ALTERNATE REALITIES: Yesterday I went into my usual Starbucks and it took me a moment to notice that it was the store stereo, and not my iPod, that was playing Elliott Smith's exquisite "Waltz #2." You know that feeling you get when you unexpectedly hear a moderately obscure song -- not necessarily unknown, but also not the kind of thing you'd expect to hear on the radio or covered on Idol -- that you love? It feels almost personal, like Starbucks or Shonda Rhimes or Josh Schwartz secretly dug deep into your musical fossil record, past the .aacs and the .mp3s and into the CDs, maybe to the ones you bought in longboxes, and maybe even to the vinyl/cassette strata. In the back of my head, I know that before the music reaches my ears it's wrung through a complex algorithm where art and nostalgia are only two of the inputs and commerce is several, but still. Great feeling.
Today I went into my usual Starbucks and it was playing a woman's falsetto reggae version of Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight." I guess the best gifts are precious because they're rare.