G8 summit in July, although it will not be called LIVE AID 2.
Acts rumoured to appear include U2, Paul McCartney and Madonna, who also took part in the 1985 Live Aid concert organised by Geldof. There have also been mutterings of a Spice Girls reunion.
“What started 20 years ago is coming to a political point in a few weeks,” said Geldof. “There’s more than a chance that the boys and girls with guitars will finally get to turn the world on its axis.”
“We’ll have all the big names we can find,” Ure said. “It’s big, and it’s as petrifying as the build-up to Live Aid, if not more so.”
Credit – nme.com
I am most definitely on the ‘Drama’ side of things in IP’s May feature of reality tv VS dramas. Check back with this one, as it’ll be updated throughout the month, even though the month is inches from being over.
yeah! Gregory Wind chimes in giving the amazing Sleater Kinney a great review.
Gloomchen lists the singles from Madonna that changed her perception of life early on. Always quality.
Lyrics To Live By
Fire Coming Out of The Monkey’s Head – Gorillaz
Falling out of aeroplanes
and hiding out in holes
waiting for the sunset to come
people going home
jump out from out behind them
and shoot them in the head
now everybody’s dancing
the dance of the dead
Oh little town USA
the time has come to see
there’s nothing you believe you want
but where were you when it all came
down on me
did you call me? no
Speaking of Gorillaz, next week I’m going to be talking a bit about them. They’re the kind of band that’s sort of difficult to describe, and I’m going to argue that the description process in music is completely archaic and we need to do something about it immediately.
Oh, and before I go, let me plug my gig this coming Saturday. If you’re in the Toronto area and dig the sort of stuff I mention in this column, come out for a night of good drink, good dancing, and something completely new and different.
After months on hiatus, Hallelujah has found a new home at Swallow Lounge. Beginning on 4 June 2005, rotating DJs Matt Nish-Lapidus, Ryan McLaren, Kyle David Paul and Matt Blair will spin a blend of indie, punk, madchester, soul and more.
Party on, Garth.