Saturday, November 03, 2007


Order, Order

by Wayne Robins

I recently reinstated my eMusic membership: 30 tracks for $9.99, (plus a generous re-signing bonus). Legal, playable in all formats and burnable for those of us who still find our comfort zone in compact discs, what eMusic lacks in major label offerings is less a drawback than it is its purpose: It's a specialty online record store on which one can pleasurably spend hours browsing more than 2 million or so indie tracks. My first new purchase was "Soap and Water" (Yep Roc) by my longtime favorite
Chuck Prophet.

Right here I would write about "Soap and Water," and I will later. But a glitch occurred in transferring the songs from the eMusic player to my iTunes library to the blank disc on which I burned the album: Some songs got out of sequence. So the disc I burned and to which I have been listening for the last few days starts with songs 10-12: "Naked Ray," "Downtime" and "Happy Ending." Then the album's intended opening track, "Freckle Song," is up fourth, and the rest of the sequence continues uninterrupted.

This may not be a big deal to those raised or satisfied with the randomness of the iPod shuffle. But those of us who still believe in the sanctity of the album—that is, the album as the primary construction of a recording artist's art—it is a real faux pas. The sequencing of an album is as crucial as the order of chapters in a book. It is unlikely that Prophet randomly chose to begin with "Freckle Song" instead of "Naked Ray," and implausible that concluding "Soap and Water" with a song called "Happy Ending" was not a conscious artistic choice. So now I will go back and re-burn my purchased tracks in the order the artist intended. Otherwise, he could have called the album "Water and Soap."

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