Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

My Playlists

Over the course of years, I’ve changed music players, I’ve changed computers, but I haven’t changed my playlists. If anything, I’ve created more. Under last count, I have fewer than one hundred playlists. Now, you might wonder what these playlists do. Come into my Freedom Friday parlor said the author to the reader.

Musical notes
Musical notes

For those who haven’t used playlists before, they provide a music enthusiast a means by which to create a song lineup. That’s it. Simple, don’t you think? Playlists are the digital equivalent of old-style mixtape. For those of us who remember mixtapes, much of their content depended on how much music we could fit in a small cassette tape. The typical size of these tapes ranged between sixty to ninety minutes in length. Many of the older vinyl albums the music corporations distributed had a typical running time of forty-five minutes.

A lot of folks back in the early days of portable players would copy their favorite album on tape and then carry around the tape to play in their car or on their Walkman. Yeah, we’re talking ancient history here. Others had more creativity in their bones and wanted to create their own tapes based on their taste in music. They scrounge from one album to the next to cherry-pick the song they always wanted to hear in a certain order. These tapes would then make the rounds among friends and become part of a community of enthusiasts appreciating each other’s work.

Fascinating stuff, huh?

Let’s get back to my playlists. When I first discovered I could create mixtapes on my music player—I mean, playlists—I went nuts. I chose my favorite artists and added them to their own playlists based on the chronological release date of their studio albums. I can’t tell you how much I had wanted to do that since the early days. I enjoy the continuity the playlists have and the vibe. After all, we’re talking about the artists’ discography presented in a way never dreamed of before by the record labels.

Musical staff
Musical staff

I next tackled mixtape playlists. I know what you’re thinking, “I thought you did that with the chronological ones, dude.” Well, I did, but I didn’t. Remember what I said about mixtapes? I picked a generous helping of songs with common themes. For instance, I created inspirational playlists, power playlists, college playlists. Each one reflecting what I felt at a certain time in my life. I’m proud of the college one the most since it contains modern instrumental pieces tailored after a sunrise/sunset vibe.

My absolute favorite playlist, and the one I took a long time to put together, is the oldies playlist. The songs come from a pool of 50’s and 60’s music put together to play at random on a Saturday night. When I first got married, a radio station in Toronto played nothing but oldies on a Saturday night. If I remember correctly, the show went by the name of Saturday Night Oldies. I think it’s still around, but I haven’t checked in a while. Anyway, I wanted to recreate that experience on my music player. Whenever I listen to the lineup on a Saturday night, all those memories flood my brain:

  • That night when we painted our new apartment before moving in
  • All the rides home alone after spending time together
  • Driving her home from the movies

I never tire by what music can do. A simple song can unlock a vast wealth of experiences we thought we’d forgotten. It can make us jump, it can make us cry. One thing’s for certain, it can take us right back to where we were the instant it played for the first time in our lives. That, in itself, is an amazing feat.


Have you created playlists for your music player? If not, have you ever tried online jukeboxes built on your song preferences?

Posted in Freedom Friday

The Eighties

I grew up in the Eighties when the kids wore bright pastel colors, listened to music that had a happy vibe, and the girls wore outfits with shoulder pads as the de facto fashion statement. Our hair was tall and our walk was light. We didn’t have to worry about texting, messaging, blogging, skyping, tweeting, facebooking or pinning. We led simple lives and had simple dreams. I didn’t have Freedom Friday to write about this.

The Police
The Police

If we wanted to talk with anyone, we’d call them on the phone, land lines no less. If we wanted to have a more substantial conversation, we’d meet for coffee, sometimes until two or three in the morning. Our yes was yes and our no was no. Our principles meant something.

There was also an unwritten rule: take a penny, leave a penny. If you worked in a gas station in Canada, you already know what I mean. A little tray sat on the counter next to the register, sometimes empty, sometimes filled. If you needed a penny, you simply take one from the tray. If you had one or two to dump, place them in the tray. Some gas stations still have them to this day.

Our Christmases were easy to digest. There were no iPods, iPads, tablets, Kindles or Kobos. We’d received books, cassettes, CDs for gifts. The most we’d splurge on was the Sony Walkman. Tops.

Buying books cost a small fortune at the time. Luckily, I worked in a library giving me the ability to read newly released books for free.

We purchased our music on cassette tapes. If we really liked the album, we’d purchase it as a special edition chrome or metal tape. Many of my friends made a fuss over the quality of normal and chrome bias tapes. I could never hear the difference. Besides, LPs sounded better.

Culture Club's Boy George
Culture Club’s Boy George

Some of the bands that were hot were The Police (the hardest working band of the early Eighties and my favorite), Utravox, J. Geils Band, Culture ClubDuran Duran (incredibly hot), and Bobby McFerrin. Our anthem in our neighborhood was Sunshine Raggae by Laid Back. The radio was what brought us together and the concerts were what made our summers.

We wore baggy pants at the thighs with belt buckles that nearly covered our belly buttons. Our shoes were practical, designed to slip off easily.

Everything was expensive. For a student, it took so much to save for anything, but when we finally purchased it, we appreciated it more. At least the movies were cheap. Four people could go to a matinee for under twenty dollars. Unbelievable, isn’t it?

I suppose the best part about the Eighties was knowing we had our whole life ahead of us. Not much different from what it is today for those growing up.


If you lived through the Eighties, what is your favorite part?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Today’s Technology

Here we are again, Freedom Friday. If you’re joining this series for the first time, you can search for all the posts by simply clicking on the Freedom Friday link above this post. For those who need a refresher, I use Freedom Friday to express my views about what’s current, what’s not or anything else that may trickle into this brain of mine at the time of writing.

27-Inch Hitachi Tube TV
27-Inch Hitachi Tube TV

At this moment, I’m thinking technology. In particular, I’m thinking about how far technology has come from the good ol’ days when a large 27-inch TV and a VCR dominated our entertainment centers. Anyone remember this? For some of us, we had two VCRs—one for recording and one to watch recordings. It made for a simplistic life, but much of what the 80’s had, delved on simplistic.

We cherished those cold, winter evenings when we got back home from work, prepared a warm soup for dinner and plopped on the couch to watch the latest episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation

Let’s not forget those autumn Tuesday night comedies. How can I forget taping  episodes of Home Improvement so I can watch them later. Those episodes always shattered my funny bone for some reason.

Home Improvement
Home Improvement

So much has changed.

Today, we live as a traveling society. We bring our entertainment with us. We can download any episode of any series we’d like; plop it on our iPods, iPhones, Nexus 7’s, Samsung Galaxy Tab’s, whatever—and we can watch them on the go. Gone are the days where we sit in front of the TV as past generations. The media we consume, at the rate we consume it, is unbelievable to those who’d lived in the VCR age.

Take, for instance, music. I remember a time when I’d recorded my favorite tracks on a cassette tape in a specific order based on how the songs meshed. Then, when I traveled with my Sony Walkman, I could listen to them on the go.

Boy, that no longer happens. At least, I don’t think.


Today, I can carry my entire music library I had carefully culled over the period of decades on my iPod. I have mixtape playlists, compilation playlists and even live playlists (those used when rating songs during my travels).


This is what our technology has brought us. We can carry our whole media library anywhere we go and consume it at a bus station, truck stop, library, museum, deli, newsstand, restaurant, friend’s house, wilderness, bus, train, woods, park, walking, hiking, boating, sailing, running, riding, traveling, etc. all in the confines of our realities.

I laugh. How did we do it back in the 80’s?

Anyone else notice how far technology has advanced? Anyone else have the same idea I have with the way we consume our media? What about books? Do you like hardcover books or do you read them on a Kindle or another reader?