A Higher Fi

Goodbye, evil lo-fi listening experience. Yesterday's monologueand the conversations it triggeredfired a few more music-related synapses in my brain. One e-mailed comment in particular made me smile, just because its author basically insinuated that my musical tastes seem to be improving since I'm okay with Johnny Cash now. This is because she happens to enjoy the country genre, while I generally do not.

Not that Ricky Skaggs' rendition of Cajun Moon isn't jiggy. It's in one of my playliststhe one I turn to for jigginessbut that's as far as I'm willing to go with it. One song. No more.

I've always liked the Last Train to Hicksville album, which doesn't exactly qualify as country music, although it's probably closer than the rest of my collection. But Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks aren't everyone's cup of tea, or coffee, genre aside.

On the much heavier side of my musical scale lie creations such as Jean-Michel Jarre's Zoolook album, Tom Waits' Rain Dogs, and of course songs like Leonard Cohen's Tower Of Song, and Everybody Knows. Ani Difranco's rendition of Amazing Grace counts as one of my more memorable sonic experiences, but on the other hand, there's also room in my playlist for the Crash Test Dummies' A Cigarette Is All You Get.

I've never met a Nora Jones tune I didn't like, but I can probably say the same for the Talking Heads, too. Not so when it comes to Smash Mouth, although a number of their songs live quite happily in at least one of my playlists. When it comes to sheer numbers, there are more Beatles, Grateful Dead, and Lou Reed disks on my shelf than anything else. Go figure.

But John Stewart is there, too, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Nirvana, and Peter Gabriel, and Tracy Chapman, and Dave Grusin, and that's all I'm going to say about it. Oh, and the Velvet Underground.

Neither Paul Simon's Graceland nor Joan Osborne's Relish require much in the way of introduction, but there are only a few tracks on the latter that really grab meSpider Web, for examplewhile Graceland is one of those rare works that has no skippable songs. In my humble opinion, of course. Same goes for the Brandenburg Concertos, but that's another story entirely.

Then there's Kiln House, which generally does require some introduction; virtually everyone is familiar with Fleetwood Mac, but most people don't remember the band without its female members. Juluka's Scatterlings album is similarly unfamiliar, but for an entirely different reason.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers make an appearance in my playlist; Walkabout is one song I'd really hate to be without. In the compilation department, there's a Northern Exposure (right, the TV show) disk that offers an eclectic variety of music, from Magazine 60 to Etta James.

It wouldn't be right to ignore Bob Dylan, but like the Beatles, there's so much music that it would be pointless to point it out. So I won't, except to say that, these days, I'd rather listen to Things Have Changed than Tangled Up In Blue, just because . . . well, because I've heard that song before. I've also heard way too much Pink Floyd in my time, so only one of their songs survives in my playlist now, and that's San Tropez, from the Meddle album.

The rest is random stuff I've picked up here and there. A few Phish tunes here, a little J. J. Cale there, a couple B. B. King tracks to round things out. I still like to hear Steppenwolf's Magic Carpet Ride from time to time, or Snowblind Friend. The B52s' Love Shack is fun sometimes, but so is David Bowie, or Yaz. It's A Beautiful Day is on the shelf with a few other notorious classics, but mostly, it stays right there.

Where's Neil Young? I don't know, but then, there's always something missing, isn't there?