Modern Man

The house is empty, apart from me and the cockroaches. Dishes are piled up all over the sink and spilling on to the bench and the stovetop. It looks like a big job.

I wander over to the stereo to select the soundtrack to the morning's chores and find myself (more often than not these days) not making a choice at all.

I put the iPod into song shuffle mode and let chance determine where the mood of my morning will go.

Dozens of albums, thousands of songs have been digitised and delivered into its compact casing. Given that most of them are things I have loved and loaded, there's a fair chance it will produce a playlist that's agreeable to me.

I can't quite come at the idea of subscribing to Spotify, where the history of popular music (well, almost) is available to stream for a small monthly fee. Music to me isn't like gas or electricity, a commodity that you just turn on. I come from a generation where serious music fans spent their weekends looking through milk crates full of vinyl records at record fairs and walking away with a box full of bargains. Or we'd painstakingly copy things from mates onto cassettes (and write all the song names onto the covers).

As the suds work their magic on the greasy plates and pots, old favourites like The Beatles, Paul Kelly and Johnny Cash are interspersed with more obscure but equally uplifting selections from Jackie Marshall, Sime Nugent and The Audreys. It then segues through a bit of 70s funk and disco and comes out blaring the big brassy sounds of The Cat Empire.

It's like a radio station that only plays my favourite songs - with no inane DJs or ads in between.

I think a lot of technology is overrated, but a device that lets you hold a substantial music library in the palm of your hand is a wonder of the modern age. And the shuffle function adds an element of surprise, letting you rediscover long lost gems that would otherwise be gathering dust on the shelf.

Maybe it's an age thing, but I don't have the same hunger for new music that I once had. We're spoilt for choice these days and often it's overwhelming.

As I finish the dishes (and kill a few cockroaches along the way), shuffle senses that I'm ready to rock out a bit more. It throws some Radio Birdman, Rolling Stones and even a bit of AC/DC my way.

I'm cooking now, literally and metaphorically.

I'm chopping fresh tomatoes from the garden for a lentil lasagne while the Drive-By-Truckers crank out their bittersweet country rock.

I still love the art of an album, but I've come around to the idea of randomising my musical selections. Choice is overrated. Let the universe throw some surprises my way.

Topics:  opinion

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