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making the cut
like pulling the plug, but with less government interference
by adam kraemer (@DryWryBred)
5.9.12
music

This past weekend, I was forced to make one of the hardest decisions any of us will ever have to make in our lifetimes.

I had to delete about 100 songs from my mp3 player.

Well, that's not entirely true. I had to replace my mp3 player (a Sony), which died on Friday, and it turned out that the new one, while technically holding the same capacity as the old one (8 gigs), held about 100 fewer songs. I think this is because the new player is bluetooth compatible while the old one was not, but it could also be because the universe occasionally likes to laugh at me.

When I went to Best Buy Friday after work, I was faced, actually, with my first choice - do I buy the same size player that I'd had or do I upgrade to twice the capacity? Here's the thing - for me, at least, having a 16 gig player means, among other things, having an extra 8 gigs to add songs that didn't make the cut when I was originally filling up my first one. So, yes, that meant adding some songs I would have wanted to listen to, but mostly it meant diluting a collection filled to the brim only with music I truly wanted to listen to. I mean, Billy Joel's "You're My Home" is an okay song, but I can't say I had been missing it while listening on the train or on my walks home from work.

I'm going to pause here and mention that my personal jury's still out on whether it was brilliant or stupid of Sony to go back to the Walkman name when they switched from their "Discman," a device so popular it became the generic name for every other portable compact disc player, much in the way their original Walkman had. I'm leaning toward stupid, largely because I admit to feeling like a schmuck every time I tell someone my Walkman broke. Answer #1 on the board: "When, in 1988?"

(Technically, Sony's calling them the "MP3 Walkman," but it's still hard for me to say without blushing.)

Regardless, choice number one at Best Buy, as I mentioned, was a 16 gigabyte player (also a Walkman), but that had drawbacks, like I said. Choice number two was a comparably priced 8 gigabyte player - essentially the one that had just died on me, but with bluetooth capacity, which meant not having to fumble with wires while wearing it on my walks or at the gym or whatever. It also meant, however, that I'd have to keep my bluetooth headset charged regularly, unlike a normal pair of headphones, which tends to react badly when you plug it into stuff. It also meant that I knew I'd be filling the player up to capacity, since my previous Walkman maybe had room for three more files on it when it died.

Luckily (maybe) the decision was actually taken out of my hands when it turned out the store was sold out of the 16 gig version. "Well, that solves that problem," I thought to myself.

The end.

Kidding. Anyway, I bought the 8 gig, paired it with my headphones, and, yes, it's a very cool feature. I can leave the player in my bag, or on the arm-strappy thingy (I think that's what the catalog called it), and control volume, play, pause, etc. via the headset. Given, most smartphones have had the ability to do the same thing for the last two years, but no one ever advertizes, "It's the wave of the present."

And then tragedy struck. I was copying my mp3s over from my computer. I'd split them down the middle of the alphabet, figuring if something was wrong with the player, at least I'd only have to wait for A-M, rather than A-Z. And A-M went off without a hitch. Actually, it went off with two hitches, Green Day's "Hitching a Ride" and Boston's "Hitch a Ride," but maybe I'm being too literal.

However, after setting up the migration of N-Z and walking away from my computer for what I figured was the appropriate amount of time (I like to give my computer privacy when it's uploading), I returned, only to find out that my Walkman was full and the song titles only went from A-U. That's right. No "You Shook Me." No "Zoot Suit Riot." No Vivaldi!

This would not stand.

Hence the hard choices. How does one weigh the inherent value of a song against another? Do the songs I chose to keep mean that I like all of them better than the ones I dropped? Do I perfer, say, Meat Loaf's "Heaven Can Wait" less than, say, Cornershop's "Brimful of Asha," or do I judge by scarcity - I already have a ton of Meat Loaf on there and couldn't even try to name another Cornershop song.

Actually, in this particular case, yes, I do like the latter more than the former, but that's not the point.

Do I get rid of one version of the Beatles' "Revolution," and, if so, which one - I like them both and they're so different. Do I lose Jimmy Cliff's version of "Trapped" in favor of Springsteen's cover of it? Do I keep them both and get rid of Kiss' "Heaven's on Fire."

Okay, well, yes, to that, too.

What about the embarrassing songs that I like anyway? How do I decide between something from Grease or something from Rocky Horror? Or do I keep them both and lose something by Snow? It's a 5-piece conundrum kit, if you ask me.

In the end, I think it just came down to the question, "What can I live without?" What songs will I be okay with to not have immediately at hand? I think that makes sense. You're all still laughing that I own more than one song by Snow, aren't you?

But I do recommend trying it some time. Sit down and just clean off your mp3 player, your phone, whatever portable music you carry with you. It took me two passes, I believe, until I was able to fit all the W songs I wanted (Where, Why, When, Who), and another two to finally fit all the Y's (You, You're, Yellow).

But I gotta tell you, I haven't skipped a single track since. Robert Frost was wrong. They're all gold and they're not going anywhere.

Unless I get some other songs that I like more.


ABOUT ADAM KRAEMER

A native of Elkins Park, PA, Adam Kraemer spends way too much of his time repeating "K-R-A-E..." He moved to New York City in 1998 and earned Master's in Journalism at NYU; don't let his writing fool you. He feels he is best known for saying the things no one is thinking, but afterwards wish they had been. He spends his free time wondering where all his free time goes and why he can never come up with a decent kicker for the ends of his articles.

more about adam kraemer

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