listening on a spring day

The weather where I live was terrible for a long, long time, months, and only in the last week has it felt like winter is going away for good. Even though it touched 60 degrees today, you could still find a chunk of snow/ice on my back porch, grimly holding on. Why not? The snow and ice won all the rounds from November through March.

But it’s spring, unsteady though it may be, and it felt good to be out and listening.

Radio first: as promised, the Windows phone (HTC 8x) for walking the dogs, because unlike any iPhone and most Android phones, the radio chip inside is turned on. Last summer I carried an iPhone in my pocket, set on “vibrate,” and listened using an iPod Nano. I love the Nano, but wanted to get my carry down to one object. Hence, the Win phone (I like Windows phones anyway).

However, my early results aren’t great. I’m using a set of Koss PortaPros with the phone, and even though the headphone cord made a perfectly good antenna for the Nano (that’s how radio on these small devices works) it’s static-y on the 8x. Not a big deal if I want to listen to the local repeater for the public radio to the south of me at 99.9, but my preferred NPR station, about 60 miles north, cuts out more than I’d like. Plus, using the X Box-whatever-it’s-called to tune stations is peculiar; you swipe through to get to your station of choice, which works well, but it’s too easy to then accidentally change the channel unless you switch away from the radio interface. So I’m not sold, not yet.

Anyway, I got a nice springtime Saturday morning dose of Scott Simon, including an interesting interview about Mahler’s 1st Symphony. I learned that it has a deeply disturbed take on “Frère Jacques” and klezmer music. Take that, John Zorn.

I went out to run errands this afternoon – you’re supposed to change the water filter in your refrigerator every six months, we go four and a half years – and grabbed some dance music for the ride, The Avalanches’ “Since I Left You” and “Bob Blank: The Blank Generation.”  Spent most of my time with the Blank, and of that, the best was an unreleased Sun Ra track, “Where Pathways Meet.”

I didn’t bring music with me while I did yard work; it was dumb, painful labor, stooping and picking up, and music would have just annoyed me. That said, the birds were speaking up, which was nice when I stopped for a break.

And late afternoon, now, Angela Gheorghiu “Live from La Scala.” I’m not much of an opera fan, but I get this – she sings with just piano accompaniment, and stripped down like that, I understand (sorta) why people love this music.

The best news: I’m on vacation and still have four or five hours today in which to lend an ear, and even though I’m always thinking about new music I already have more than enough to keep me occupied for, well, a long time. Bring it on.





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