A couple of years ago when Facebook was still using me, a person whose opinion I respect very much wrote words of praise to a certain musician I didn’t know as a Facebook status. The description made me think that I may like the music, but I didn’t have time to check it back then, so I made a browser bookmark to remind myself to do it.
Today I finally did it… and found out that it’s just a pop singer of the kind that doesn’t interest me very much. At least now I have one bookmark less, which is a good thing.
In the last few years, I usually have some files of Israeli music with me when I leave my home, or my country – on my laptop or on my phone (ripped from CDs that I own, which is legit as far as my interpretation of copyright law goes).
And sometimes people from other countries are curious about it and ask me to copy some files for them. This is a copyright issue, but I justify it by the fact that they hardly have a chance to purchase it where they live, so they aren’t really hurting the relevant market. But there’s something bigger: a technical issue with the artist and song names.
Hebrew is written in the Hebrew alphabet. CDs have artist names and song titles in Hebrew, with English translations or transliterations added only occasionally. When I rip CDs, I give the files names in Hebrew letters. Most people around the world don’t know the Hebrew alphabet, so looking for a song they like using these files will be impossible for them. They would only be able to enjoy them if they don’t mind listening to everything in a shuffle. And though the newest phones are able to display Hebrew correctly, some devices that people have are still unable to do that.
I actually recall myself renaming files en masse to let friends from other countries listen to some Israeli music and now the artists’ names.
I’m not sure how to resolve this robustly, but much like with email and social networks and with legal forms, songs could use titles in different languages or scripts. Maybe MusicBrainz or Wikidata could add a structured property for transliterated song titles, and music files could be identified like that. Maybe each music track could have multiple fields for titles in different languages.
It’s good not just for international exchange between friends, but for marketing, too – some cultures only listen to music in English and maybe in their own language, but some are OK with listening to music in a lot of languages, because they are all equally foreign.
Long story short, song names must be more easily localizable than they are today.
Number 30 is “You have been to a party where at least two of your friends brought their babies”. I had such a party last night at my home.
Number 16 is “There’s an increasing number of musical artists you haven’t even heard of”. I already know this: In essence, I gave up on following new music. In the nineties I had MTV, or more precisely, MTV Europe. Then for a short time I had Pitchfork, but for various reasons I stopped following it, too. I don’t get to listen to radio much, and I never got the hang of that “podcast” thing.
I don’t know almost any new Israeli music either. Almost all the Israeli music I listen to is by artists that started publishing music before 2000. I cannot read articles about new artists on news sites, because the “journalists” who “write” them don’t bother to edit the press releases they get from the PR people.
This morning I was in a CD store to buy the new Girafot album. The store was mostly empty, as I expected. The clerks didn’t even bother to offer me help. A lady asked whether they have “CDs of eighties songs”. The industry is dying.
I found the Girafot album quickly. It had a big sticker saying “buy two albums of Israeli music, get the third one for free”. I started looking at other new Israeli albums and quickly realized that I haven’t heard about any of them.
And then this song started playing in the background:
“Oh, at least I know this one”, I thought. “It’s that wonderful video that I once saw at 2 AM on MTV about 1994, before Romeo + Juliet made it very famous, and immediately loved its video and its chorus.” And I had a plan.
Not much people in the store.
Bored me, bored and frustrated by inability to follow new music, but still very much in love with the music I loved fifteen years ago.
Towards the end of the first verse I carefully placed the Girafot CD that I held in my hands on the shelf, put down my bag, and casually asked my significant other to hold my sunglasses.
And when the chorus began I started jumping around the aisles. This is the best pop chorus ever; why waste it by just standing there? Not very exciting.
I apologize for not having that filmed. I had less than a minute to prepare, and I wanted it to be a surprise anyway. So use your imagination. Or just start listening to the song, and do the same thing wherever you are.
Best of all, do the same thing in your favorite CD store. If you don’t have a favorite CD store, I am sorry. Do it in your favorite coffee shop, or gym, or something.
Please stop forcing programs that organize the music on my computer down my throat. I already have a program that does it pretty well. It’s called a file system.
Instead of investing your time and effort in writing pointless software that gets in my way when I want to listen to a song, invest in an education program that will teach the human race how to do basic things with a computer. For example, to understand what a file is.
For years i have a violinist neighbor, whose practices i really enjoy. Now i also have a flautist neighbor, and he’s good, too. Sometimes he plays classical melodies and sometimes Arab melodies. I never met them and i only imagine that they are a girl and a guy, but i’ll really miss them when i move.
Every now and then i listen to bad music. Every now and then i watch a bad movie. Every now and then i eat in a bad restaurant. Every now and then i read a bad book. And i love it. It reminds my that i do have a taste and that i don’t just think that everything that i hear, watch, eat and read is good.
Today everyone seems to have to write something about John Lennon. Me too.
I was born in the Soviet Union, where finding foreign records was hard. But my mother was a Beatles fan, so she had Imagine and Let It Be on vinyl. These were the records with which i learned how to use a phonograph at the age of three or four. I was lucky.
I liked Imagine more; many modern critics would probably agree. I loved all the songs on it, but especially “Gimme Some Truth”. I didn’t know English then, but i loved the melody. I loved the line “Ma-ri-pa-ta-oon” at the end of the chorus. Only about sixteen years later i finally found out that he actually sings “money for dope, money for rope”.
But it’s “Ma-ri-pa-ta-oon” for all i care. (Linguists call it “Perceptive phonetics”, but it’s not really important.)