Between the Headphones of the Publisher


I have seen the light, and quite frankly, am nervous that I have now ruined myself from here on out. I may never again go into the woods without a proper sound system.

John Muir, be damned.

Just a week before this deadline, a group of about 15 of us (some close friends, some folks I’d never met) headed into the woods for a night. This wasn’t a camping trip as much as it was a listening party — a listening party held in a remote spot of an expansive ranch just outside of Steamboat Springs.

We had all of the normal accoutrements — tents, sleeping bags, beer and flashlights, but we also took this to another extreme. We packed in a generator and a P.A. system, so that we could have good sound. Everyone in the group was tasked with this: make a playlist one hour in length. No more.

Some of us put great thought into this seemingly simple task. One guy in the group even went so far as to teach himself mixing software in the weeks leading up to the outdoor listening party, so that his entire playlist ran as one continuous song with tracks fading into and out of one another.

The purposes of this adventure were varied. While one of the party’s more cynical members explained that “This is so we can all sit around and silently judge each other’s musical tastes,” the real purpose was to share — to share in this incredible gift of music that we have all around us. Each of us picked a couple of favorite songs, or favorite artists and we all picked a few tracks that would simply match our setting.

I’ve said it a million times that no one, no one can pick songs better than my iPod (it’s why I stopped listening to commercial radio years ago). It’s my music, on my schedule. My favorite song of the minute is playing right now. But damned if my friends didn’t open me, and the entire group, up to other songs that we would have chosen had we only known about them.

Nearly everyone had one or two obvious choices — bands that you just knew would be on their list — but everyone also stretched their minds and found things more obscure in their libraries.

It was phenomenal and the fact that my favorite song of the minute, that is playing on my iPod as I type this, is a song that I had never heard of until that night, is a testament to that.

I urge you to gather your friends and do the same. Host a listening party. But I warn you, if you host yours outdoors, you may never want to camp without a P.A. and generator again.

See you at the shows.


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