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My most recent single release - "My True North" - is now available on Bandcamp. Open my profile and click on "audio clip".

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Musical Purgatory/Lyrical Epiphany

If you listen to Internet radio, which service best serves your listening needs most of the time?

Largely because I haven't ventured far from where I've lived since early January, Amazon music - the service set up in this house - has been my main musical diet for over two months. If this Internet music provider happens to be your preferred source - and you're happy with it - best to skip at least the next paragraph. I miss Pandora desperately and can't wait to escape my current musical purgatory.

Yes, I know if I'd made a small effort, it could have been easy to switch to Pandora for the time I would be living here. But until last night - on the drive to/from my home, listening to Pandora - I didn't fully realize how subpar Amazon music is. The song selections - no matter how I phrase my request to Alexa (by year, artist, genre) - are repetitive and unimaginative in the extreme. Often, the same overplayed song appears in a cycle, no matter my request. For example, requesting either "Music from the Seventies" or "Elton John", invariably dredges up Dreams - that obnoxious Fleetwood Mac two chord drone - within a few tunes. Worse, any request for music from the 70s also serves up at least two AC/DC screeches - usually the same bad songs - which is one or two too many. I could go on, believe me; it's been semi-torturous. 

On the other hand, the scrolling screen of lyrics that accompanies Amazon Music via Alexa has delivered a lyrical epiphany. Working assiduously at writing my own lyrics for fifty years has taught me who the great models are - Jackson Browne, Don Henley & Glenn Frey, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Stephen Sondheim. And when a nugget from Desperado - "You better let somebody love you before it's too late" - is followed seconds later on the same screen by nonsensical tripe, I am again reminded how important it is to continually work on my craft.

If good lyrics thrill you - and inane ones annoy you - and you use Amazon, let me suggest you switch off the scrolling Alexa screen for most of the time. Might give you more pleasure enjoying the music or feel of songs you love - even overplayed ones - without seeing lyrics accompanying those same songs. Trust me on this.  


  1. Hello, Pat. Interesting subject. Internet radio has certainly taken off over the years. My wife and I both have Sirius/XM radio in our cars. And the subscriptions allow for internet access. With additional channels. Wow !!!
    As Amazon Prime members we also have access to Amazon Music. However, our Alexa units are very quick to remind us that we do not have access to the 'Unlimited' music option. But for just an additional $7.99 a month Alexa will add it to my subscription at that very moment.
    No thank you. I believe we have enough.
    I was honestly not aware scrolling lyrics was available. I guess I need to pay more attention to Alexa. I mean, as long as she's paying more than enough attention to what I listen to and order, its only fair. But I do have to agree with the very limited song selections and, as you accurately phrased it, repetitive song choices.
    We still listen to commercial radio. Classic Rock stations from Philly and NY are usually playing on the kitchen radio. Even with the endless commercials it's worth listening to sometimes.
    And I agree with the artists you've listed as being some of the great lyricists but, and please don't think less of me, I do like some songs from AC/DC. I'm not a fan of heavy metal music. Maybe a song here and there. But I admit to turning up the volume in my car when Back In Black, Highway To Hell, or Dirty Deeds comes on the radio. A nostalgic trip back to the 70's perhaps. I may have even been cool back then - lol.
    Be well, Pat

    1. RRGRMG; Thanks for the comment. And I would never think "less of .." anyone for enjoying music that doesn't work for me. If only Amazon - at least for the remaining time I'm staying in the house I'm living in now - would consider playing just a few different songs. Oh well.

  2. Interesting topic, all this streaming music business. When I'm out shopping I play a game of musical anthropology. When I hear something playing in store that I can't identify, I take out my trusty cell phone, pull up the Sound Hound app (free version) and have it "listen" to the music. Sometimes I discover interesting little gems. Example: Ronnie Raitt covering INXS's "Need You Tonight". A very tasty version indeed. The original is a great 80's staple. Thanks again, Pat for cool topic.

    1. Steve; You're welcome; thanks for commenting. A few years back I published a post called "Pat Shabazz" that be-moaned the fact that my (once-upon-a-time) "valuable" musical skill of identifying those "..interesting little gems.." had become obsolete because of apps like Shabazz, which, as it turns out, does the same thing Sound Hound does. Bummer that my esoteric claim to fame has been obliterated by these apps.