Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Me vs. Genius

I think it's time I gave up on the politics. At least for a day or two. Far too depressing. It's like a Kurt Vonnegut novel come to life, only the funny isn't so funny 'cuz it's real.

I was flipping through my back pages, looking over some of my old blog posts when I stumbled across a post from last November. In that post, I offered up a playlist for a cold November night. Looking at it again, I still think it works really well.

It got me to thinking about itunes' Genius feature. If I could come up with this from my collection, what will Genius suggest given the same starting song? So I created a 16 song playlist starting with the Rev. Gary Davis' "I will do my last singing in this land somewhere".

(In the original one, I bookended the playlist with 2 versions of Goodnight Irene (Leadbelly's to start and Tom Waits' to finish). As I have not added any Leadbelly to my ipod yet, I dropped them from the list.)

Here are the results:

The Original List

1. I will do my last singing in this land somewhere - Rev. Gary Davis
2. Midnight Special - Odetta
3. Tower of Song - Leonard Cohen
4. Moanin' At Midnight - Howlin' Wolf
5. Tecumseh Valley - Townes Van Zandt
6. Visions of Johanna - Bob Dylan
7. Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night - Tom Waits
8. Help Me Make It Through The Night - Kris Kristofferson
9. Coney Island Baby - Lou Reed
10. Wichita Lineman - Johnny Cash
11. River - Joni Mitchell
12. Streets of Baltimore - Gram Parsons
13. He Stopped Loving Her Today - George Jones
14. Sweet Jane - Cowboy Junkies
15. Toledo - Danny Michel
16. Lua - Bright Eyes

The Genius List

1. I will do my last singing in this land somewhere - Rev. Gary Davis
2. Pony Blues - Son House
3. Sickbed Blues - Skip James
4. High Heeled Sneakers - Buddy Guy and Junior Wells
5. You're Going to Need Somebody on Your Bond - Taj Mahal
6. Three Hundred Pounds of Joy - Howlin' Wolf
7. Juke - Little Walter
8. Crosscut Saw - Albert King
9. Into the Night - B.B. King
10. A Man of Many Words - Buddy Guy and Junior Wells
11. Bring it on Home - Sonny Boy Williamson
12. Rubber Biscuit - The Blues Brothers
13. Both Sides Now - Dave Van Ronk
14. I Feel Like Going Home - Muddy Waters
15. Louis Collins - Mississippi John Hurt
16. Twelve Gates to the City - Rev. Gary Davis

I know I'm horribly biased but so what? That's why I have this blog. I like my list better. Of course, a big part of that comes from knowing how and why I put the list together whereas the Genius list is just random. Not that it doesn't hit some high points - you've got 7 decades of the blues represented here which is always a good thing - but it lacks something.

That said, I find it an interesting contrast. Even if I stuck to the blues, I doubt I'd come up with a list much like the one Genius created. Would I play this list? Yes, but not more than once or twice. But that's the nice thing about genius - with a few clicks of the mouse, I can have a whole new list to dissect.

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