It is not actually a CD changer. I long ago traded up to the world digital technology, using either my beloved 160GB iPod Classic or the laptop I am using to type this piece. The spirit is the same, however. The playlist I titled “CD Changer” is the collection of albums, EPs, and other music I have most recently discovered or, for whatever reason, has found a place back into my active playlist. This is the default listen when I am not seeking out a specific song or artist, the go-to source that takes the place for me of commercial radio or digital streaming.
Though the idea is to occasionally purge the playlist, moving out one well-worn album to make space for a new one, the digital freedom of virtually unlimited space often leads to a monster. As of now, the list that was emptied at the beginning of the year contains no less than 28 albums, over 400 songs, and a literal day of unrepeated listening. One could say 2016 has been a good year for my listening pleasure.
A number of titles were acquired this past holiday season, albums long on my wishlist that family and friends so graciously help me taper down at each year's end. This includes my most recent attempts to fill out my Bruce Springsteen catalog, with the long missing “Nebraska” album and The Boss's tribute to Pete Seeger, folk music and the Americana tradition, “We Shall Overcome”. Bettye Lavette's “Thankful N' Thoughtful”, has a home there as well, another example of her skillful soul once ignored in the MoTown era, but brought to light in recent decades.
As a writer, blogger, and podcaster, I receive my fair share of digital submissions that make their way into the “Changer.” The odd rock sounds of Idiot Glee's self-titled roguish and mirthful LP have led to more than one embarrassing “caught singing at the stoplight” moment. Ellis William's activating jazz-rock effort, “Call To Battle”, is a definite listen when I don my headphones. Midwest Soul Xchange's elevated, atmospheric roots-rock album “New American Century” is still getting plays. Try as I might, I cannot yet bring myself to move indie rockers Deep Sea Diver's latest, “Secrets”, down the playlist line.
I recently attended a show at South Bend's McCormick's Coney Island Bar so I could catch one of our great local bands, The Rutabega. I was sure to attend early to catch all of the opening musicians because, as I publicly stated prior to the show, “the other bands should be awesome too...I know this because Joshua (of The Rutabega) told me and he wouldn't lie.” As usual, he delivered, bringing together a collection of excellent acts including South Bend's Infinite Buffalo, the North Carolinians Maple Stave, and Kalamazoo's Jake Simmons & The Little Ghosts. I came home from the show with pockets stuffed with new music. JSTLG's “No Better”, in particular, has had no shortage of rounds of listening.
It is just the beginning of Spring and the options are overwhelming. I look soon to add the anticipated solo debut from former Fifth On The Floor frontman, Justin Wells. The Flobots, are working diligently on their two-album release funded by fans and fueled their activist and community oriented energies. This past weekend, Grand Rapids The Crane Wives delivered the latest in their catalog of indie-folk rock. I am still digging my way through NPR's “The Austin 100”, a collection of some of the best in unknown and up-and-coming music to come out of the recent South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.
With over 24 hours of listening, I have hardly touched the contents of the “CD Changer”. We exist in an ever-connected age of art and music, with creators given renewed freedom to experiment and share, so the list is only to grow. Whether you are a maker or a listener, tell me what you are listening to in 2016 by emailing me at contact@anywheretheneedledrops or Tweeting at #AtNDPlaylist.