Sunday, October 8, 2017

Spotify Radio | Lefsetz Letter

It’s far better than Pandora, and most people don’t even know it exists!

And the point of this article is machines are better than humans, for all of Apple’s human curation I far prefer Spotify’s algorithms, as for Pandora, the tuneouts are excruciating, why in hell do they think I like x if I like y? Furthermore, Pandora is limited in scope, not every track is included, so you can’t build a station on an obscure act, never mind an obscure song.

That’s right, you can build a station on Spotify with a song. And what is played…

Will warm your heart.

New music discovery is complicated, especially if you’re already old. The truth is you’d rather hear what’s familiar than what’s unknown, unless it’s an instant get, which it rarely is, but I did hear a pretty good David Crosby cut from his last album on Spotify radio, as a matter of fact, it’s playing right now, it’s called “Sell Me A Diamond,” I’m not sure it bears twenty repeats, but it sounds like Crosby, and it’s not dated, it’s new, at least it’s new to me!

But it’s the old cuts that are revelatory. I just heard Jimmy Buffett’s “Son Of A Son Of A Sailor,” which is not his best cut, that’s “A Pirate Looks At Forty,” but it followed up his breakthrough “Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes,” with “Margaritaville,” but my Tallahassee lassie turned me on to Jimmy and “Son Of A Son Of A Sailor” was the first album I bought and I immediately became enraptured with the title cut, the opening cut on side one, and there’s this one part that closes me:

Haul the sheet in as we ride on the wind that our
Forefathers harnessed before us
Hear the bells ring as the tight rigging sings
It’s a son of a gun of a chorus

And on the subsequent live album, 1978’s “You Had To Be There,” which also opens with this same song, Jimmy references his broken leg and it’s these strayings from the norm that stay in your head.

And I’ve got a bit of sailing under my belt, nothing like Jimmy’s, I’ve never even been overnight, but what I love about being out on the ocean is you’re out of cell range. Last night I went to see Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings and while they were playing their acoustic music it reminded me of the seventies, when this was the only place you could get this experience, live in concert, when the whole world wasn’t networked, when you never really miss anything, since it’s on YouTube, when you’re never really lonely since you can connect with your friends instantly on your mobile device, and I don’t want to give up the future but something is always lost in advancement, in this case that solitary existence away from the fray, when it was just you and the experience, undocumented, you bask in it and I miss it.

And last night on Spotify radio I heard Traffic’s “Rainmaker,” which brought me back to when I bought the album, when Traffic was cruising the hit parade.

And I heard my favorite Lyle Lovett song “Bears,” and this is how you do it:

Fire up the Spotify app on your mobile.

Click the “Radio” button on the bottom, it’s the second from the right.

And when you do this you’ll find “Your Daily Mix” and previous stations and “Recommended Stations,” but skip all those. Click on that + icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen/app, and in the search box that comes up type in a band or a song and when the results come up click on the + button to the right of one and voila, you’ve built a station, which then starts to play, and what’s marvelous, if you’re a Premium customer you can skip as much as you want, even go back, and there’s a list of what’s going to be played next but I try not to look at that so I can be surprised.


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