I'm stating the obvious here, but the shuffle feature on the iPod might be the greatest invention of all time. How many times have you been listening to music on your iPod or iPhone or whatever you have, when something comes on that you love, but haven't heard in so long that you've actually forgotten who the artist is? Or maybe you remember, but just haven't heard it in a long time. Happens to me all the time, and I love it because those moments take me back to a period of time when I was really into a particular band or album, and all the associated memories that go with it, wanted or not.
The other night I was sitting in my living room reading when all of a sudden "Best Deceptions" by Dashboard Confessional came on. I'm man enough to admit that I was once really into that album. Hearing that song took me back to when I was hosting a new music show on 99X, and Chris Carrabba, who was virtually unknown at the time, came up to play new songs from his forthcoming album live on my show. No matter how cool or uncool you think Dashboard is, it was a great experience for me as a music junkie and fan at the time.
When Best Deceptions was over, Parachutes by Coldplay came on and I was immediately taken back to the time when Chris Martin came by the station during their first US tour in support of their debut album of the same name. They had just played a radio festival in Washington DC the night before, and were super bummed out because for some reason they were on the same bill as Marilyn Manson, and in fact went on right before Manson did, and they got bottled by the crowd. Chris was telling me off air that they were so upset about the show that they considered calling it quits. Later that night they played a sold out Tabernacle. The crowd was so into them that Chris later said (in a separate interview) that that show basically saved their band.
Next came Morning Bell from Radiohead's Kid A album. I was reminded of the time my friend Iain and I flew to New York to see them play the relatively small Roseland Ballroom the week Kid A went on sale. One of the best shows I've ever seen in my life–wow, just wow.
Then there are the songs that pop up that bring back memories of frustration. Perhaps it's a band I wanted to sign to my label years before, but couldn't because my boss wasn't feeling it. Those are the worst because I usually spend an enormous amount of time with the music as well as the artist themselves before taking it to my boss, so it makes it all the harder when I get the big N-O from him. In this case it was "The Garden" by Joshua James, a singer-songwriter from Salt Lake City. I really felt we should sign him; great songs, great live show etc, but I couldn't get it done. Bummed me out for a while, but so it goes.
So the next time you're loading songs into your player, just know that you're loading in memories with them, and for better or worse they will cycle back around years from now the minute you hit "shuffle".