In last week’s installment of my regular “Sonic Boom” feature, I noted that my trusty 120 GB iPod was housing a total of 16,191 songs (and the first season of FX television drama Sons of Anarchy). Remarkable, no? That such a small device can be home to such a wealth of recorded material? I certainly think so. In fact, after writing that piece, I spent some time marveling over this exact fact. And then, I went home to add more fuel to the fire: I had 10 or so new albums in my possession that I was eager to get onto my iPod, so that I could add them to my playlists and thus, my daily rotation.
But when I got home, and attempted to load onto my iPod those 10 or so albums, I was met with the following message:
“There is not enough room on Michael Patrick Nelson’s iPod to copy all the requested files.”
This has happened to me before, of course. It means I’ve run out of space for new music, so I’ve got to cut ties with some of the old stuff. Understand, this is terribly difficult for me—I’m not one for goodbyes. So I’m forced to make some tough decisions, and for me, the best way to begin making those decisions is to take a good hard look at my library, at what I listen to and what I don’t. And today, as I look at that library, I realize that I have plenty of fat to trim, plenty of choices to make, plenty of albums under consideration for deletion from my iPod. But let’s talk through that decision-making process, shall we, lest we make any rash moves?
You may not be aware of this but Prince has released a lot of albums. A lot of albums. I, though, am aware of this because (A) I am something of a fan of popular music, and (B) I spent a solid week earlier this year loading every single Prince album onto my then-new iPod. Here’s something else about which you might not be aware: Speaking strictly in terms of artistic quality, not every Prince album is on the same level as, say, Purple Rain or Dirty Mind. Now, don’t get me wrong—those are great records, so that’s a high bar. But, honestly, some of his recent work is really quite a few notches below. Take, for instance, 2003’s N.E.W.S—which comprises four 14-minute tracks of instrumental jazz/fusion/funk. It’s quite unlistenable, if I’m speaking frankly. HOWEVER, I have certain OCD tendencies, and for me, the idea of removing a single Prince album from a complete catalog would be slightly nauseating, so for now it is: SAFE.
Have you heard of Carolina Liar? Perhaps you have. I am under the impression that they may be quite well known. I, though, know them for exactly one reason: because Swedish songwriter Max Martin “big-upped” them in a 2008 interview, and he was one of the producers of their debut album, Coming to Terms, and I am a great fan of Martin’s work. (You know Max Martin, even if you don’t: He wrote “Since U Been Gone” and “I Want it That Way” and “…Baby One More Time” and pretty much every other song that has cracked the Billboard Top 40 over the last decade.) Anyway, because I trust Max Martin, I loaded Coming to Terms on to my iPod, but I must admit, it’s not my cup of tea, and I haven’t listened to the whole thing through even once. HOWEVER, I’m confident enough in my own understanding of music to recognize that Max Martin knows a lot more than I do, so I’m hesitant to delete an album he so enthusiastically recommended (even if he does have a financial stake in the album’s success), so until I give it at least one more chance (something I’m not eager to do anytime soon) it is: SAFE.
No, no, not Graham Greene—author of such classic novels as Brighton Rock, The End of the Affair and Our Man in Havana—this is Grant Green, the great jazz guitarist! Um, assuming you had confused the two. Which you probably hadn’t. I have several of Green’s LPs on my iPod—including such standouts as Green Street, Oleo, The Matador and Idle Moments—but I also have this four-disc set, which comprises much of the work Green did for the Blue Note recording label between the years of 1961 and 1966. (NB: Green’s recording career extended to 1978.) Now, I don’t listen to Grant Green all the time—I mean, I listen to him maybe once a year or so—so I don’t really need a lot of Grant Green on my iPod, and I certainly don’t need to devote this much space to this one period of Green’s career. HOWEVER, I’m mildly intimidated by jazz snobs, so rather than incur their disdain and disapproval (and yes, I am aware that I don’t really hang around too many jazz snobs, so the only way they might know about this transgression is to read about it right here, but that’s beside the point now, isn’t it?), this is: SAFE.
Miley Cyrus—The Time of Our Lives EP (2009) I will admit with neither shame nor guilt that I love the song “See You Again” by Miley Cyrus, featured on the 2007 album Meet Miley Cyrus, which is also known as the second disc of the two-CD collection Hannah Montana 2. I should also note, though, that every other song on both those discs is utterly without value. Still, I decided I would give a listen to Ms. Montana/Cyrus’ The Time of Our Lives EP, hoping for another “See You Again,” and also because the lead single from said EP, “Party in the USA,” is a catchy-enough little number (which, as it happens, is co-written by Max Martin’s songwriting partner Dr. Luke, assuming that means anything to anyone but me). HOWEVER, “Party in the USA” is frankly rather cloying, and nothing else on The Time of Our Lives is even at that level, so it is: DELETED.
Wow! It seems I have managed to delete…seven songs and clear and additional 30 MB of space! Would you look at that? And now I may begin filling my iPod again—slowly, lightly, song by song, until once again I have reached my cap, my breaking point, my limit in this ever-expanding infinite universe.