Billy Bragg's Workers Playtime album has a unique distinction in my musical collection. No, it's not the greatest album ever... That honor goes to either Menudo's landmark Reaching Out or Fabio's After Dark opus.
Mr. Bragg's album released almost exactly 16 years ago (shudder) is the only musical release that I've acquired in cassette, vinyl LP, CD and digitally. I bought the cassette when the album was first released, the LP when I bought a turntable and it was one of the first CDs I bought when that now archaic technology first reared its $14.99 head on the shelves.
The last listen it got was on my 40 gigabyte iPod, where it currently resides with approximately 700 other albums or nearly 7900 songs.
This large volume is both a blessing and a curse. In one way it consolidates a portion the approximately 1200 CDs I own in a convenient device that weighs about as much as run-of-the-mill paperweight, but it also changes the way I listen to music. Rather than listen attentively to a whole album, appreciating the craftsmanship that went into it, I put it on shuffle play in the house and have frankly forgotten what the f*ck I put in it or who is singing half the songs.
Even worse is that tendency to listen to snippets of songs here and there. With that much music at one's disposal it's tough to resist listening to 28 songs in a fifteen minute drive.
Stephen V. Funk, host of this week's feels like the lone holdout on the iPod front. Homeboy is still cruising the aisles of the local record and CD scores, rather than inviting a friend over with a full 80 gigger to poach his eclectic bounty.
Heh. Half of me wants to throw on side two of the Velvet Underground & Nico album on the ol' turn table, but I know as soon as I do the Fletchmonster's peanut butter-coated paws are going to slap that stylus right across "There She Goes Again" to "the Black Angel's Death Song."
Stop by Mr. Funk's viridescent blog and try to get him to switch to the dark side. As for me and Mr. Bragg? This might be the end of the road. If they have to jam the microchip of Workers Playtime up my ass for me to enjoy it, I think I'll pass. The cassette's long gone, but I think the record's still on the shelf.