Behind facebook status like: "...somewhere between 'Addictive' by Faithless and 'Addicted' by Juliana Hatfield."

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/07/21 10:01 -04:00, original URI:

I've been in the habit of using a musical metaphor in my facebook status information lately.

And even more occasionally in my Windows Live Messenger status1.

And then most occasionally in my Office Communicator status2.

And a few of my friends have asked me about it -- like what they meant, why I was doing it.

Sso I figured I should blog about it to explain.... :-)

The underlying problem I am trying to solve is the one I first defined in a blog from a month ago, the one entitled Doing a thorough brushing of the gift horse's teeth.

Stated simply, the problem I defined there was:

I can't reasonably express an appropriate [musical] subset that will fit into 4 GB.

But then I started thinking about it.

I pick the music I listen to based on my mood, for the most part. That is true.

But it is hardly always true.

I mean, the reason that songs like Joe Satriani's One Big Rush are such great songs to just put on at particular times is that they are great songs to just psych yourself up for some interesting challenge or issue or situation3.

You don't choose to put on such music because you are in the mood to get psyched up for something. A situation requires it, and so you put on the music to help get you in the frame of mind to be able to do it.

For lack of a better way of putting it, you alter your mood based on the music you play.

Okay, fair enough.

But then how best to choose what to listen to?

I decided to try a simple technique:

From there, I have two end points, each represented by a song. They share a particular thematic connection -- it could be a comparison, or a contrast, or a point-of-view thing, or any other kind of commonality. But it becomes quite easy to pick songs to go on that 4 GB Zune that fit within that spectrum.

Mentally this might be the very way I (subconsciously) build playlists, or chose what records or songs to listen to.

Now I found the above technique to be way too easy --  there is simply so much music on so many subjects, it was like a kid on a candy store asked to pick two sweets.

So I added a last condition.

Make sure the two songs also share a more mundane connection as well as the deeper one above.

It now becomes like a crossword puzzle style problem -- there are kinds of rules or structure surrounding but there is enough creativity to allow for creativity to provide reasonable variation, and entertainment.

(The analysis that will follow are *very* over-simplified, but they make the point for purposes here!4)

Thus I end up with a facebook status something like:

Michael is (thematically) somewhere between Pink Floyd's "Stay" and Lisa Loeb's "Stay".

Now these two songs share a title, obviously.

The Pink Floyd song (from Obscured By Clouds) refers to a one night stand, with the next morning and the guy saying

I rise, looking through my morning eyes,
Surprised to find you by my side.
Rack my brain to try to remember your name
To find the words to tell you good-bye.

And the Lisa Loeb song (from Tails) refers instead to a woman who ended a relationship for all kinds of really good reasons, and then suddenly realized (since she missed him) that

You said that I was naive and I thought that I was strong
I thought, "hey, I can leave, I can leave."
Oh, but now I know that I was wrong, 'cause I missed you
Yeah, I miss you

Either way we hit relationships that didn't really have the staying power to make it, so the ultimate result is the same, but the "Loeb" relationship is certainly more one to be proud of, one at least involving no "walk of shame" like the "Floyd" relationship does.

Ultimately showing how relationships -- as they become more mature, more substantial, and yes more adult -- are for the most part still going to end, no matter what.

But we still get more out of the more adult ones. :-)

Anyway, other "theme" statuses have included:

And probably another dozen or so I have used and several hundred that have occurred to me.

But each one has [as least] three meanings:

But even if you only have one of these it can still be fun... I may even blog about one of them again some day!


1 - Very few of my friends are also Windows Live Messenger contacts -- so most people don't see this.
2 - I never launch Office Communicator other than to turn my work phone forwarding on or off, so I never remember to update this status.
3 - Younger readers can mentally replace this with a song like Le Tigre's TKO.
4 - I could probably blather on about any of these pairings for at least 62.4 minutes longer than any normal human could stand to listen to me do it!


This blog brought to you by ݉ (U+0749, aka SYRIAC MUSIC)

# Paul on 21 Jul 2008 9:47 PM:

Not sure age is a requirement for knowing Joe Satraini - really only well known amongst guitar afficionados as far as I know - and even then plenty of them don't like that style of showy figurative lead guitar at the expense of musicality.

I, however, love a bit of Satch :)

# Chen on 25 Oct 2008 12:44 AM:

Oh wow, I loved you... you're a bit of a wack job but in a wonderful way. I have to admit I reached this post by mistake while googling facebook related status updates for my own personal plagiarism mission. But I like how it turned out... Again, second confession in 2 sentences, I'm not as musically inclined as I'd like to be. Some people such as yourselves view music as an integral part of their lives, I assume. I don't, I have very selective theme songs for different stages but they tend to be so over played by me that I get sick of them quickly. I can't remember the last time I put on some music and just listened to it, without doing anything else (like working or cooking or having sex). I wish I could connect with music like many people do, my CD collection is lame to say the least and I believe I lost some 50 CD's some time ago and hadn't noticed it until years later. In complete contradiction I find that I probably know most popular bands, artists and songs verbatim. Even some random popular ones from the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and way too many hebrew ones and Spanish ones (which is a language I can't even speak more then Spanish 101).

To get back to my original quest I take my facebook statuses pretty seriously, nothing annoys me more then seeing "Martin is tired and at work". Thanks Martin, you boring sod for that Monday morning pearl of wisdom, there's half a second of my life wasted.

So I very carefully choose funny and in my humble opinion witty status updates to amuse 521 of my closest facebook friends.

After many compliments scratching my planet sized ego I even opened a group to celebrate my awesomeness (kinda like McCain and the Republican party did).

Let me know what you think if u get a chance...

I promise u most of them are worth a reading and I'm sure some will be new to you and you will benefit and grow from having been exposed to them.

Cheers and Shalom mate ;-)

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2008/07/22 Not everyone gets to know everything?

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