A Spotify surprise

J. Eric Smith

Has anything like this ever happen to you? I was visiting the site of one J. Eric Smith, as I am wont to do. In the then-current post, he noted: “It has been almost a year since I reluctantly caved to streaming my music.” He discussed the pros and cons of that.

“On the upside: I do like the ability to create playlists quickly, and there seems to be more of the musical arcana that I like available on Spotify than there was/is on iTunes, which I’d used exclusively for the prior 12 years. We’ve sort of defaulted to themed playlists around the house, ranging from 50 to 100 to 150 songs.

“(I’m obsessive about tidiness on such matters, and couldn’t stand to have a 52-song or 147-song list, no sir, that would not do, not at all).” I could definitely create a 52-song list. There are 52 cards in a standard deck of cards, after all.

Eric posted a great Africa playlist, 100 of his “favorite songs from that continent’s myriad musical cultures. ” I decided I didn’t want to listen to 30-second snippets of songs. So I figured I would finally get a free registration to Spotify.


Except, it appears that I had already done so. Of course, I didn’t record the password anywhere.  So I had to get another one. They had the damnedest Captcha methodology I had ever seen. They showed a series of dice, some standard pips, and Arabic numbers, and you had to match the dice with a number three times. 

I discovered that not only did I have an account, but I had made a playlist of my own: 12 Paul Simon songs. I have no recollection of having done so, let alone when or  HOW I did that. 

This falls into the category of a truism about me. Confronted by almost any technology that I don’t use regularly, it is like I’d never seen it before. When I figure it out again, maybe I’ll create more playlists. I have some particular ideas. And heck, I might even take requests.


Or not. I came across this New York Times article. Want to Enjoy Music More? Stop Streaming It. Build a real music collection. Reintroduce intimacy to the songs you care about. Though Denise Lu is much younger than I, she gets me.  “Maybe that’s why I never latched onto streaming services — I didn’t like depending on a third-party platform, or being part of a social experiment that feeds Spotify data that it then sells to advertisers.”

Something that Chuck Rozanski/Bettie Pages, the President of Mile High Comics, Inc. wrote on October 9 resonates with me. “I… drove to Jason St. mid-afternoon each day to sort comics until 8 PM. I don’t know why, but there is something about the Zen of spending hours sorting old comic books into categories that has the capacity to soothe the ache in my heart, and to restore my spirit.

“In many regards, for me, it is like visiting with old friends, as I can look at any given title and/or issue number and remember quite vividly where I was (and who I was…) when that issue was first released.”

About every four months, I have to resort all of the CDs I have played. You’d think it would be boring. Not for me. I, too, experience the joy of remembering how I got that album,  maybe looking at something on the liner notes I forgot. 

F is for Former Names

Perhaps, the greatest area of change involves place names.

The item pictured above used to be called a guitar. Then this item-

-came along. And now the first item is now called an acoustic guitar, to differentiate it from the second item, an electric guitar.

This used to be known as a clock

– until this –

– came along. Now an analog clock describes a clock with an actual face, compared with a digital clock.

There’s a whole bunch of these, called retronyms, a term the late New York Times wordsmith William Safire believed had been around for 30 years, but in the dictionaries for far less time. Here is a list of retronyms.

This used to be known as a stewardess, but now is a flight attendant.

This used to be known as a fireman, but is now a firefighter.

The language has become more gender-neutral.

Perhaps, the greatest area of change involves place names. A lot of this took place in Africa in my lifetime, where locations that used to be colonies are now independent countries. Also, in the Western Hemisphere, British Honduras became Belize, British Guiana became Guyana and Dutch Guiana became Suriname.

Sometimes the local politics or internal struggles affect the nomenclature. Ceylon is now Sri Lanka, e.g. and the Democratic Republic of the Congo used to be Zaire. Cambodia has had a couple of other names.

Some formerly divided countries re-merged, such as Germany and Vietnam. In Africa, Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined to create Tanzania. Conversely, other countries broke into two or more parts. Bangladesh was once East Pakistan. Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and especially the Soviet Union are no more. Egypt and Syria merged to form the United Arab Republic in 1958 but got a divorce in 1961. Here is a list of some countries that have had name changes.

One of the name changes I remember most, though, was a city; Peking became Beijing, explained here; likewise, a description of the change from Bombay to Mumbai, something I admit I occasionally forget. Of course, St. Petersburg, Russia has been Petrograd and Leningrad.

Three of the four schools I’ve attended in my life have changed names. Binghamton Central High School merged with Binghamton North to become Binghamton High School in 1982. Both my State University of New York undergrad school, New Paltz, and my grad school, Albany, have undergone a number of name changes; the former in 1828 as the New Paltz Classic Academy, and the latter as the New York State Normal School in 1844. My first school, Daniel S. Dickinson, has long ago been razed.

Finally, THE song of a name change, first a hit by The Four Lads, way back in 1953. Listen to Istanbul (not Constantinople) by They Might Be Giants.

Feel free to share your favorite name changes.

ABC Wednesday – Round 7


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