My yellow headphones for my iPod have started sounding scratchy sometimes. I don’t know if the ipod’s audio jack is getting worn, if the remote is causing the problem, the cell phone in the same pocket is interfering, or some combination. But I thought it might be time to get some new headphones. The best small headphones I ever had were the ones that came with my Sony CD Player that I bought in 1990 or 91 at the same time as Jeb. They kind of go in your ear, but just barely and they had three hinges so they would fold up. I found out later they are called vertical in-ear headphones. When I bought the yellow ones I was looking for something similar but they weren’t quite the same (didn’t fold). Then I found a review on the Macintosh newsletter, Tidbits, that mentioned Sony MDR-A44L’s as being pretty good. So I found those at Amazon for $19. Then I checked buy.com where they were only $16 plus they were giving 10% off that day. Shipping was $6, but on orders over $25 you could get free shipping. I had been thinking about getting one of Elton John’s older albums, so I started looking for those to put me over the minimum.
Elton John is one of those musicians whose star shines off an on, but mostly it is on and has been pretty bright for 30 years. I used to listen to his Greatest Hits album all the time, as much as Simon and Garfunkel’s. I got his second Greatest Hits album and never thought it was quite as good. But somehow a song like Tiny Dancer didn’t appear on either, which was just crazy. The movie Almost Famous brought a new audience to some of those older songs and also introduced me to “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters”. Then Jeb wrote about his new Bruce Springsteen tribute CD and referenced his Elton John tribute CD and that got me going to iTunes to see if I should buy some of the missing older music and maybe discover more. I had put a couple of songs in my cart a couple of weeks ago but never checked out.
AllMusic gives 5 stars to 1971’s Tumbleweed Connection, 1972’s Honky Chateau, and 1975’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboys. 1973’s Goodbye Yellowbrick Road got 4.5 stars and it’s one of my favorite albums (AllMusic definitely trends towards an artist’s earlier and often less commercial work). Yellow Brick Road has some huge hits, but even the little songs can be really great like “All the Girls Love Alice” and “Sweet Painted Lady”. Given that and the fact that some of those early albums were concept albums, I started thinking I should just get all 3. At buy.com the albums were about $16 each which I didn’t feel like paying even though I would rather have the CD’s. At iTunes they were $9.99 each (actually one of those was only $6.99 there). But then I noticed the ones at buy.com were SACD’s which I’m not even sure I can play. Looking further down the 10 pages of search results for Elton John I found the regular CD’s for $8.99 each. Jackpot! So I bought all three of the five-star albums (my book version of AllMusic gives 4 stars to all of them but Tumbleweed which got 5). When I checked out my shopping cart they were still charging for shipping. Somehow the headphones weren’t qualifying for free shipping. So I wound up adding a couple of cables (a mini headphone connector and a RCA to mini) to get over $25 and that got me back to free shipping. I wasn’t going to pay $7 to ship some $16 headphones, so I just didn’t get those. The yellow ones were okay last time I used them.
But the CD’s should be pretty good. Or not. I went on a similar buying spree for Led Zeppelin albums and in retrospect I should have stayed away from Led Zep 3. It’s encouraging though. Today I found a list Rolling Stone put together of the Top 500 albums of all time and all three of these albums were on it (at 463, 367, and 158 chronologically), along with Yellow Brick Road (91) and even the Greatest Hits album (135).