Crepe paper streamers dangled at the entrance to the Passion Pit, the name my brother and I dubbed the finished basement we used for our party room when we were in high school. It was a misnomer because nothing more passionate than a quick, stolen kiss or two happened during our parties.
Kids nowadays would yawn at our Saturday night shindigs. My mother would bring down platters of sloppy joes, her famous potato salad, and chips, and we’d put a stack of 45’s on the stereo and play games and dance. Occasionally, my brother’s group, the Capsized Three, would perform their signature song, Jamaica Farewell.
My 45’s are long gone and I gave all my LP’s to my brother because I no longer have a turntable. I’ve missed hearing those songs and artists. That is, until…Pandora! My daughter and son-in-law introduced us to Pandora Internet radio (pandora.com) when they visited last month. I can create my own “radio stations” by typing in a particular artist or song. Pandora will play songs by that artist and similar artists. I have the option of giving a thumbs down for any song or artist I don’t like. I also can choose to hear one particular artist exclusively, and I can create as many of these “radio stations” as I want. I have a jazz station with musicians like Dave Brubeck, a folk music group with singers like Ian and Sylvia, the Kingston Trio, and Peter, Paul, and Mary. And the cost of all this? Free! Yes, I get forty hours a month free. If I run over that, I can pay 99 cents for the rest of the month until the next month of free music.
I don’t know how they do it. What a treat it is for me to listen to a concert of Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, and Judy Collins. Did you know that Linda Ronstadt sounds so much like Joan Baez when she sings folk songs? I didn’t until Pandora chose those early songs of hers to include on my Judy Collins station. You can get Pandora on your smart phone and plug it into your car’s auxiliary connection and hear the music through your car speakers. At home I hook my Nook (an e-reader) to an external speaker and play Pandora through it. Blue Ray players now give you the capability of playing Pandora.
Okay, everyone who is reading this must be saying, “Where has she been? Pandora’s been around for awhile.” I tend to be oblivious to new things until they become old things, so you’ll have to forgive me. I have to wonder, though, how Pandora affects the music industry. Just like book stores and video stores going out of business left and right, CD sales have to be down, too, because of iTunes and programs like Pandora. What’s next? As for me, I’ve got to scoot; I have a date with the Highwaymen.