This is the second installment (see August 16, 2001 for the first) in a continuing series of day logs on the influence of downloadable music on my music-buying habits. If that seems like a frivolous line of investigation, well, you're probably right. But music is a serious part of my frivolous life--has been for thirty years--and it's obvious that the methods I used to learn of good music, back then, are not those that I use now. Back then, it was all about radio, music magazines, random shows, friends...things that aren't in my life much anymore. Radio, I (barely) wake up to--used to keep it on all night at work, but reception at my current job is pathetic. Years of reading the music press have taught me how poorly it covers its beat, and how little it can be trusted. Thanks to the graveyard shift, live music and friends have all but disappeared from my orbit.

So how am I finding new music? Not through the standard route for many of you--MTV and the like; I recently became a television owner for the first time in 14 years and cable seems like something I shouldn't be trusted with. Although I'm not a Napster user, the Internet does appear to be one of my few remaining resources for music information. The question is: Will it make me go out and buy music that I like, the way that defenders of pirated music say it will?

In this episode, there are, again, two CDs to talk about. I downloaded a live recording of Yo La Tengo's "From A Motel 6" and enjoyed it enough--all raucous and grating, with a hint of vaguely pop-y jangling--to want more. I went hunting on the Web and immediately found a huge collection of more live tracks, all cover versions, and grabbed a few of the songs that I already knew. So far, so good. Finally, I got a chance to stop at the Virgin Megastore on my way to work and bought their 1993 release, Painful. What the fuck?! It's a sure-fire sleep-inducer, other than the studio version (which isn't as good) of "Motel 6" and maybe a couple of other tracks. I mean, I already have some Dream Syndicate and Sonic Youth stuff--you know?--and both of them give the styles on this disc a better work-out! So that was disappointing.

Well, since this is a comparison shopping feature, I had to get something that I had heard of by some means other than the Web--so I picked up Jim Campilongo And The Ten Gallon Cats' self-titled disc from 1996. This was one of the things I had been struggling to wake up to on the clock radio a couple of years ago, but you can't blame them for that--I sleep heavy. These guys feature guitar, bass, pedal steel and drums (no singer) arrangements with a lot of imagination, and good taste, too. Equal parts jazz and country swing, for Danny Gatton fans and anyone who:

There you have it--the Internet struck out, this time; radio is ahead 2 to 1. Then again, a web page did sell me something, and would I have remembered to buy the other disc if I wasn't doing this evaluation? To be continued...

Another thing this kind of w-u is good for is discovering all the stuff you were sure had to be already noded, and isn't.