Sunday, February 17, 2008

Basia Bulat and the Return of the Headphones

One of the toys I saved my babysitting money for when I was in seventh grade was a Walkman. It took a long time to amass the $33. I read the sales ads every week hoping for a break. Finally, the day came and I had my very own portable music device and it was the toy I was destined to own. As long as I could afford batteries, the Walkman gave me the freedom to listen to music anywhere. Some of the bands I remember listening to specifically on the Walkman in the early days are Bon Jovi (riding across the Nevada desert on the way home from California), Glass Tiger, and Europe. The summer after 7th grade my cousin came to visit and brought with her Sting's Dream of the Blue Turtles. She went to bed and I stayed up listening to it a couple of times. It was a revelation. The next year this guy named Ryan who rode the same bus as me loaned me his Art of Noise tape (In Invisible Silence) and I listened to that on the Walkman a lot, especially since it wasn't necessarily music to Amilynne's ears. (I just got a copy of it on CD, and since it's out of print and not something everyone is looking for it cost about as much as that first Walkman...) When my 9th grade art class kept me up all hours painting, it was Def Leppard, always on the headphones. I remember working on notecards for debate my junior year and in the midst of my cutting and pasting snipping through the cord of the headphones I was plugged in to. I might have been on my second Walkman by then.

With college, music became more social. Why hide in headphones when your roommates were up and everyone wanted to listen along? CDs made it harder to do headphones too--yes, there were portable CD players, I went through several, but they were prone to skipping no matter how well they claimed to be engineered.

Now the MP3s. And I finally joined the ranks of people with an MP3 player. One would think I would have been a little bit earlier of an adapter, but there were things to get into place first--a computer that could handle the volume of music I would need to have available (and the external hard drive because the computers just weren't doing a good job of keeping up). Plus the reality of every day life and the fact that it just wasn't a priority. So the long and short is that now I'm back to running around with music attached, and it brings me to the point of all of this:

There are only two ways to listen to music. One is in the car, and the other is on headphones. I spent some time this summer setting up speakers so that the music on the computer would pump from the den to the kitchen, and I do enjoy that. But the reality is that only in the car and even more so on the headphones are all of the layers balanced to create the music as it should be. And hooray for the MP3 player for bringing me back to all that.

So much so that I just yanked the speakers out of the headphone jack on the computer and put the headphones in. Yesterday I downloaded Basia Bulat's debut album and it is AWESOME, forgive me for saying it like that, but it just is. I've listened to it four or five times, but I just wanted to really hear it, and for that, headphones were the only solution. Hooray! The music just crystallizes differently when the stereo space is your frontal lobe.

So if you would like to try Basia Bulat, her myspace page is here, and you can download some of her songs, and I really suggest In the Night and Little Waltz, and all the rest, maybe you'd want to get the whole thing somewhere, but I'm telling you, you won't really hear it until you plug it the headphones.

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