Posted in Music

Chilling in the dark with my iPod Classic

As part of my daily routine, I usually log off of my computer by 10:00 pm and spend the next hour getting ready for rest. This means reclining for a couple of end-of-day relaxing activities: checking into a couple of mobile games to get daily stuff, doing some light reading, and watching a 20-minute episode of whatever sitcom series I’m going through. And, as of late, some time huddled up in the dark listening to my playlists on my iPod.

I never really was one of “those people” who had to listen to music to fall asleep. But there is something very soothing about descending into a musical cocoon late at night where you stop thinking and simply absorb and experience. My core playlist is up to 6,200 songs — a list I’ve been curating since 1999 — and due to its size, I don’t hear some of these songs for months if not longer on shuffle. It’s always pleasant rediscoveries of tunes that I like or liked for various reasons, from the dorky to the head-banging hits to everything in-between.

There are a lot of ways that I experience music these days. Sometimes it’s from my computer speakers or CD player or Alexa or car stereo — filling up a room but not pressed against my ears. Sometimes I don headphones for computer-fed music, but even that is with open-backed headphones to keep me from getting headaches and feeling constricted. But there’s something different and intentional when I boot up my iPod for a listening session.

Usually when I do that, it is to block out the world. I only want to hear the music and nothing else. I need to get swept up in the emotional journey and perhaps siphon off some of my frustration, stress, or anxiety of a long day. There really isn’t much to fiddle with when you’re handling an older iPod, so it doesn’t become this multitasking distraction machine. Rather, it retrains me to simplify and focus. Try to find a song that fits my temperament.

It’s silly, but one of my wish list items for this year is to buy a second refurbished iPod Classic. The one I have has a new battery but the old physical hard drive, and I worry that it will one day fail. I’d like to get a redundancy that also has flash storage in it. Honestly, I miss my old 160 GB Classic that I donated to my mom when I decided that the iPhone was the ultimate replacement device. But this isn’t a pressing priority.

But I will say that any time I use my iPod or my CD stereo, I feel like I’m appreciating music on a level I hadn’t been for a while. I’m thinking more about music, learning more about particular bands, and spending the odd research session looking into trends and musical eras. Maybe this is my brand of midlife crisis?

Posted in World of Warcraft, Podcast, Music

Battle Bards Episode 222: World of Warcraft Dragonflight

Episode 222: World of Warcraft Dragonflight Battle Bards

Will our fascination with giant, skyfaring, flame-belching lizards subside? World of Warcraft bets not, as it's currently soaring through its Dragonflight expansion. Will the music also ascend to lofty realms or fall to the earth with a dud? You'll have to listen to the Battle Bards as they figure out the answer to that question! Episode 222 show notes  Intro (feat. "The Dragon's Hoard," "Riverbends," and "The Isles Awaken") "Take to the Skies" "Giants of the Span" "Windsong" "Tyrhold" "Ramparts of Valdrakken" "Gardens of Unity" Which one did we like best? Listener Notes: George and Bullwraith Jukebox Picks: "Encounter Elite" from Sea of Stars, "Jubilife Village Theme" from Pokemon Legends Arceus, and "Density" from Citizen Sleeper Outro (feat. "Life Pools") Talk to the Battle Bards on Twitter! Follow Battle Bards on iTunes, Stitcher, Player.FM, Google Play, iHeartRadio, and Pocket Casts! This podcast is produced using copyrighted material according to Fair Use practices as stated under Section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act.
  1. Episode 222: World of Warcraft Dragonflight
  2. Episode 221: LOTRO Before the Shadow
  3. Episode 220: Guild Wars 2 End of Dragons

Will our fascination with giant, skyfaring, flame-belching lizards subside? World of Warcraft bets not, as it’s currently soaring through its Dragonflight expansion. Will the music also ascend to lofty realms or fall to the earth with a dud? You’ll have to listen to the Battle Bards as they figure out the answer to that question!

Episode 222 show notes (show pagedirect download)

  • Intro (feat. “The Dragon’s Hoard,” “Riverbends,” and “The Isles Awaken”)
  • “Take to the Skies”
  • “Giants of the Span”
  • “Windsong”
  • “Tyrhold”
  • “Ramparts of Valdrakken”
  • “Gardens of Unity”
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Listener Notes: George and Bullwraith
  • Jukebox Picks: “Encounter Elite” from Sea of Stars, “Jubilife Village Theme” from Pokemon Legends Arceus, and “Density” from Citizen Sleeper
  • Outro (feat. “Life Pools”)
Posted in Music

Rediscovering the joys of CD collecting

After the digital music revolution of the early 2000s and the iPods that quickly took over afterward, I reasonably thought that my time with CDs was at an end. I stopped buying them and started to lose the ones I already had — including a memorable day in 2001 when my car was broken into and my stereo and two CD books were stolen. All of my remainders ended up in storage, and I didn’t really look back from going in the direction of MP3 collecting.

Yet now I have this parallel collection that’s taking place with my decision late last year to start venturing into CD collecting once again. The idea of a project and a collection coming together was irresistible, and the current price point for used CDs made it affordable. And now that I know a lot more about music than I did back in the day, I’m able to zero in on the albums and artists I want.

My first step was to dig out all of my old CD books and sort through them. I had a lot of trash that needed to go — albums I will never listen to again, junk CD compilations, doubles, and so on. I condensed all of my “must keeps” down to a single book and then got started with growing my collection again.

For this, I’ve mostly been visiting thrift stores when I’m in the neighborhood and making a visit every week or two to the CD reseller shop that’s literally around the corner from my work. In short order, I’ve added 50 albums to my collection (that I’d actually listen to) and started to fill out a bookshelf in my office with them. This hobby will also give me more of a reason to go garage saling with my wife this spring.

But then came the sticking point of not actually owning any sort of CD player. I think you’ll agree this makes it hard to appreciate albums in their fullness. I did pick up a cheap boombox for a little while there, but the sound quality was so weak and tinny that I knew it couldn’t stand. So I started to do a lot of research into a full stereo that’d be affordable.

The above is what I settled on. It’s a VW car stereo that this company repurposed into these beautiful all-in-one units. There are five speakers, a remote, USB, and bluetooth. And the sound is *chef’s kiss* perfect. Very full. I’ve been enjoying a new album or two every day as I work, and it’s like I’m dwelling in a bit of a ’90s alt rock bubble. My only complaint is that there isn’t a headphone jack (this being a car stereo), so it’s full room sound or nothing.

Anyway, collecting physical music has been a lot more fun than I’d anticipated — and a great way to reclaim something from the past I had lost along the way.