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September 08, 2011



nice insight. thanks

Ricky Grove

Man, if I were a DJ that's exactly how I'd play out. Like a jazz musician riffing on each new rhythm as it comes up. Sweet


Sounds really fun. "Bad Beatles" was an exception of course.


What about the dreaded "dead air"? What if nothing pops into your mind or you can't find the song you want to hear? The pressure of having to play "something" is what scared me away from being a DJ. Sure, you can play "anything" but that pressure to play something can be pretty intense. I'm past the point now of having to hear something anyway. Listening to something nice is fine but I don't need to follow it with another. I'm getting old... Silence is fine too.

And you don't alphabetize your records/CDs? So how do you ever find something you want to play? Doing that with 45s would get old fast. OK, spontaneous has it's place but organized does too.


John L


Finally I understand why there's no archive playlist! #comfortablewithlabelsandmaps

Jonathan M

That's good information, but it's only half the story.

I'd really like to know how Gaylord developed the background to be familiar with the music he plays. Does he consistently spend a lot of time listening to music? Did he acquire his knowledge when he was younger?

Gaylord's not big on disclosures, so we may never know.


Having a portrait drawn by Adrian Tomine is already pretty cool.

Gaylord Fields

@ lipwak,

The proof is in the pudding, isn't it? I have yet in my 19 years on WFMU allowed dead air to creep over the airwaves due to indecision. (Fumbling with CD players is a different story!) Yet the instance has never arisen when i've have nothing to play. There's always something that will work. As for spontaneous vs. organized, what would work best for you wouldn't be best for me, as you say yourself. The very unusual musical brain i seem to possess is where all the organization takes place, not in the physical realm. I wouldn't do it this way if it didn't work, and as i point out, i like the results better than if i pre-plan.

@ Laura,

It's a big distraction to do a live playlist when i'm in my "radio show trance." Also, the evanescent relationship i have with my show — before, during and after — is another reason i don't normally do playlists. Also, unlike the show-planning DJs who have time to gestate, my spontaneous and intuitive decisions don't lend themselves to rumination on my part afterward: Any given song is here one minute (or two, or five) and gone the next.

@ Jonathan M,

As you indicate, i've revealed much more than i usually do in just describing my process. Being a paradoxically private person who happily operates in the public sphere, i don't know if i'm that comfortable in talking about my musical history. I do drop a few hints on how my brain works in the preceding replies. You can probably extrapolate from there.

Duncan Walls

I can relate. Did years of on and off on a local college station(s) and followed the same proceedure. Also did it hen I DJ'd dances. I was used to 'carrying' at least four long orange crates (about 150 12" singles per), 100 + CDs (in the later years) and Cassingles (when they were HOT). I purposefully keep them unsorted mostly to prevent folks from looking at them and pulling out 'requests'. That allowed me to remain open to inspiration and yess, every once in a while there was a little dead air in every situation. But when it flowed it FLOWED organically and by in large WORKED.


Thanks, Gaylord. Yes, it works for you and so many others and that's great.

(Further philosophical ruminations that may be better suited to another thread...)

I'm curious though to hear any explanations for why one feels the need to play music back to back for X hours. I used to feel that way but have forgotten what it's like. I'm curious to hear how others explain this compulsion. What is this power music/sound has over us that we give in to it like an addict? And when you don't do it, how long is it before you crave doing it again? I went through that from my teens 'til some time in my 40s. All I wanted to do was listen to music. I tried to figure it out then but I'd be curious to hear what others think of this affliction/wonderful obsession. Now I can see a song/tune here and there but 2 or 3 hours of back to back with very few breaks? That ain't natural especially when done for years. On the other hand, people do it professionally and otherwise in all kinds of forms (musicians, etc).

And do you think better (more clearly) when listening to music/sound as opposed to with nothing going on? I do. I get more done, move on with my life, yet I love music/sound too and "think differently" when I'm listening.

Is it because we want to be distracted? Do we yearn for that perfect sound because we realize we live imperfect lives and this brings us closer to a better life? It is a sort of spiritual quest, isn't it? Indulgence sometimes too.

(Who's written about this elsewhere? Who/what should I look up? FMU DJs would be the best sources for reflections on this kind of stuff since we've listened to them for so many years.)


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