iTunes Diaries, entry #10: “In the Waiting Line” by Zero 7

I was once a little…um, okay, terribly obsessed with iTunes.  I got my first iPod in 2004 and became immediately entranced by Apple’s seeming infinite lists of music for sale.  Over the years, I spent way too much time on iTunes and spent way too much money on music, some of which was great, and some of which was not.  In 2011, for the sake of my sanity and my bank account, I went cold turkey.  I suspended my iTunes activities and completely stopped visiting site.  With the iTunes Diaries, I take a look back, highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly in music that I just had to have in the moment. 

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I’ve been on a mid/downtempo kick lately. Through the happy veins of Pandora, I’ve traveled along a few trails left by a number of DJs, and one of the ones I’ve enjoyed the most recently is that of Mark Farina, the man behind my new favorite music series’ Mushroom Jazz. But I’m not here to talk about shrooms or jazz, though they seem a likely duo. From these travels I recently picked up a single song that sums up well my journey so far: “In the Waiting Line” by Zero 7.

For better or worse, I’ve always gravitated towards songs with drive. Fast songs. Upbeat songs. Songs that make you wanna get up and move! It’s not that I dislike ballads and slow songs, but it’s taken me longer to appreciate them. When I find something less beat-worthy that I really enjoy, it’s usually got a little drive behind it, a haunting drive that propels the song into other-worldliness. (For me, this describes almost the whole of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.) I like slower songs that make me stop and reflect about something other than myself or the moment. This is “In the Waiting Line” from Zero 7’s album Simple Things.

Before they popped up on my Pandora, I had only heard of Zero 7 in very broad circles of electronica. A couple of guys who favored ambient, acid jazz, and such who often worked with other artists. “In the Waiting Line'” as I’ve since discovered is probably one of their better known songs, and for good reason. Whiles it fits perfectly in the downtempo genre, it’s also got hints of accessible pop. And it’s got drive, a lilting drive that rests counter to what’s spoken in the lyrics.

Speaking of which, oh, those lyrics! I’m not one to get too over analytical when it comes to words, but this song spoke to my core. The first time I heard it was at work. About the only time I get to listen to music there is when I’m doing heavy rounds of stuff on the computer. As I sat there one day plugged into Pandora and mired in databases and projects piled on projects, “In the Waiting Line” came on. Pandora is great at throwing in the occasional surprise, and this was no exception. As its first tones started, I remember double checking to see if my playlist had suddenly changed. (But no, it was still properly set.) As I sat there listening, my hands moved away from the keyboard, and I just listened. The drifting beat drew me in and the words kept me there. From the lyrics, I interpreted a sense of infinite forlorn. Being taken advantage of. Being left behind. Feeling like there was no end to it. Everything I had been feeling at my computer that day was in that song. I quickly bookmarked the song and it haunted me for the rest of the day. I knew it had to be on my iPod, and I made it so later that same evening.

I’m still working on formulating a great mid/downtempo playlist. I’ve got several more Pandora bookmarks waiting for my attention. And I’m working on obtaining the whole Mushroom Jazz series. But no matter what I find, the truthful allure of “In the Waiting Line” will remain the cornerstone.

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