13 July 2006

iPod: R.i.P. (a very special Five Songs For...)

This is never the image you want to see on your iPod.

This is the image I currently see on mine.

That means I am in the woods of Connecticut without any music. Moreover, when I return to my humble Brooklyn home, I face the possibility of losing over 5,000 songs that I don't have backed up on my computer (which crashed last summer.) And we're not just talking about Whitney Houston remixes here, people. There were some great albums on Watson (that was my iPod's name). Fun, obscure groups like Apples in Stereo and classics like the best of Simon and Garfunkle. Now they're like Wednesday nights on ABC. They're Lost. (Okay, okay. I should sometimes activate my joke censor before I turn into my father.)

So now, ever so humbly, I present to you with a very special "Five Songs For..."


Imagine that you're in the woods of Connecticut with no access to music. What songs are perfect to sing to yourself as you try to keep the hum of insects or the crushing, crushing silence of undeveloped nature at bay? As a person living the experiment, I offer these...

(1) "Theme from the Facts of Life" -- TV themes are perfect for singing as you walk short distances because they can be over just in time for you to go back inside, away from the aforementioned bugs. I find this ditty--cowritten by Alan Thicke of "Growing Pains" fame--to be particularly choice because it doesn't require the vocal chops of, say, "The Jeffersons" yet it has a bouncy melody that lifts the spirits in a similar way.

(2) "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers -- This hit from the film "Benny and Joon" obviously fits the bill because it's about walking, but there's a hidden reward as well...

It's easy to act this song out without seeming insane. You can walk in time to the rhythm and imagine you, too, are walking 500 miles (and walking 500 more) just the be the man who walks a 1,000 miles who falls at someone's door.

And when you're secretly performing, it's hard not to be in good mood.

(3) "Unchained Melody" by The Righteous Brothers -- Few of us may be able to hit all the notes, but is there a better tune to hum as you wander home in the dark? Romance!

(4) "The Lumberjack Song" by Monty Python -- You know the one. "I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay..." Silly sing-songy chants make nice background noise while the rest of your mind focuses on whether it's chilly enough to put on your cute blue zip-up jacket that you got at the Banana Republic outlet near Nyack, NY. (You know the one I mean, right?) And sing-songy chants are better when they're this funny.

(5) You choose! Which songs do you like singing to yourself when you find yourself without earbuds, headphones, or other such things?



At 5:00 PM, Anonymous AdamH said...

RIP, Watson. :( I hope you get him fixed (or get a replacement) soon. I'd be lost without my music.

FYI, there's an Apple store at the Westfarms Mall right outside of Hartford. I don't know if that's close to where you are or not. (I live up in Western MA so I have a slight familiarity with northern central CT.)

At 4:13 AM, Anonymous kalle said...

Hava Nagila (or however it is spelled). Although I usually hum it involuntarily. It just comes into my head and does not leave, sometimes for weeks. And I don't even know what the song is about (I'm not Jewish), but it's a catchy, hummy and whistly tune...

Also, as you said, the Lumberjack Song needs some humming every once and awhile.

Most often I just do different drum and bass lines, while walking or riding my bike. Bhuu-zhii-tah-zidi (dumchigu-dumchigu-dum)... and then my wife tells me to stop (it's irritating).

Too bad your ipod died. That reminded me to make some backups asap.

At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry, Mark. I know somebody who can hook you up with copious quantites of music again -- at least with the likes of Apples in Stereo, if not your LIlith Ladies. You'll have to speak to my friend. His name is ... well let's just call him MOSH for legal reasons.

As for singing-to-yourself songs, I like these.

1. "Hey! It's a Brand New Day!" - Bear, from Playhouse Disney's Breakfast with Bear.

If anybody else is up at 6 am watching the Disney Channel everyday, you know what I mean. The huge Muppet bear? Singing to the preschoolers while they have breakfast together? It's a song with surprising staying power. I'm singing it ALL DAY LONG. (I have a one-year old, and yes, she watches television. I'm going to introduce her to cigarettes at age two. Don't anybody start.)

2. "Break My Stride" -- Matthew Wilder, I believe?

"Nobody's going to break my stride. Nobody's going to slow me down, oh no, I got to keep on moving..." It's an individualist's anthem, and really an ideal walking song for obvious reasons. This used to be my favorite song in second grade, ruthless young individualist that I was.

3. "You Get What You Give" -- New Radicals

I don't know this for a fact, but I feel like surely everyone really likes this song. No? It's just me? Well, fine then, but when I'm walking I like to sing to myself reassuringly: "Don't give up! You've got the music in you! Once dance left! The world is going to pull through!"

I will admit to singing Hava Nagila, too, and I'm not Jewish either.

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Laura B said...

I often find myself making up little sing-songs as if I were five years old. You know, the kind with no actual lyrics ("doo-dee doo-dee-doo-doo!") and an annoyingly repetitive musical structure (second verse! same as the first!).

As for real songs, maybe "Leaving on a Jetplane." I'm currently obsessed with this song--in its Peter, Paul & Mary incarnation, not the John Denver original.

At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Adam said...

Hey Mark! Craig says this EXACt thing happened to his ipod and that he learned from a online message board that the best thing to do---the only thing to do, because it's otherwise dead---is to to take it and literally "SMASH it a couple of times on its left side nice and hard...way too hard...harder than you think you think you should smash an ipod and it may very likely come back to life." ESPECIALLY if you hear a clicking sound before you try to turn it on. "I've passed this info on to friends whose ipods have died and have had an almost 100% success rate after they tried to smash it." Let us know if that worked! Hope you're having fun at the O'Neill. My friend and former classmate Darren Canady is in the playwriting program there... not sure if you interact. Fondly, Adam & Craig

At 12:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

O.K. I was at a restaurant last night and heard a fellow diner casually say, "It's hot in here. So, take off all my clothes". Which, technically, we all know she misquoted, but since she was applying the lyrics to herself, we'll let her slide. So, with this being said, I must admit that I often sing this little Nelly ditty to myself.

Also, I feel that is now socially acceptable to admit that I, too, sing the "Breakfast with Bear" song all day long. Playhouse Disney is my bitch!

At 2:31 PM, Blogger Dan&Diane said...

Hey, in case you all think Adam is crazy, there is proof that this works for iPods! This website describes the proper method to propel your iPod to the floor and possibly resuscitate "Watson". (By the way I've named both of my iPods too).


For the topic, I personally love the teme to the Muppet Show to put me in a good mood.

And, say hi to Andrew. My wife and I were good friends of Andrews in college and we're glad to see he's found some great people in NYC.

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