I finally got my new car – a Jeep Wrangler. (My grandson said that a Jeep would be the last car he thought I would ever own. But note this, Ben: I had my first off-road Jeep experience when I found myself trapped behind some golf carts at a restaurant and had to drive across a lawn to park.) The car came with Sirius installed – a satellite radio program with over 100 channels (if that’s what they are called). I get it free for six months. After that, it’s about $15 per month.
I’m not planning on subscribing, but for the next few months, or until I crash the car while looking at the dashboard monitor, I will be exploring the options that Sirius is offering.
My first observation is that there is lots of music that I really don’t like at all. Lots of kinds of music – the stations each have names, so each one, I suppose, is a different kind. Most involve some mutation of the pop genre, or perhaps what we used to call “rock,” though it now seems more electrified/digitized. There are over a hundred stations, many of them named after musicians I’ve never heard of.
A few of them, however, made me linger. There’s one devoted to the Beatles, though usually when I go there I find people talking about them rather than playing their music. There’s another named for Frank Sinatra that I’m rather fond of. It features various folks singing songs from The American Songbook – classic semi-jazz vocals from mid-20th century. The jazz channels don’t feature the jazz I like – Miles, Diz, Dave Brubeck, Count Basie and the like, also rooted in the last century. I suppose I am rooted there, too, as I am also drawn to channels with the word “vinyl” in their name.
Kim and I were also drawn to the Bluegrass channel, though after about half an hour it got a little annoying. The lyrics were fun, however, and I am always impressed by banjo musicianship. And I’ve also, thanks to Kim, become fond of some of the Country channels, perhaps as a relief from the soup of pop and rock that dominate Sirius. I confess that these country channels may be appealing because they seem to go with my new Jeep. Did I mention that it performs well off-road? I also spent ten good minutes in Margaritaville.
I have very little interest in the channels that feature people talking about sports teams. My indifference may be because we have moved away from Ann Arbor and Gainesville. I may resume my interest in sports when college football resumes, though for me it’s more about checking the scores than watching the games, and my interest certainly does not extend to hearing discussions of teams or games.
On one drive back from Traverse City I located a couple of comedy channels, and I heard a couple of good stand-up routines, and some of their jokes may appear, unacknowledged, in my blog. But all of that raucous behavior, sometimes crude, started to wear thin. And too much laughing. And the comedy channels have commercials – not funny!
So far, I have not found the poetry channel, or the one that features bird songs. These might involve something called “podcasts,” but I suspect the lease on my Jeep will expire before I figure out how to find and listen to them, and that’s ok, because they might distract me from my driving. And fortunately, I have not found one with political discussions – fortunately, because such a channel might lead me to deliberately drive off the road into one of our picturesque lakes.
After a couple of weeks of Sirius, I find myself channel surfing – a danger when I’m driving. Eventually, if I can find the right button, I go back to my old standby radio choice – the local NPR station. I think I drive better when that is on.
As a side effect, I find that Alexa is somewhat jealous of Sirius. More and more often she interjects herself into a conversation we are having in the dining room, perhaps to remind us that she is part of our family, and she resents this interloper in the car.