I fell down and broke my ribs. Upshot: I’ve got a couple of weeks on the couch ahead of me. This is day five. You’d think I’d use that time to buckle down and get some serious writing done, but morphine had other ideas about that.
So with limited concentration, and while I’m drifting in and out of consciousness every half an hour or so, it’s nice to be listening to some music. And while I’m not enjoying the injury itself (note the understatement), it’s really good to finally have some time to sit down and actually listen to music – not just have it on while I work.
I can’t get up and down and change records, so vinyl’s not much of an option at the moment (plus, things aren’t quite unpacked and in their final resting places just yet) – and my big hard drive of music is at the office. So I thought I’d give Spotify another go. Yes, it’s lacking in transparency and “does not do a good job of explaining its benefits to artists” (or “rips off artists“, depending on who’s telling the story), but from this listener’s perspective, Spotify has been a bit of a godsend recently.
I’m mostly listening to other people’s playlists. It’s one of my favourite things about Spotify.
Normally, sure, I would want to listen to “my” music – which usually means stuff I bought on Bandcamp or own on vinyl. Stuff I’m committed to and have made conscious and deliberate decisions about.
Right now, I want reasonably interesting (though not overly challenging) mixes of music that I didn’t know I wanted to listen to. My favourite playlists seem to be made of around 60% things I’ve never heard before, 20% songs I’d almost completely forgotten, and another 20% songs I know well but haven’t heard for ages.
Joe Muggs made quite a nice Winter Evening With Wine playlist that’s doing the trick right now. There’s someone who’s made an ever-growing playlist of everything Gilles Peterson has played on his BBC 6Music show, which is handy. Even some of the Spotify out-of-the-box playlists are surprisingly good (though some are predictably terrible).
Some interesting phenomena:
1) there are whole playlists that I absolutely love, but it occurs to me that I would not pay for an album by a single one of the artists;
2) there are some people whose taste in music I really like, but whose playlists completely leave me cold – especially when it comes to their “best of the year” lists;
3) I am currently completely incapable of making a mixtape that I would want to listen to myself, or that I would want someone else to listen to. I tried.
It’s nice to have music curated for you. For all their faults, streaming services allow you to listen to lots of music you might really enjoy, but only really ever want to listen to once or twice, in the right context. Nothing else offers that in quite the same way.
So – I’m back on the Spotify bus for a bit, and I’m enjoying the ride. Perhaps once I come off the industrial strength painkillers, I’ll have different opinions about it. For now, it has exactly the right bedside manner.
I’m after playlist recommendations, of course. Feel free to drop links in the comments or tweet them at me (@dubber).
Do please bear in mind, for the sake of context and to guide your recommendations, that there’s about a foot of snow outside and I’m sitting in an old wooden farmhouse with an open fireplace in a forest in the north of Sweden. I’m quite drowsy, I have pile of pillows at my back and several layers of blankets on top – and I’m not in the mood to get up, get down or wave my hands in the air.
Let’s hear what you’ve got.