The irony was not lost on me: Spotify was curating the playlist yesterday… as I labored to dispose of a once-cherished collection of mix-tapes and CDs.
A part of me really hated to see the old stuff go – especially the cassettes. And if you’re of a certain age, you probably know what I mean: how liberating it once seemed – to transfer your favorite tunes from vinyl LPs, to audiotape.
The little plastic contraptions were a much more portable way to enjoy your music. No longer were you tied to the clunky components (turntable, amp, speakers) of a home stereo system. Cassettes could go anywhere: in the car, on your belt, in a backpack.
Mix-tapes somehow seemed more creative, too. Put a little time in on the front end, and you got to be your own DJ – setting up tracks to play in an order that was uniquely your own, and perhaps spoke to your spirit in a way an album never could.
They could unleash the joy of musical discovery as well. I used to trade mix-tapes with a few friends, back in the day – giving them a hint of what I’d been listening to lately…and they, returning the favor, with a collection of tunes and artists I might not otherwise ever have encountered.
Today, of course, all of that’s supposed to be Spotify’s job. Music streaming has replaced recorded media. And the world’s a bit better off, I suppose – with far less plastic generated in the process of getting my music transported from here to there.
I just hope Spotify gets better at the task over the course of time. Its “expert” curation algorithm wound up boring me silly yesterday – even repeating a few tracks from its vast library during the hour or two I was listening.
That never woulda happened on one of my old mix-tapes or CDs. Which is a reminder, I suppose, about the folly of putting too much faith in experts – who prove ultimately to be imperfect, and all-too-human.
We have a better option for fulfilling our desires – musical, or otherwise – as the Psalmist reminded us at Mass this week. It’s God alone who is the source of all goodness in our lives.
The eyes of all look hopefully to You,
and You give them their food in due season;
You open Your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The hand of the Lord feeds us; [God] answers all our needs.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.