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The Gen X Shuffle

The Gen X Shuffle

I’ve downloaded my self-proclaimed “eclectic” CD collection onto the computer’s media player; now I have a mystery DJ in the room who tirelessly spins everything from Paul Simon to Phish on a continuous, random play mode.

Usually this is a good thing.

Right now, however, I’m being treated to a live version of Sussudio by Phil Collins — and I have to ask myself what kind of crack I was smoking when I added this shit to my play list. I’m tempted to skip ahead to the next song, but I tell myself I’m going to see Phil’s puffed-air version of the lame 80s tune to its painfully overdue conclusion. Alas; I can’t take it anymore, and fast forward almost all the way to the end. There may be more crack-induced crap to come, but I’ll take my chances.

Don’t get me wrong – I adore most 80s music and find it appealingly nostalgic. After all, the 80s ushered me from girl to woman — age ten to twenty — becoming a soundtrack recording for growing up Gen X.

Boy George really did it for me, I’ll admit, and Ah-ha’s Take on me was the coolest video anyone had ever seen. But I never did like Phil Collins (I was more of a Peter Gabriel girl), and so I look forward to the next song with ever-increasing impatience. I’ll delete it later, I think, wondering how I ever came to own Sussudio in the first place.

Next I hear the opening violins of Selling Out by the Brooklyn Funk Essentials, and it feels like coming in from the cold. Yummy-warm funk meets frenetic sitar, slides into trip-hop, and dances with reggae… all in the groove and just oooooozing cool. I heard this stuff at a friend’s house and immediately asked for the name of the album, which I wrote on my hand so I could run home and buy it online right away. I never tire of the Brooklyn Funk Essentials’ innovative sound, which sounds even better if you’re listening at, say, 4:20.

As if reading my mind, the computer next decides to send some Bob Marley this way, specifically Stir It Up. Now that’s what I call easy listening. Easy like a soft chair and a smile. I’m always up for a Bob Marley tune…probably not fifteen Marley tunes in a row, but then that’s why I use random play.

It’s fun to take note of the strange mix of songs that would never, ever be played back-to-back on any real radio station, anywhere, at any time. Only in my house does The Beastie Boys’ No Sleep Till Brooklyn segue peculiarly into Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here.

I admittedly read too much into the media player’s “random” song order. One time, I wrote song titles on a paper as they played, later attempting to divine some sort of fortune from the resulting message, doubtless sent by aliens or God. Because the Talking Heads’ And She Was played just before Eminem’s Without Me, I assumed my recently deceased friend Gina was dropping by to say hello. When David Byrne’s The Accident preceded Sublime’s Wrong Way, I knew better than to get behind the wheel of a car…at least until I heard Roger Miller’s reassuring King of the Road or Cake’s rousing Race Car Ya-Yas. You can’t be too careful when interpreting the nonexistent significance of haphazard song play.

I suppose I’d better quit identifying all my songs before it becomes blatantly obvious that my music tastes, albeit diverse, are rapidly approaching “geezer” status. My 18-year-old cousin has categorized most of my CDs as “wuss rock” – a term for which I can certainly glean the meaning, but have never heard before and definitely hesitate to embrace.

I prefer to pretend it’s 1991, and the cousin in question is just 6 years old, all wide-eyed at my college-age, too-cool, flannel-clad rebellion. Let me tell you, sonny-boy, those were the days. Now please excuse me while the Pixies scream Debaser and I relive them once again.