I don't listen to them as much as I used to, but I was a huge R.E.M. fan throughout my high school and college years, otherwise known as the '90s. I had all their albums (Up was the last one I bought, and for good reason) and a 2-disc live recording (i.e. bootleg) I have of theirs from a show they did in a cafe in London -- they went by the psuedonym Bingo Handjob for this show -- with superb sound quality remains one of my favorite albums in my collection. Right up there with U2's Achtung Baby which, for those who don't know me, is saying a lot.
That was a really difficult paragraph to read, I apologize.
So I was sitting at my desk last night listening to the "At Work: Chill Out" station on Yahoo's Launchcast music service and I suddenly found myself listening to Michael Stipe's haunting voice. It's unmistakable. Just like there's no confusing Billy Corgan's voice or Layne Staley's -- they're just too damn unique. I checked the player and the song was listed as being by a group called "1 Giant Leap". The song was The Way You Dream. The blurb on the Launchcast website made no mention of Stipe, yet instead said the self-titled album was the result of a musical tour around the world by two musicians I had never heard of. Apparently there's a documentary film to coincide with the project. The group is categorized as making "world music."
My mind once again drifted to John Cusack and Jack Black's attack on Tim Robbins in High Fidelity and I suddenly wished to own a music shop, or a shop of any kind, just so I could tell someone to "get their patchouli stink outta my store."
World music has strong connotations, obviously.
Well, at the risk of having constant Cusack recollections, I downloaded the nearly nine-minute-long The Way You Dream tonight on iTunes and am tempted to get the whole 1 Giant Leap album. Even if Stipe only guest-sings on that one marathon song. Not that I'm a fan of massage music per se, but there is something damn soothing about this group especially when writing. And yes, this statement is based entirely on exposure to the 30-second clips iTunes feels fit to dole out.
But that's a big committment. I usually wait for Launchcast to introduce me to at least two songs on an album before I take the plunge. So, with that said I opted instead to download Jack Johnson's new album, Sleep Through the Static, as well as Death Cab for Cutie's Plans.
My click-and-shop left me feeling sad though for the shopkeeps of yesteryear who no longer have that opportunity to insult their patrons. I felt as if I stole from them the one thing that kept them coming to work every day, their ability to espouse us with their elitist views.
Perhaps iTunes needs to implement a random-insult generator pop-up. Or, better yet, audio-based commentary linked to what you're browsing! It's not enough for them to post their "Staff Favorites" when the potential exists for "Staff Jerks!" How comforting would it be to have snarky, elitist comments lobbed your way through your PC's speakers based on the albums you're previewing? The biggest complaint against shopping online is the lack of the personal experience one gets from shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. This could silence the critics once and for all! Making people feel insulted and uncomfortable in their own home is the final frontier... if only Apple thought bigger!
Alas, it's probably not to be. But at least the fine employees of Gamestop and Electronics Boutique will always be there to fill this void.
And for that, I feel better already.