Potentially Shamed By The Shuffle

By Heather B. Armstrong

I thought it would be an interesting first assignment to set my iPod to shuffle to see what I could say about the first ten songs that came up if only because the shuffle setting is the one function of any music player that I could do without. I never trust my iPod as a DJ because it will inevitably throw up thirty songs in a row that I didn’t know I had in my collection and instead of feeling pleasantly surprised all I feel is embarrassed.
I am the type of person who cannot buy the one or two songs I like from an album but instead has to buy the entire album because there is a very small but wildly irrational part of me that is afraid I might hurt someone’s feelings. It’s the same part of me that as a child required that I give equal attention to all my stuffed animals — half of them slept with me one night, the other half slept with me the next night, and the rotation continued from there so that none of them felt slighted. You could see how someone like me might be very good at a fanatical religion.
At first I thought it might be more challenging to set my husband’s iPod to shuffle, but then I realized the rest of this essay would read, “Had I known this was on his iPod I might not have agreed to have his baby.” Although we each own an iPod we use them for very different reasons: I use mine only when I workout whereas he uses his only every waking moment. Our respective music collections vary because of this difference but more so because he is ten years older than I am and can listen to jazz with a straight face.
To make this as adventurous as possible I’m going to set some ground rules. One, I can’t skip a song because I don’t like it or haven’t ever heard it. Two, rule number one is totally optional.
First song: “Gigantic” by the Pixies
Ah ha! I know this one! This is the first song I ever heard by the Pixies, and I was immediately drawn to the bass line because I could feel it in the back of my mouth. I discovered this song toward the end of college as my taste in music shifted symbolically away from melodic pop toward noisy guitar feedback. Kim Deal’s voice was the perfect blend of raw energy and abandon, and at that turning point in my life I really thought this sound signified everything: sweat! and sex! and booze! Turns out it signified marriage.
Second song: “Linus and Lucy” by Vince Guaraldi Trio (from A Charlie Brown Christmas)
Did I say that I work out while listening to my iPod? What I meant to say was that I listen to my iPod while embroidering handkerchiefs and admiring my collection of ceramic Richard Nixon heads.
Third song: Already one I’ve never heard.
Who is this anyway? The Band? What insufferable person names his band The Band? I bet he’s the type of person who when hungry says things like, “Time to feed The Mouth.”
Fourth song: “The National Anthem” by Radiohead
Only my favorite song. This is a masterpiece of almost excruciating noise that borders on being an utter piece of crap, but because it doesn’t go over that line, because it teeters right there and resists falling over that edge, it is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. When my friends find out that this song is the one song I like above all others they tend to reassess their relationship with me and where I was once someone they would let borrow their car I am now someone they’d like to bludgeon with a shovel.
Fifth song:

Heather B. Armstrong
About the Author

Heather B. Armstrong

Heather B. Armstrong was a regular contributor writing about pop culture for us at Dooce Plugs In. You can read her daily at her blog Dooce.


Heather B. Armstrong was a regular contributor writing about pop culture for us at Dooce Plugs In. You can read her daily at her blog Dooce.

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