I am a certified (perhaps even certifiable) audiophile, one end of our big living room is full of audio gear with names most people won't recognize but other certifiables will: Linn, SimAudio, Totem, Magnum Dynalab, and Simon Yorke Designs (dig the URL on that last one). Some nights, the quality of the sound is almost frighteningly good. But I think I often enjoy music more in the car.

The car of which I speak is a good one with a nice sound system. Driving takes up just enough mental bandwidth for the music to fill the rest satisfactorily. And when driving alone, you can set the volume at any old level you like.

This leaves one problem, though: what to listen to? I'm a pretty crazed music buyer, so I can usually go grab a couple of disks to throw in the car that are still fresh in my ears and full of musical delight. On the other hand, if I just listen to recordings, I'll never discover any new music. I don't know about you, but the only way I discover new music these days is by hearing it on the radio. And the thought of becoming a musical old fart who only listens to music recorded decades or more ago is really repellant.

So then, what radio station? On the car radio there's the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, like NPR only way more classical-music oriented), a girlie-pop station, two new-rock stations, a classic-rock station, and a painfully earnest public-access station that is mostly left-wing politics and Croation-community news.

Listening to the classic-rock station is obviously not going to introduce anyone to any new music (unless it's a "classic" performer, i.e. they'll play the latest from Neil Young or Eric Clapton), on the other hand sometimes you'll hear a classic that you haven't for a long time, and really enjoy it - the other day I caught the Nicks/Petty Stop Dragging my Heart Around and the Band's Chest Fever in close sequence, which was pretty nice. But in fact they spend way too much time on Pink Floyd and AC/DC, and life's too short for that.

Whether or not the better new music is to be heard on the New Rock or girlie-pop stations is a matter of choice, chance and season. And as with all new art of any kind, 95% of it is crap (is there any truth to the story that the 95%-is-crap law was first proposed by the sci-fi author Theodore Sturgeon?). But the other 5% can be pretty stirring, and you have to listen to some crap if you're going to keep your new-music soul ticking over.

author · Dad
colophon · rights
picture of the day
January 31, 2003
· Arts (11 fragments)
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