Today I started my semi-annual stint as an office temp at my mom’s place of work. My main task is sorting through files and recycling documents that are more than three years old. Not exactly glamorous, I know. It is, however, time-consuming, so you can see why they hire a poor college student to do it.
You know how Mary Poppins tricks her charges into thinking chores are fun? When it comes to mundane activities (or Calculus homework), I continue to employ that method with myself. Usually my distraction is simply music. Then the temp job becomes listening to music in an air-conditioned room, which sounds pretty cushy actually. The only problem is that I work for hours at a time. That’s a lot of music decisions to make, and sometimes I even find that — gasp! — it loses its novelty after a few days.
Last summer I combated boredom by putting my iPod on shuffle. I’m normally a bit of a control freak about what music I listen to at any particular time, so this was a radical move. It exposed me to some songs in the SHeDAISY catalog that I might not otherwise have heard. Still, I got annoyed by how the shuffle seems to get stuck on certain artists and plays an unnecessary number of songs that are already on my Top 25 Most Played list. I preferred that it remind me of songs that I wouldn’t have chosen for myself.
This conundrum illustrates how digital music has changed my listening experience. Back in the day, I would buy a new CD and listen to it from beginning to end. New music was scarce and, therefore, to be treated with reverence. Now I can get hundreds of songs at once from a friend. The music lives on my computer, and I’m probably at least surfing the internet while I listen. In the olden days, I also avoided buying more than one CD at a time. I knew from experience that I would fall in love with one and not give the other a fair shot. Imagine the phenomenon multiplied by ten when I have a digital music exchange. There are a significant number of songs in my iTunes Library that have never been played!
That was a situation I set out to remedy this summer, and filing seemed like the perfect time to start. I began with some of the most recent additions from a spring term exchange with Katie, one of my roommates. I had latched on to the fun pop music and neglected other offerings. The most obvious oversight was an entire album by Laura Veirs, a folk musician who also happens to have a geology degree from Carleton. Her song “July Flame” was free on iTunes last January, so I downloaded it on a whim. Unlike most free downloads, this one thoroughly impressed me, eventually rising to the famed Top 25 list. So why had I not listened to Year of Meteors, an entire album languishing on my computer? There was no logical reason!
In case you’re wondering, I liked the album because it felt very “Carleton.” Her lyrics were also very geological, which isn’t something you often get to say. It reminded me of some of my favorite geo majors. Who else would write a love song called “Spelunking”?
If geology references really peaked your interest, here’s “Spelunking” with a fuzzy/cool video.