February 3, 2009

Pandora is Scary. And I am Really Old.

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:04 pm by the Green-Eyed Siren

Just signed up for Pandora yesterday. How the hell does it know so much about me?

Pandora, for those of you who are even less plugged in to web 2.0 than I, is an online service streaming customized radio playlists to your computer or mobile device. I plugged in Jack Johnson, James Blunt, U2 & Madonna just to get started, in part because I like all of those artists and in part because I was a little distracted and having trouble thinking of anyone else. But fortunately Pandora was On It, using its sophisticated algorithms to determine other songs I might like and send them my way, and it has apparently come to the (not inaccurate) conclusion that I am drawn to soulful youngish men.

Old favorites like the boys of Goo Goo showed up uninvited to my Pandora party, but it doesn’t follow that uninvited equals unwelcome. Then there are the groups whose names I knew but never actually associated with their songs, because I am unacceptably disconnected with pop culture: Five For Fighting, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Weezer—exposing my ignorance in all its disgraceful glory. I mean, I’ve had an iPod since Generation 3! I have an iTunes library too large to fit on my laptop! How is it that I would have missed all of these people? I mean, other than because of that Thomas the Tank Engine music phase my kids went through?

Furthering my mortification, I recognize that this points to an undeniably true equation:

Jack Johnson + U2 + James Blunt + Coldplay +  Goo Goo Dolls + Five for Fighting (but minus Pat Benatar; sorry Mr. Unfocused) = I am a truly fucking old housewife and MILF only to my blessedly forgiving husband (who, it must be said, is not sadly misguided but instead simply knows some things about me that the rest of you do not). I have mere months before I reach my 40th birthday, but, as we can see, I might as well have passed that milestone ages ago judging from Pandora’s scary prescience. What on earth is the point anymore?

I had hoped that with Madonna in the mix it might all be OK, but I was forgetting that she has now become the scary bandage-wrapped skeletor lady. Madonna, please note: desperation is simply not a path to hipness. (Oh, how I long for a return to the Ray of Light days; human was a good look for her.) At any rate, she has no mojo to spare for me these days. And then I had to give a thumbs down to Aerosmith’s Dream On, because while I can respect it I simply didn’t want to listen to it. That was really the nail in my coolness coffin.

In my defense, I offer the observation that when my children are home I live in a very, um, exuberant situation. My mother was here to babysit last Saturday night (for the dreaded Paddle Ball gauntlet, which I survived handily by sitting my behind in a warm chair with a cold club soda, thank god; once again, I worried excessively over nothing, but I certainly appreciate your concern) and she was impressed anew by the decibel level around here: “If your hearing is anything close to normal, this must drive you crazy,” was how she put it. The kids don’t really holler a lot or anything, they just talk REALLY REALLY LOUDLY. And incessantly. At the same time. So when I am alone with only my computer for company, I think it’s fair for me not to choose to spend my time with Steven Tyler, even if so doing would suggest that I have the occasional rebellious moment and am thus not a complete loser.

So, anyway, that soulful young man thing…I’m trying to think how I’m going to break it to Mr. Unfocused. I expect my attraction to them was a secret only to myself, however, so I’m probably good.

Oh, man, here comes Oasis. Don’t Look Back in Anger. I love Oasis! Shit, I don’t want to make them uncool by association!

UPDATE: Mr. Unfocused just tried Pandora, and when asked his favorite artist, he responded “Warren Zevon.” Out of all of the huge catalogue of Zevon songs, Pandora picked “Lawyers, Guns & Money.” HOW does Pandora do that?



  1. harri3tspy said,

    Pandora freaks me out for its BigBrotherishness. I was an addict for a while, but I’ve gone back to music the old-fashioned way — downloaded directly onto my hard drive.

  2. Unfocused Me said,

    Nothing about the playlist you describe surprises me in the least, James Blunt fangirl that you are.

    Pandora’s giving me a *lot* of Waylon Jennings. And I’m loving it!

  3. Jeanne said,

    I feel your pain (and your mother’s) with the noisy children thing. My parents are getting more and more like the Grinch every year about the “noise, noise, noise noise!”

  4. The Lass said,

    I’m so old I’d never even HEARD of Pandora until I read this entry. Glad the paddleball wasn’t as horrible as you’d anticipated.

  5. Green Eyed Siren's Mom said,

    It’s Deja Vu all over again! What goes around, comes around.

    Reminds me of the time in the early ’80’s when I was driving you and your brother someplace. You had picked out the radio station (remember radios?) and a song came on that I rather liked. I said, “Oh that’s nice…..is it new?” To which you and your brother replied simultaneously, “Oh Mom!! That’s from the seventies!!!” The implication that I was completely hopeless and out of touch was unmistakable.

    So I responded, “Well, it just so happens that during the seventies I knew the words to every song on Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers! Excuuuuuse me if I didn’t have time to keep up with the top 40 hits!”

    I guess being somewhat out of touch just goes with the territory when you are a mom. Unless, of course, you are really cool or neglecting your kids…. or both.

    And look on the bright side……you discovered this on your own in the privacy of cyberspace. Your children didn’t have to witness this. You are still the coolest, smartest, most beautiful supermom ever………..Enjoy it while it lasts.

    On another note, I am happy to report that have heard of Madonna and the Dave Matthews Band. I don’t feel like I am totally, completely, hopelessly out of touch. I am hanging on by a thread to being somewhat up-to-date on what’s happening in our popular culture. Just don’t ask me to name anything they’ve recorded.

    It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood………..

  6. bb said,

    Did you ever listen to that Sufjan Stevens I amazoned to your doorstep a few years back? ahem?

  7. Pickle Horwtiz said,

    I love that your mom just called you “… the coolest, smartest, most beautiful supermom ever.” That’s amazing,

    I’m with The Lass. Had no idea what Pandora was until this post.

  8. Mom: I do remember that conversation. Karmic retribution is a bitch. And if I have earned any of the mothering accolades you’re awarding me, it’s only because I learned from the best.

    bb: I did, in fact, listen to that CD. It took me a while, but I put it in sometime within the last year. I found him interesting, but I wasn’t blown away–although I know he is very well respected. (And, actually, the contemporary choir at church performed a Stevens arrangement of Joy to the World this Christmas; I was grateful that you had given me the CD because I had some context when I wrote program notes for the concert.) I should go back and listen again. Maybe I’ll add him to my Pandora list!

    Pickle: My mom is pretty awesome, don’t you think?

  9. Geoff said,

    Music recommendations! I can do that!

    Though I must preface them by saying that a failure to listen to Aerosmith’s “Dream On” in no way lowers your coolness factor.

    Now, soulful male crooners – check out Ray LaMontagne and Damien Rice. David Gray has some nice stuff also. And Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is a classic of the genre.

    For indie pop you can’t go wrong with Sufjan Stevens (mentioned above), Ben Folds or Andrew Bird.

    On the rock side Foo Fighters are excellent (they are lead by Dave Grohl, formerly of Nirvana), as are the Raconteurs and White Stripes (both Jack White bands) and probably my favorite band of the last couple years is The Arcade Fire, out of Montreal. They are awesome.

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