Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pandora the Explorer

Another thing I will miss is, the amazing internet radio service where you could fashion entire playlists of music attuned to your specified tastes. Music mapped out like DNA and sent to you in optimized combinations for your Gladiator-esque thumbs up/down - further mapping the DNA. A fascinating listening experience which sent me in the last few months on new musical obsessions, triggered mostly by combinations of taste and chance.

I found the best way to tune the station to my taste was to only weigh in on what song came my way if it was a thumbs-down. The more you say you like, the fuzzier the selections started getting in the long-run. If I liked it, I remained neutral. Fine-tuning a station's parameters was sometimes like caring for a musical tamagotchi.

I became strangely fascinated in the random yacht rock that came down the pipes when I built a station around Eddie Money's 'Two Tickets To Paradise' - triggering a previously unimaginable interest in Kim Carnes' post-'Bette Davis Eyes' career (the tracks off 1983's 'Cafe Racers' are begging to be on a Grand Theft Auto radio). A station built around a Jobim song called 'Surfboard' introduced me to new veins of Brazilian jazz and MPB. I made a trashy metal station that kept churning up choice power ballads that made me need to know "Who the hell is this?" - the answer was almost always Dokken. And I overdosed on Spanish Reggaeton.

But most hazardous to my financial health and well-being was my heroic exposure to/fixation with what I call Dandy Rock! I built a whole station around it - called 'Dandy'!

To be a Dandy Rocker you have to be a sixties teen idol who shuns the screams of his fans to take refuge in his mansion, his Cucumber Castle if you will, where a reading room awaits supplied with bricks of hash and 17th century
nautical maps for when inspiration strikes. Found all sorts of great music this way. Amazing b-sides from the pre-'Odessa' Bee Gees, the fantastic Barry Ryan (the only rock star to go on the record as saying he was chiefly inspired by Richard Harris), Kevin Ayers (who put out an over-the-top baroque rock album called 'Joy of a Toy') and the granddaddy of them all, Scott Walker (which has in turn spun off a renewed interest in David Bowie - in particular HIS Anthony Newley fixation early on - talk about dandy rock!)

Anyway, the RIAA has imposed boa-constrictor-like rulings and fees on these internet services, and they've been bleeding money ever since. They cut off service to most of the world recently; today the taps to Canada shut off. And just when I had started buying music again!

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