Carrie Brownstein, former guitarist for the late, lamented Sleater-Kinney Band (seriously, if you haven’t listened to “The Woods” yet, go pick up a copy) writes an interesting blog on music for NPR called Monitor Mix. This post on the shuffle feature of the iPod caught my attention recently. Brownstein dislikes what should be the best radio station in the world–non-stop streaming of your record collection.

For Brownstein, selection of songs should be influenced by mood and context and no mathematical algorithm will be able to figure out “Only play this song if I am driving between Seattle and Portland and I think about my old friend from high school”

I think, given her tenure as a professional musician, that what really bugs her is lack of sequencing: “What iPod shuffle lacks is one of the best parts of a great mix — album sequence, or a justification for why one song follows another. Or maybe I’m just a control freak and I don’t like surprises.” I hear her on that. Try listening to one song from, say, “The Wall” or “Dark Side of the Moon”–those are albums meant to be listened to sequentially and in their entirety.

However, in general I’m a shuffle fan. If I’m in my car I set up iTrip and let it rip. In the evening, I dial up shuffle on my living room iPod speaker system. My problem has always been overkill. I tend to listen to the same songs and bands over and over again, until I’m sick of them. Shuffle re-introduces me to the dusty corners of the 8,000 tunes ripped off my CD’s and sitting on iTunes.

Brownstein challenged her readers to set up shuffle and see if they could stand the first five songs that came up. Here it goes:

Out of the Picture–Son Volt
a tune I usually skip over for 3-4 others that I love off of the album “Trace”

Macy’s Day Parade–Green Day
an ok song off of a Green Day album I don’t pull out as much as others

Reno–Bruce Springsteen
The song that earned Bruce the parental advisory sticker! Still Devils and Dust not played nearly as much as other Bruce albums, especially since the live version of Long Time Comin’ came out on “Live In Dublin.”

Watch Me Fall–Uncle Tupelo
I tend to over play “No Depression” at the expense of these other albums. Good song.

Get Up (Sex Machine)–James Brown

5 songs–only one iffy tune in the batch. Sorry, Carrie. Random rocks. Shuffle on.


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