Short Shadow Running Club

The Great (and Pointless) Debate

Log Entry #3

The side trips to the real world are happening more frequently now, and I hope that continues. If I had known how desolate deserts really were, I never would have wished to be running in one. If anyone is listening, I have learned my lesson about being careful what I wish for or whatever.

Anyway, as I said, I keep getting sent to the real world, and that does break up the monotony. A little. On my most recent furlough, I was there for a six mile run instead of just three. Of course, that was just fine by me; more time there is less time in the desert.

In real life, my usual six-mile run was a combination of The Dad Route and The Shirley Route. We called it a six miles, but it was really more like a 10K, and it was a challenging one. Even when I was in peak condition, it still took fifty minutes or more to complete this one. If you like to listen to albums, it’s more difficult than you might think to come up with music for a run of that length.

The first problem is that most albums just aren’t long enough. Second, many that are long enough, don’t maintain the tempo necessary to carry you through such a vigorous workout. At some point, there is usually a slow song that saps you of energy just as you try to climb a hill. One album that often got me through these longer runs was the self-titled debut from Queens of the Stone Age.

Try not to burn yourself out. You will be running hard to every track on this one.

On my most recent foray into my old world, that album provided the soundtrack, and as I ran through my neighborhood, I started think. Now, generally speaking, thinking is a good thing, and I would encourage it. But it sometimes leads to arguments. And even though some arguments can be productive, many should be avoided.

Because I am all alone, seemingly for eternity, I am already tired of arguing with myself. Let’s face it, that guy can be a dick sometimes, and once you get him going, good luck stopping him. As a result, I try not to think, but I am not very good at it. Today, I failed not to think, and before I knew it, I got into one of the great debates with myself.

The debate: Which is the better way to listen to music, albums or playlists?

In real life, I was old enough to say things like, “I’m old enough to remember when bands put serious thought into crafting an album as a coherent work of art.” In fact, I might have said that exact thing once or twice. But only because it’s true.

When it’s done right, an album is more than the sum of its parts. In these cases, the individual songs do not lend themselves to shuffling. Think of “The Wall” by Pink Floyd or “Aenima” by Tool. Listening to just one song at a time from these masterpieces is like looking at just one corner of a great painting.

This is meant to consumed whole

A carefully crafted work of art should not be chopped into smaller pieces to be consumed at random. So, I think I have made my case; the album is clearly the superior option.

On the other hand, I could be wrong.

In truth, perfect albums are rare. Even the best efforts have one or two songs that are skippable. In the bad old days of cassette tapes, we just suffered through these songs, because fast-forwarding was more work than it was worth. CD’s freed us from that burden a long time ago.

Smartphones made things even better. It has never been easier to make playlists of favorite songs. And playlists are a great option for those long runs because they can be any length and any combination of songs. Listening to albums in this day and age is like using a horse and buggy while everyone else drives a Model T.

A Brief History of the Model T Ford - Everything You Need To Know
Listening to playlists is cutting edge, like the Model T (was)

So, I think I have made the case; playlists are the superior option.

That doesn’t seem right, either. Really, the whole debate is pointless because it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Listening to only albums or only playlists is like having more than one choice but doing the same thing every time. Obviously that would be boring.

So, the answer to the debate is both. The best way to listen to music is whatever keeps you listening to music. As I concluded this debate with myself, I realized I was near the end of my run. It was time to go back to the desert, for awhile at least.

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