Rediscovering Music, Digitally

September 24, 2019 2:48pm
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Recently I decided to revisit the seemingly gargantuan task of reorganizing my digital music collection.

It’s something that I’ve been putting off even longer than updating my backup plan because I honestly don’t listen to music much except for maybe when I’m in the car, even though it seems silly to only have access to about 20 albums on my phone when I’ve got upwards of 100 GB of music sitting on the server at home.

But really, therein lies the problem – I’ve found that while Plex has been my loving savior for roughly 99.5% of my digital media woes, the one area where it seems to fall short is in organizing my music because of how it identifies songs … or at least tries to, anyways.

It turns out that despite going through the steps many, many moons ago to convert all of my mountains of CDs that I acquired through the likes of BMG and Columbia House to MP3s, apparently the tags that got embedded in the files are inconsistent as all crap. It never really bothered me because I had the files themselves organized by genre, artist, and album, and I’d play everything with Windows Media Player (or WinAmp if we really want to whip the llama’s ass…).

#geeknostalgia

Anyways, it turns out that when you tell Plex to use a file’s tags, it takes that directive very seriously, even when to my regular, human eyes some of them are absolute garbage! Completely ignoring directory structure, it would mix tracks among different albums and sometimes even classify music under several different artists if their names were spelled incorrectly across the various tracks!

It sucks, which is why I’ve put the project off for so long, however lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the data I hoard and how it makes all of the sense in the world to store it in a format that’s actually useful for its consumption, so it was time to finally start addressing the problem…

…which in my case means importing one or two artists at a time and refreshing my Plex library, then reviewing the results and making any manual changes to group songs together correctly, list multi-disk sets correctly, and so forth.

After several hours of work, Plex tells me that so far I’ve added a whopping 19 artists to my library, so I’ve clearly got a long ways to go, but the plus side of all of this is that I’ve been stumbling back across all of these great songs that I used to love at various times over the years.

So I thought it might be fun to share a few here – most are from my college days, though Led Zeppelin I listened to pretty much religiously back in high school! It’s amazing how beautiful some of those guitar tracks are that I’ve completely forgotten about…

Maybe as I come across others, I’ll write a little something about select favorites and what they mean to me … seeing as that was actually the original intention of this blog post when I first started writing. 😉

music thoughts … Weezer (The Teal Album)

January 29, 2019 3:26pm
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I’m gonna be honest – I don’t really listen to modern music anymore, and maybe that’s why I ended up really liking this album!

I don’t think that I’ve actually listened to Weezer since The Blue Album, which I think was their first one??? That one was pretty influential to my growing up – my band played songs off of it and everything – but the rest of their albums just never really clicked with me.

I stumbled across this very randomly on social media, and when I looked it up and saw that A) it was only $8, and B) it had some great 80’s songs that I love, I decided to give it a try…

That said – it’s kind of a weird selection of songs.

Most of them I really like, but No Scrubs and Stand by Me and even Paranoid don’t really feel like they belong here. That said, my favorites are…

  1. Africa
  2. Everybody Wants to Rule the World
  3. Billie Jean
  4. Mr. Blue Sky
  5. Take On Me

There are definitely places in a few – Billie Jean, for example – where I wish there was a little more heavy guitar … I’m not crazy how it amps up for the bridge in that one, then dies back off just in time for the chorus, but it’s still a fun take on a great song.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World takes me back to when I first encountered that song as the intro for Dennis Miller’s show on HBO (back before he became a conservative), and Africa is really just a fantastic song to boot!

If they had swapped out a handful of the others for maybe Jungle Boy and Eye of the Tigers and Don’t You (Forget About Me), this album would be just about perfect.

Still, it’s something a little funky and different to listen to in the car, and even old farts like me need that every now and then! 😉

Dream Journal : Vicodin Dreams, Pt. 1

July 24, 2018 9:44am
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This week I’ve been relying heavily on Vicodin to help me sleep while trying to pass a kidney stone, which has resulted in some particularly lucid, albeit still pretty weird dreams…

I was a member of Aerosmith!!!

…sort of…

I was visiting a group of friends at college and trying to find someplace where I could take a shower. They had these big, community locker rooms / showers, so I waited until everyone had left, borrowed someone else’s towel and shampoo that were left there, and did what I needed to do.

Later on that night when we were front and center for a show, somebody with the band pulled me aside and told me that I could be a big help to them, on account of how much I resembled lead guitarist Joe Perry with my long hair and all.

I stood out on the stage for a few minutes with one of Joe’s guitars while they adjusted lighting and whatnot, and when they were done the same guy asked if I wanted to work with them full time!

It felt like I’d been picked to be a part of the band, and for the next six months I toured with the group and stood in for Mr. Perry whenever he was too busy to be bothered with setting up shots and whatnot himself. It was amazing and I felt like a rockstar … even though I never actually played a note myself, despite standing in the shadows of giants seemingly every single night.

Eventually, though, I realized that my dream wasn’t really to be Joe Perry, but to be a famous musician like Joe Perry, and so reluctantly I handed my mantle down to another fan who sort of looked like the star to instead focus on actually making music myself.

If it turned out that I still sort of looked like Joe Perry doing it, then that would just be a bonus.

From the video game lyric’ing brilliance of Brentalfloss comes this delightful, holiday tune about the Presidential candidate who speaks his mind, which apparently is usually filled with mostly asshole thoughts that sadly a surprising percentage of our voting public relates to. Whether this crazy billionaire actually becomes the president that America probably deserves next year or not, at least we have this song to dwell on in the meantime … Mr. Grinch. 😛

I’ve kind of been more into the older, more classic holiday tunes lately, as noted in this year’s 4th edition of my Christmas Mix Tapes – the other three of which can be found right here…

Not sure why I didn’t put one of these together last year, but it’s fun to look back and see which holiday songs I was rocking out to in the previous years and I’ve got a feeling as Christopher gets a bit older and can more eloquently vocalize his radio demands in the car, we’ll be seeing the list trend rather differently still! But until then…

  1. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (performed by Johnny Mathis)
  2. The Christmas Song (performed by Nat King Cole)
  3. Happy Holidays (performed by Andy Williams)
  4. Sleigh Ride (performed by John Williams & The Boston Pops)
  5. White Christmas (performed by Bing Crosby)
  6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (performed by Frank Sinatra)
  7. Let It Snow! (performed by Dean Martin)
  8. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (performed by Andy Williams)
  9. Walking in a Winter Wonderland (performed by Dean Martin)
  10. Christmas Time is Here (by Vince Guaraldi)

Are you sure you don’t want a banana???

November 11, 2015 2:15am
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I was singing the chorus to this old classic from Tally Hall to the kid while we were walking through Walmart earlier this evening … decided to show him the video before bed and forgot how extraordinarily creepy the actual video for the song really was!

Needless to say, I had to summon the aid of one C. Monster to help bring things back to his level… 😉

Push It to the Limit!

July 2, 2015 12:42pm
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This song amuses me to no end simply because I was first introduced to it while playing Grand Theft Auto 3 and listening to the ridiculous lyrics, I legitimately thought that it was a fictional song that had been made up for the game – in line with all of the great fictional ads like PetsOvernight.com and the Maibatsu Monstrosity!

“Welcome to the limit!”

I found myself reminded of this old tune circa 1983 from the episode of Fraggle Rock that Christopher got to watch after eating lunch today, and it amuses me how whenever I watch these older Muppet works like Fraggle Rock or The Muppet Show or even the classic episodes of Sesame Street just how much Jim Henson himself bled through the characters that he played – with this one, it’s almost hard not to picture Jim himself playing that magical flute down in the Fraggle caves, singing his song of songs to anyone who cared to listen.

In fact, you can actually see some fun pictures of Jim posing and performing this character (Cantus the Minstrel) over on the Muppet Wiki!

The other day I was posed with the challenge of naming who my creative mentors would be if I were to gather them all around a table for their advice and wisdom, and though I’m probably going to write about the exercise later in greater detail because I really found it to be pretty interesting, I’ve got to say that at the time the very first person to pop into my mind was none other than Jim Henson. And I’m not entirely sure why, but what I’ve pieced together so far is that even though I’m not necessarily precisely where I’d like to be in my writing career at this point in my life, I can say that I’m trying to get there by embracing in these things that I’m the most passionate about and you don’t have to watch more than a couple of minutes of any Muppet act to know without a shadow of a doubt that Jim Henson lived creatively by doing exactly that.

It’s also interesting – and admittedly a bit relieving – to note that as epic as those regrettably short, last twenty years of his life were, looking at Jim Henson’s career, some of my absolute favorite things to come from the legend actually didn’t come to be until later on in his life:

  • Sesame Street first aired in 1969, when Jim was 33 years old
  • The Muppet Show first took roots in 1976 (40 years old)
  • The Muppet Movie hit theaters in 1979 (43 years old)
  • Fraggle Rock first aired on HBO in 1983 (47 years old)
  • And probably my personal favorite – A Muppet Family Christmas – was released in 1987 when Jim was 51 years old (only two years before his death)

I bring this up simply because lately it’s been easy to sort of look around and panic when I see that I’m 34 years old and I’m not exactly where I want to be in life, but I try to think of a guy like Jim Henson – one of my creative mentors – and not only acknowledge that some of his best works came far later in his life, but also – and more importantly – that frankly it’s hard not to look back at any of these moments in his career and not see just a happy, bubbly guy having the time of his life creating these bizarrely charming stories about wandering minstrels and strange, little creatures living just out of sight, and it kind of makes me stop and question my priorities and whether I should really be beating myself up for not being farther in life than I would like instead of simply living in the moment and enjoying every last step of the process along the way.

Hmmm. 🙂

Nothing’s Gonna Change My World

April 29, 2015 8:06pm
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I just discovered last night that this song that I’ve heard bits and pieces of over the years is actually a song by The Beatles, and though I’m by no means their biggest fan, I can’t help but find the lyrics to this particular one to be like poetry…

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe.
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind,
Possessing and caressing me…
Jai Guru Deva OM

Interesting to read that the background of the song is very spiritual, and I thought that the words went quite well with this particular YouTube video featuring imagery of the stars around our own universe, too. 🙂

[Edit: I had to swap out the video because it got flagged as only available in the UK and the imagery in this new one is a bit … different!]

Fun with Christopher – Space Oddity

April 29, 2015 2:03am
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I remember having this idea a couple of years ago that it might be kind of cool once I had a kid to setup a website of all the neat things that we explore online together … may have to revisit that one after the fun we had this evening…

Anyways, this song came up because I had The Secret Life of Walter Mitty on in the background and after it cut out (just before Walter accidentally dives into the ocean!), I thought it might be fun to show him the original … or at least, the original as uniquely performed by the Commander of the International Space Station IN SPACE!!!

I know that at one year old he doesn’t really get space or weightlessness or the thought of everything mankind has ever known existing on that blue marble floating below the ISS, but he will. I suppose that’s the fun part! 😉

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