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Nathan Gunter, Managing Editor
Photo by STEVEN WALKER
Pocket Full of Music
By Nathan Gunter
October 30, 2014
I probably burned through more double A batteries in the 1990s and early 2000s than almost anyone on earth. When I was a teenager, I spent summers with my dad in Weatherford, where I’d carry my Walkman everywhere—along with a bunch of tapes (mostly ones I’d mixed myself) and a couple spare sets of batteries. I walked all over that town, music of every kind along for each step.
The fall of my junior year of college, I moved to Venice, Italy, to study and live in a palazzo on the Grand Canal for a semester. We had no classes on Friday, and my housemates took advantage of our long weekends to travel. Most of my weekends were spent in town. I had a Discman and a small CD wallet. Venice’s carless streets form a winding maze in which it's easy to get lost—more than once I set off in the morning and didn’t find my way back home until sunset or after. But I had headphones in, a pocket full of music, and a few lire for lunch.
I got my first iPod when I turned twenty-four. I was unemployed at the time and it was an extravagant gift from my mom. Not long after, I returned to Weatherford for a short while, and music once again became my walking companion. I wore trenches in the streets of my Custer County hometown that cold autumn, my coat collar up, my eyes on the pavement, my thoughts racing to figure out what came next for me.
Over the last ten years, my iPod has been my constant companion. With the exception of NPR, I’ve never been a fan of terrestrial radio, so some digital music device is always near. I’m on my third iPod now—when they decided to make me feel old by christening it the iPod Classic, I’ve no idea—and couldn’t imagine a long road trip without the entire library of music I’ve loved for more than thirty years right at my fingertips.
Except I’m going to have to, because Apple recently discontinued the iPod Classic. Apple CEO Tim Cook says it’s because the company can no longer source parts; I suspect the motive is more profit-driven, as the device’s sales have been in decline for years. Whatever the case, I’m in a little bit of mourning for this product I’ve come to rely on. For insane music lovers like me, the idea of not having hundreds of gigabytes to save every song we’ve ever purchased is daunting—who knows what I may need to hear in the course of a day?
When I’ve mentioned my bereavement over the loss of the iPod to friends, they’ve asked, helpfully, “What about Spotify? What about Pandora? Just stream what you want to hear!”
I’m not cool enough to have an iPod loaded with rare stuff that has yet to find its way onto iTunes, much less Spotify or Pandora. There are a few, but mostly I could make do with streaming as long as I had access to data (which is a big “if” on some Oklahoma back roads). But my bigger issue is how many of the artists I respect are wary of online streaming—in some cases, they even actively work against it. Some of my friends and acquaintances are working musicians—they record albums, they tour, and this is their living. It’s not easy; I’ve seen some tax returns that would give you a stroke. Even much-accomplished artists like Bette Midler seem to be having trouble making the numbers add up.
So it was with some trepidation that I considered it when our new—and awesome—factchecker, Sara Cowan, suggested we start a Spotify account for the magazine. I love sharing the music I love, but I believe people should pay—really pay—for music, especially when it’s recorded by local and independent artists. But oh, the thought of being able to turn that login over to people whose musical tastes I love and respect, people like Ryan LaCroix and Preston Jones, whose recommendations I always take super seriously—it was tantalizing.
So I’m going to make a deal with you, readers—I got into our new Spotify account this morning and built my first playlist. It’s a simple collection of songs by some Oklahoma artists whose work I admire, from of-the-now artists like Samantha Crain and Parker Millsap to legends like Bob Childers and Roger Miller, whom I’ve loved since I was a kid. I hope you’ll listen, and I hope you’ll enjoy the songs, and then I really, really hope you’ll go buy the albums on which they appear. You can access the playlist here, and the list is below, complete with links to buy each album.
“Alas” by Honeylark, from the album Heavy
“Midnight and Noon” by Kevin Welch, from the album A Patch of Blue Sky
“Restless Spirits” by Bob Childers, from the album Circles Towards the Sun
“Ax” by Samantha Crain, from the album Kid Face
“Eastern Clouds” by Beau Jennings, from the album Holy Tulsa Thunder
“Town in Oklahoma” by Wink Burcham, from the album The New Tulsa Sound Volume 2
“Riverside” by Carter Sampson, from the album Mockingbird Sing
“Going Home” by John Fullbright, from the album Songs
“Farmer's Daughter” by K.C. Clifford, from the album The Tag Hollow Sessions
“King of the Road” by Roger Miller from the album Tbe Best of Roger Miller: His Greatest Songs