The year in audio files

What did I stick in my ears in 2017? For better or worse, podcasts seem to have won out over recorded music and live concerts. This year also marked my departure from a cable subscriber to a digital antenna owner and dedicated Roku watcher. Too much self-selection and not enough serendipitous living, but that seems to be a trend these days.

When left to my own devices here’s what I plugged into.

The gateway drug – Years behind the ball on this one, I finally got into podcasts in 2017. No surprise that it was PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre podcast (Masterpiece Studio) that drew me to the dark side. I downloaded Stitcher on my Android phone and listened to my heart’s content to stories about my favorite TV shows, including Prime Suspect: Tennison, Grantchester and The Durrells in Corfu.

if we are what we listen to, I am old and white. that checks out.

Baby, you got me – WFUV is my favorite local NYC radio station and Spotify is my music player of choice, so when I began noticing WFUV playlists on Spotify, well, everything was alright. The #FUVEssentials: Elton John playlist was in heavy rotation this summer, and the #FUVEssentials: Emmylou Harris playlist introduced me to her song Born to Run, which I immediately co-opted as my personal anthem.

New favorite – Ok, so it was a tip from a WFUV DJ plus a quick search on Stitcher that led me to one of my favorite finds this year: the Song Exploder podcast. Artists breakdown the backstories of one of their songs, especially focusing on the technical building blocks. Compelling stuff.

Eat your vegetables – It wasn’t all easy listening in 2017. I also bookmarked some things I thought I should listen to, prime among them Fresh Air’s 10 Favorite Terry Gross Interviews. About half of these are interviews with comics, and I’m pretty much always up for some comedic navel gazing. The other half are a mixed bag of subjects, all excellent, but I still haven’t made it through all of them.

Your (alleged) Top Songs in 2017 – According to Spotify the top three tracks I listened to in 2017 were: Kill your Mama, by Alicia Keys; California, by Grimes; and The Space Program by A Tribe Called Quest. I guess that’s accurate? I was rocking out to Alicia Keys’s album HERE a lot in 2017, but The Gospel was my favorite song on it. Also, I recall Grease, by Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White being in heavy rotation, but it ranks 20 on the list, above Starboy by The Weeknd. Is the algorithm wrong or my memory? And none of these songs were first heard in 2017, so that’s a little embarrassing.

A note from Captain Obvious – The acoustics in the Apollo Theatre are amazingly good! I know this post is about audio files and not live music, but the sound inside the Apollo Theatre really blew me away when I saw Ryan Adams there at the start of the year. Audio files have their own type of excellent, but live music makes you vibrate on a whole other level. Here’s to embracing all the good vibrations in 2018.

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