The "other" kind of shuffle

We all shuffle. You know you do it. Whether you're cheap and it's the only ipod you can afford ("I wanted an ipod that you can't see what plays next" is NOT an acceptable excuse. Neither is "I like it for running because it's light and it clips onto my spandex running outfit". But I digress...), you can't decide on a whole album to listen to, you don't have the time to choose, you want a random assortment of songs for your jog/lifting/run/walk to the car from your cubicle, you know what to expect when you set your iPod or Zune (really, a zune? Not even a Shuffle? Sheesh! Why not just stick with a Sony cassette sport walkman?!). You're going to get a mostly random assortment of some of the music that is residing on your ipod. So you have the opportunity to go from something like Guns and Roses directly to Britney Spears! (not me personally, this is just an example. I'd NEVER actually have Guns n Roses on my iPod. I keed, I keed. But I digress....)

Much has been discussed on the topic of the shuffle. It was a huge phenomena when the ipod was first released. So wait, you mean i can listen to the songs on my iPod in NO PARTICULAR ORDER! OMG THAT'S THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER INVENTED! Not necessarily the fact that you can now store over 10,000 songs in your pocket. You're excited that now you don't have to go to all the work of picking something out of order, you can let the machine do it for you. WOOHOO! But hopefully you won't run into the stunning possibility of hearing songs from the same artist back-to-back! OH NO! What do we do! Learn the definition of RANDOM, dumbass (I need to either stop writing these articles in the afternoon, or stop drining coffee after lunchtime. I can be a little harsh, no?).

OK anyway, my point of writing this was I tried something recently (yesterday) that in most of the time I've owned an MP3 player (shout out to anyone who owned a Rio Karma.Bigger shout out to Braverman and Bomze who are probably the only two people left in the world still using them!): I played songs in order of song title. I know, seems crazy, but I DID IT! I broke the Shuffle tendency! I actually did it by accident. On my way into work I started singing the song Tela by Phish. So when I got to work I really wanted to hear it. I did a search by song and played it. Then I just kinda let the ipod keep going though the rest of the letter T. Actually, I only got through to about the Tr's before the day was over, but I guess that's what happens when you have over 8000 songs on your ipod.

So of course there are pluses and minuses to this method. The biggest plus being that you can hear such a wide variety of artists from tune to tune, which I admit you can also get from using the shuffle. But one of the other things that is really cool is that if you have a bunch of artists covering other people's songs, you can hear the different takes on the same tune. And sometimes that can be really cool because not every cover is an exact remake. And hell sometimes you don't even know that a cover is a cover until you hear it right up against another tune.

(I admit that I recently just realized that the High and Dry on Jamie Cullum's first album is actually a Radiohead cover. I am seriously lacking in my Radiohead exposure. Rolling Stone has already made sure to make me supremely aware of this when I read their top albums of the decade article. Oh, and funny thing that Jamie Cullum's version only appears on the US release of his album Twentysomething. Hmmmm.....)

The big drawback for using this sort of song title shuffle is that if you do store a lot of music on your ipod, perhaps a lot of live shows....perhaps from a band that plays the same songs a lot.....I think you know where I'm giong with this....If you have a shitload of Phish or Dead shows on your iPod then basically you could end up listening to the same song for 3 days. So I'd recommend using some judgment with the ol' flyweel and skip to the next song. Unless you want to listen to 39 straight hours of You Enjoy Myself. And if you do, ROCK ON!

I do like that feature in iTunes, though. If you do a search for a particular Dead tune and it tells you that you have enough of that song on your library to be able to play, nonstop, for 14 days. Not that you ever would...

OK so I'm giving everyone a homework assignment. Pick a letter or a song and start your iPod a-playing tomorrow, Friday, this weekend, whenever. Then come back and share in the comments what your thoughts are. What kind of stuff did you hear? What did you like? What didn't you like? Basically, I'm looking for enough material that I don't have to write another one of these blog columns for at least another week. ;-)

But seriously. Try it and let me know what you think. Buck the trend. Don't shuffle, Song pick. It's the new shuffle, and everybody's doing it. And by everybody, I mean pretty much just me. But do it anyway. Do it.


  1. I've been doing this. I started at Q, and I'm into the Rs now. Other than a string of Rebas, I'm really enjoying it.

    Also, I only have 33 hours of You Enjoy Myself. Thanks for giving me a goal to reach.


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