Shuffle mode and the joy of discovery

Not to get all sentimental on you, but it is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world when you find a new song.  It really is. When something catches my ear, it can take over my whole consciousness. The rest of the world recedes a bit when I hear the right song for the first time. What is the right song? Well, it is always changing. But I know it when I hear it.

The other day the right song was “Where Do I Begin” from 1997’s Dig Your Own Hole by the Chemical Brothers. It popped up on shuffle mode in the car when we were driving home from somewhere. Despite being downloaded in to our car’s hard drive and the fact that my husband has owned the album for over a decade, I had never heard this one before. The random whimsy of shuffle mode brought it to the surface. And it was definitely the right song at that moment.

So out of character with the few of their songs I’d heard before, it starts out quietly. No trace of their big beat electronic sound, just a slightly distorted guitar riff on repeat and Beth Orton’s voice softly singing.

“Sunday morning I’m waking up/Can’t even focus on a coffee cup/Don’t even know whose bed I’m in/Where do I start?/Where do I begin?”

As it progresses additional layers are added to the mix. The simple song becomes complex and in time, it becomes whole. I love songs that use this method of construction and deconstruction for this very reason. When they hit that sweet spot, something inside me just… resonates. It is hard to describe, but to be honest it is a moment I live for. I don’t take drugs and these days I rarely drink. Instead I have this…

The song eventually falls apart, all those layers begin to fade and are replaced by a grinding mechanical distortion. But those lyrics stay with me for hours and days afterwards. Sadly, the high doesn’t usually come back with repeated listening as all drugs lose their effect over time. I still love the song and am now anxious to hear the whole album. And I will enjoy it. This song will always feel special because of that connection I made. But it will never be the same. Not really.

So… what are you listening to?

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3 responses to “Shuffle mode and the joy of discovery

  1. The word you’re looking for is “soundgasm.” That’s what I call that feeling of listening to a song and having it resonate. I recently re-found a song that did that for me my first year of undergrad. I still love it, but it doens’t get me in quite the same way it did 9.5 years ago when I heard it for the first time in my dorm room.

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