Friday, January 18, 2008

Music to my ears

About six months ago I bought a 30GB iPod. It's the most expensive thing (not adjusted for inflation) I ever bought that was purely for entertainment. But I have to say that it has been worth every penny. I had already copied most of the CD's I like to my computer, where I could listen to them while I graded papers (a really good time to listen to music). But my favorite place to listen to music is the car, and while I have a nice tape player in the car, my tape collection is limited. The tape player has a jack, originally for inputting a CD player but it works just fine for an iPod.

Now where ever I go I can take my favorite music with me. Every work day begins and ends on a much more pleasant note (ha!) now that I have my iPod. Also I can pop in the ear buds in my office and enjoy my music without disturbing the neighbors (who I must say are not quite as thoughtful -- they play their music over their speakers). The last time I remember having this much music in my life was when I got my first transistor radio on my 13th birthday (February 1964) and walked around all day holding it to my ear listening to things like: "Norwegian Wood," "Eight Days a Week," "Red Roses for a Blue Lady," and what ever else was on the top 40 pop charts.

Over the holiday's we decided that it was time to do something about all the crates of vinyl albums we had sitting around the house tripping us up. We had a record player, but no convenient place to set it up permanently (so that it would not get sat on by cats), and be accessible to us while we work. So we spent another hundred bucks for an ION USB turntable, that fits neatly on the file cabinet next to my computer. It came with Audacity software (which one can also download from the internet for free). It takes a little bit of time -- I usually manage to record one or maybe two albums in an evening while I'm working on other things on the computer. But slowly we are converting our vinyl collection into MP3 format.

I have so many odd things on vinyl -- the sound track for Dr. Who, a Yiddish Klesmer band, obscure feminist songwriter/singers like Kristin Lems, the White Top Mountain Boys, etc. Then there is all the records from college, that evokes so many moods and memories from the past. As a freshman in college, I put myself to sleep at night with my roommates records and record player (it had a stacker and automatic power cut off). I liked to listen to things like James Taylor's first album, the soundtrack from "A Man and A Woman," and works by Scarlatti and Bach.

We've had the USB turntable for a month, and I only yesterday discovered that it also has a 1/8" input jack to which you can attach a tape player. Now I can also convert all my favorite tapes to MP3 format, too. Of course I'll need to find something to play the tapes on!

The tapes I have been listening to in the car for all these years, but could not listen to anywhere else (tape players seem to tear up so easily). I am particularly looking forward to getting my Mireille Mathieu "L'Americain" in digital format. I love this album -- even though I understand only about two dozen words on the whole thing. I never learned French. But the melodies are stirring, and the choruses are singable (even if I don't have any idea what I am singing). A year or so ago, I was wondering if it were possible to purchase a CD of this album so that I could listen to it more often, and discovered that yes, if I wanted to ante up more than $400 dollars I could get a CD through Obviously other folks like the album too!

I'm not an audophile. My hearing has never been good, and with age it is deteriorating even more, so I'm not concerned about eliminating all the pops and clicks as I transfer my analog recordings to digital format. I just want to hear the melodies and the words, and be able to sing along!