Over the weekend a variety of factors—a bout with insomnia, a somewhat parsimonious nature, a nostalgic yearning for the comedy of my youth, and a love for all-things-Miles—set me to exploring the iTunes Music Store for really long tracks at a really low price. It’s like this:
Every so often my nocturnal noggin loses track of time and fails to switch off during those hours normally reserved for rest. Years ago I dealt with the problem by switching on the local high school radio station, Atherton’s KCEA, which used to play Big Band during the day and the sounds of the surf from 10 PM until 6 AM. Although KCEA can be streamed over the Internet, the sea sounds are gone. (Legend has it that KCEA’s station manager made off with the sea tape during an organizational shakeup.)
The memory of that soothing white noise remains, however, and so I turned to my new audio source—the iTunes Music Store—for a remedy. Pulling up The Store’s Power Search (accessible at the bottom of the Search pop-up menu) I entered Ocean in the Song field and selected New Age from the Genre pop-up menu (as this is how iTunes files ambient sounds). Sure enough, the Top Album hit was Ocean Sounds At Sunset. I gave it a listen and found it too bright for my taste—KCEA’s ocean had more rumble. But I was on the right track.
I then tried a link to that album’s label— Natural Sounds. Huzzah! The Store offered 16 albums by the label, four of which offered some kind of ocean sound. Of these I liked the preview for Sea Moods and Surf & Spray.
I tried to purchase the former and was thwarted by this message:
The latter turned up the same error.
Thankfully, Apple has provided a number of ways for finding related music. One of those is through users’ iMixes. While on the Surf & Spray page I noticed that the top rated iMix that included Surf & Spray was Nature Sounds. Cool. A click later I find Darwin Chamber’s 3D Thunderstorm Environment is pick number one on the iMix and, best of all, unlike every other track in the iMix, this single 30:02 track costs only $0.99. Hey, it may not be the ocean, but at just-under-a-buck I’m willing to give a different flavor of white noise a whirl.
Nice as the storm was, the idea of finding other such bargains on The Store removed any remaining notions of sleep. I was ready to hunt and gather.
I recalled that in the early days of The Store, you could find The Firesign Theatre’s Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers for $0.99 a side. This was widely reported and Apple changed the price so that it could be purchased only by album for $11.99. But it was worth checking to see if other Firesign tracks had escaped Apple’s notice.
Searching under Firesign I discovered that one of FT’s greatest routines, The Further Adventures of Nick Danger had slipped through. This 28:07 track is sold by Album Only when you try to obtain it from the original How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere at All, but if you instead grab it from Firesign’s Shoes for Industry! The Best of the Firesign Theatre, it’s yours for $0.99.
But wait, what’s this? Among the Top Rated iMixes that appears on this page is 10 Minutes for 99¢. Some kind soul had done my work for me by assembling an iMix of 123 tracks, 10 minutes and longer, that can be purchased for $0.99.
Lord have mercy!
At 34:01 Jello Biafra’s The Big Ka-Boom, Pt. 1 is the longest track in the mix. As I prefer Jello’s Mabuhay period to his current stand-up/rant persona, I gave this one a miss. But I couldn’t pass up the four $0.99 tracks from Panthalassa – The Music of Miles Davis 1969 – 1974, a Bill Laswell remix of Miles’ eclectic electric work of the late ’60s and early ’70s. A lot of Miles’ fans slam this period but I’m entranced by its grab-your-throat funk sensibilities ( Rated X, in particular, is monstrous). It was the work of a moment to dock my credit card the $3.96 necessary to download the entire hour’s worth of music.
My night’s work was done. I had just under two hours of admirable audio tucked safely onto my hard drive for the low-low price of $5.95. While I understood that once I wrote about these bargains Apple would likely alter these tracks’ prices, I got mine while the getting was good.
I closed my PowerBook. Closed my eyes. And drifted into a self-satisfied (if somewhat selfish) slumber.