Perfect Albums

These days, with digital music so easily streamed, albums seem not as central to music as they once were. Artists still make them; it’s even possible to buy vinyl versions of some new albums (there are those who still see vinyl as better than digital), but the industry no longer revolves around the idea.

In any event, a conversation topic I’ve enjoyed starting is the question of one’s perfect albums. Which is not to say one’s favorite albums — the two are not necessarily the same. A perfect album is one where you love — love, not just like — every single tune.

Lists differ, of course. The fun is seeing what people have in common.

It’s interesting just seeing what people select as their perfect albums. It’s a good way to discover new music, and a conversation starter in any case.

There are some restrictions on album eligibility.

A key one is collections — especially best of collections. Such albums typically consist entirely of favorites, and they have a body of work to select from.

A cherished favorite, but disqualified here.

A related restriction involves live concert albums, which usually are also collections of favorites and hits from the artist’s oeuvre.

That means, in addition to Greatest Hits (1988) by Fleetwood Mac (in may regards, the soundtrack of my early 20s), I am forced to also disqualify Hot August Night (1972) by Neil Diamond (both cherished favorites and perfect albums to me).

Some soundtracks are disqualified on similar grounds. Many are collections of existing tunes, which rules them out. Original soundtracks are another matter, and I don’t see a reason to rule out musicals. The requirement is a set of original songs created for that set.

Christmas music is ruled out because it’s all perfect.

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Here are (some of) my perfect albums (the list is not exhaustive):

GracelandPaul Simon (1986)

This is one many have in common. It’s got the well-known hits “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes” and “You Can Call Me Al”, and also “The Boy in the Bubble” and “Under African Skies” (one of my favorites among favorites).

Plus,… well, plus every other song on the album. That’s the point, every song is a winner. None of them make you want to press [Skip]. You know them, love them, sing along with them all (get them stuck in your head for days).

And ya just gotta love that tasty zydeco sound!

(One tip about Paul Simon: Don’t read too much into his lyrics. There is all kinds of meaning, hidden and overt, but he’s said he sometimes uses lyrics just because of the way they sound. For him, sometimes the words are just another musical instrument.)

Special shout out…

…to the four Simon & Garfunkel albums that were my first “rock & roll” albums ever. My dad’s actually, the first two. Given to him by the younger members of his church seeking to expand his musical horizons (my folks were pretty strictly classical and church when it came to music). It was my horizons that expanded.

Some of it’s nostalgia I’m sure, but all four of these, especially the first and last, are perfect albums to me. I had all four piano song books, so I knew (and still know) these tunes well.

The title cut of the last album is especially near and dear. It’s one of my favorite pieces of piano music, and I struggled mightily to learn to play it (and never really quite got there). But what an awesome tune! (See here for a clip.)

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City to CityGerry Rafferty (1978)

Most people of that era remember “Baker Street” (with the great sax solo). As it turned out I love every song on the album — some of them way more than that hit (which got old from over-exposure; it’s the one tune I’m most likely to barely notice now).

Rafferty was in Stealers Wheel, a 1970s band old-timers might remember. They had one huge hit, “Stuck in the Middle with You” (which Quentin Tarantino famously used in Reservoir Dogs).

Sadly, the other Rafferty album I have, Another World, is unremarkable to me. None of the tunes engages me. I’d be inclined to suggest Rafferty “Did a Boston” with City to City, but it’s hard to tell how much is just my taste and how much might be that the album really does stand out (according to the Wiki article, Another World was a departure for Rafferty, so maybe I should give his other work a try).

(In contrast, my favorite Hot Tuna album, Pair a Dice Found (1990) is a departure from their norm, and, while I like their usual stuff just fine, it’s that one-off album I love most.)

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Son of SchmilssonHarry Nilsson (1972)

This has to be one of my favorite albums of all time. If I’m honest, a small part of the original attraction was the profanity, which was new and shocking to me back in the early 1970s. (“You’re breaking my heart. You’re tearing me apart. So fuck you!”)

But the tunes are both funny and great rock, which draws me to them much more than funny tunes with pedestrian musical accompaniment (which, to be honest, is most funny tunes — the emphasis is all on the lyrics).

There is also that the songs speak to me. I’m totally behind the message of “I’d Rather Be Dead (Than Wet My Bed)” and “The Most Beautiful World in the World” always makes me smile.

(And I dearly love “Spaceman” which they delighted me with in Space Force! See my post for a link to the tune.)

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Goodbye Yellow Brick RoadElton John (1973)

It’s funny how much I love this album while at the same time never having been much of an Elton John fan. Which is shouldn’t be taken as any kind of reflection on Elton John. Far from it.

It’s almost a case of ‘so much music, so little time’ — one can’t be into everything that is good. (If my life revolved around music more, it might be different, but music is just one of the things I love and explore. The bottom line is that some things don’t make the cut no matter how good they are.)

For me the star of the album is “Candle in the Wind” — in part because it’s such a good tune, but it part because I really like the piano in it (as with “Bridge Over Troubled Water” it was part of my repertoire long ago).

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Bat Out of HellJim Steinman & Meat Loaf; produced by Todd Rundgren (1977)

This one appears on a lot of peoples’ lists. It has one of the best album covers ever. It spawned two sequel albums (see below) and a musical. It’s one of those Albums Everyone Has Heard Of.

As with Graceland, it has some of the most memorable tunes in rock and roll.

For one: “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth” (it must have been while you were kissing me) has a great title, a great story, and that spoken intro that begins: “On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?”

For another: “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” which also features a spoken part. If you’ve never heard it, you’ve missed one of rock’s fun treats — it contains part of a (fake) baseball game (by a real announcer). Wonderfully connects the dots on “getting to first base.”

The cover is so well known Terry Pratchett referenced it in his Discworld novel Soul Music, which has rock and roll as its central theme.

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Bat Out of Hell IIJim Steinman & Meat Loaf (1993)

This one also has great tunes with memorable titles: “I Would Do anything for Love (But I won’t Do That)”, “Life is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back”, “Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are”, and “Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)”.

If I have a complaint about this album (and I do), it’s the over repetition of hook lines. The latter two tunes listed above are particular offenders. After hearing, for the 30th time, that “objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are,” even in Meat Loaf’s crooning voice, I’m sorely tempted to hit the [skip] button.

So while the tunes are so much fun I have to include the album, this is one is a little marginal. Kinda gets included because the first one is such a classic.

(Showing how out of touch I am these days. There’s a third album. I had no idea.)

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TommyThe Who (1969)

My first exposure, way back in high school, to this double-vinyl was, believe it or not, a library loan. I was enthralled! I listened to it over and over during the loan period. Once I began to have some spending money, it was one of the first albums I bought for myself.

I’ve always been more of a fan of The Who than of the other two major British bands, The Rolling Stones and that other group that was popular. The funny thing is, I was never really into that other group — I liked the Stones more.

That said, no one escaped The Beatles, and I had some albums and, in fact, sheet music for most of their songs (for piano or guitar). There just was no escaping the Fab Four.

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Jesus Christ SuperstarAndrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice (1970)

I used to know every song by heart. (We sang the entire libretto several times while on a high school sponsored trip through Europe back in the 1970s.)

I still have a piano music songbook for it. I used to play most of the tunes. A lot. Loved this opera!

I was especially fond of “Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say)” (which has such a powerful emotional arc), “King Herod’s Song” (which is such a fun honky-tonk tune), and “Everything’s Alright” — they sounded best as piano pieces. Most of the other tunes did better with a bit of orchestral support (there should really be someone on bass guitar for “Heaven on Their Minds” for instance).

§ §

There are some runners up or close misses…

Grateful DeadGrateful Dead (1971)

Commonly known as the “Skull & Roses album,” the title intended by the band but vetoed by the record company is Skull Fuck. Sadly, it’s disqualified due to being a live album.

It doesn’t quite make the list anyway due to a typically indulgent drum solo (that I usually skip), but it’s one of my very favorite albums.

Drum solo aside, it has some really great cuts: “Bertha” (a major fave), their version of Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried”, their version of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”, their version of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”/”Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad”, and — above all, one of my favorite cuts of all time — their version of “Me and Bobby McGee” (which I think is even better than Janis Joplin’s version, and that’s saying a lot).

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The RiverBruce Springsteen (1980)

I went through a whole Bruce Springsteen phase, in part due to unexpectedly seeing him in the concert promoting the album.

But then he got a bit too popular — too revered — for my taste, and some of his later albums didn’t much grab me. (In fact, he did Nebraska in 1982 right after this, and I didn’t care for it. Not what I was looking for. I wanted more rock & roll!)

To be honest, my affection centers on this album. The first two are okay, but his work doesn’t really grab me until Born to Run (1975). The last album I bought was Luck Town (1992), and I’ve pretty much tuned out since.

But this was a favorite album for a long time, and I do love the tunes.

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Oh, Brother Where Art Thou? – soundtrack (2000)

Many of the songs are old traditionals or from America’s past, and the tracks are by a variety of artists, so it’s definitely a collection, but I do love nearly every song on it. Something about it grabs me.

There are some I’m a bit lukewarm on, but others compensate. I especially love the rich harmonies of “Down to the River to Pray” — it’s a powerful tune to begin with and Alison Krauss and company do it justice.

This movie soundtrack is the second time I decided, while watching the movie in the theater, that the very next day I had to go buy the soundtrack.

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The Firm – soundtrack by Dave Grusin (1993)

The movie stands out as the first time the music caught my attention so much I decided I had to go buy the soundtrack the very next day. The thing is, it was background music, which I tend not to notice much.

But in this case, it was the tasty jazz piano by Grusin that caught my ear.

The soundtrack album alternates between Grusin’s original material for the film and cuts by other artists that were included in the film. An eye-opener for me involved some of the other artist stuff. I had to watch the film again to realize they were tunes briefly playing on radios in the background.

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Honorable mention to Little Big Town and David Gray. In both cases, I love most of the cuts on all their albums, and a lot of cuts I love a lot.

Little Big Town, especially, has had serious staying power with me. I was a Fleetwood Mac fan, and I like do country/rock, so they’re a hit with me.

David Gray was a discovery I may have over-indulged in to the point of over-dosing. Hard to say if that’s over-exposure or exhausting the interest. Time will tell.

§ §

On the flip side, there are albums where I love only one tune. Albums I bought because I heard and really liked a tune but wasn’t generally familiar with the artist. And then it turned out I only liked that one tune.

But that’s a post for another day.

Stay musical, my friends!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

15 responses to “Perfect Albums

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Sorry about the length, but this is a topic I can go around and around on all day… 😉

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    I’m a music moron so I don’t have much constructive to add.

    On not reading too much into the Paul Simon lyrics, I actually rarely hear the lyrics as words. For one, I usually have trouble making out what they are. And I’m with Simon on being more about how they sound. (Maybe if I could pick out the lyrics, I’d be more of a music person.)

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I’ve noticed that music doesn’t seem much a part of your experience. (Mom was a music teacher, so I learned early.)

      Do you have hearing issues that prevent you from hearing the lyrics, or do you hear normally otherwise? I know a lot of people with perfectly good hearing who still struggle to decipher lyrics. I’ve heard people with good hearing also complain about how they mix movie soundtracks today (dialog too soft, noises too loud), so there might be something going on. (A lot of YouTube videos have an obnoxiously loud musical background topic, often in videos that don’t need a musical background at all.)

      I have a congenital severe hearing loss (plus tinnitus), so that’s been a thing all my life. Gotten worse in my old age (and no doubt due to loud music contributing). I’ve never been lyric-aware, although I go back far enough that vinyl album liner notes often had lyrics. (And these days they’re online when I do care to find out the words.)

      For me, music has always just been music. Exactly as for you and Paul Simon, the words are just another melodic line to me (unless I’ve learned them by reading them, which is true for the albums mentioned in the post).

      That’s why some artists don’t do much for me while others do. The ones I like tend to be musically rich and sophisticated. In a few cases, the artists I like don’t even do lyrics (or, if they do, the lyrics really aren’t at all the point). But then there are artists who are more storytellers or lyricists. It can be the other way around for them; the lyrics are the important part, the music is secondary, even mediocre. (Rap is a good example. It’s so lyrically oriented I file it under Poetry more than Music. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen, are all storytellers first. I like Springsteen when he’s also a musician, and he’s a very good one.)

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I generally hear well (although like most people, I’ve picked up some tinnitus over the decades), but I’ve always had trouble making out lyrics in most music. I also have trouble hearing people in loud crowds or bars. For me, it’s more a matter of filtering out the right thing.

        I’ve definitely had issues with the way some movies are mixed in their initial streaming release. I end up having to crank the TV speakers and lower the surrounding speakers so I can follow what’s being said. In some extreme cases, I’ve had to turn on the captions. I’ve noticed that it tends to eventually get corrected, presumably after people have complained.

        There are some artists that I often can make out what they’re saying, like Springsteen. But most sound like a muffled mess to me, and I end up judging the whole song on an instrumental basis.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Which, as I mentioned, is where I’ve lived my whole life! I have the advantage of a musical background, though, which makes the instrumental part meaningful.

        There is that canonical expression by “old fogies” to the extent that ‘young folks music all sounds the same’ but I used to think that about my parent’s classical. They could hear a brief section of a classical piece and identify it immediately. To me it all sounded the same. I couldn’t see how that was possible.

        But then I realized I could hear a short section of the tunes I’ve listened to for years and identify it immediately, whereas my parents had the same blindness to my music that I did theirs. It really is a matter of familiarity and training. There is the same world of trained intuition here as there is in any deep subject. It was an interesting epiphany.

        I don’t know if you’ve ever had your hearing thoroughly tested, but you might have some sort of loss when it comes to lyrics and such. Or not. Many people have trouble in crowd situations, and, as we’ve been discussion, media soundtracks are often problematic. (For a season or two, whoever was in charge of the promo and recap moments during Twins baseball games, was mixing in the aggressive metal rock background way too hot. It was often hard to hear the announcer over the churning guitar. As someone who has produced media, it makes me want to give someone a good thrashing about the head and shoulders.)

        When it comes to TV, it’s been headphones and Closed Captions for many years now. (Loving having wireless headphones!) Back when I was still going to movie theaters (which ended way pre-COVID), I usually had to watch movies twice. Once in the theater with my buddy, and that time I only had access to the visuals and loudest dialog. A second time, if I liked the film, on a TV with CC so I could pick up the dialog (and, in some cases, the plot). It’s an interesting test of a highly visual medium if one can watch a story, miss most of the dialog, and still keep up with the plot.

        In fact, the problem with CC is that one tends to “read” the story rather than watch it, so that split mode thing had some benefits. I definitely notice more visually with the CC off.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I had my hearing tested as a boy. At the time, it was found to be fine. But my issues hearing lyrics go back at least that far, so it seems congenital.

        I do have some ability to recognize songs after hearing just a little bit, but it’s rarely to the point I can name the song or artist. But I do have that ability with a lot of movies. In many cases, show me a few seconds and I can name them. (At least if it made any impression.)

        It generally annoys me to have to use the CC, for exactly the reasons you note. It causes me to miss a lot. I usually turn it off unless there’s a lot I can’t make out, because when it’s on, it’s hard to avoid reading it.

        I once watched a German film with subtitles (Stalingrad). The DVD had an option for an English track, which I initially turned on. But I couldn’t turn off the subtitles. The issue was that the English track faithfully translated the vulgarity in the original (it was soldiers in a war) while the subtitles cleaned it up. The discrepancy was extremely distracting. I ended up having to turn the English track off.

        Roku used to have a feature that I loved. It was a 15 second rewind button. When you hit it, CC was turned on, but only for those 15 seconds. So if you missed a piece of dialog and hit the rewind, you’d be able to read it if the audio couldn’t be made out. They got rid of it, replacing it with very seldom used shortcut buttons.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        That Roku feature is pretty sweet; a clever idea!

        Subtitles in foreign films is a whole thing. They can be especially interesting in Asian films due to Eastern languages being so different from Western ones. Some things are hard to translate effectively. Dubbing adds another layer, and it’s one I shun. I want to hear the original voices and intonations of the actors (I do see the irony in that). Dubs generally range from “laughably awful” to “not horrible” although sometimes they raise to “well done” with good voices and direction. Generally I’ll only watch a dub if forced. Having been stuck with CC for decades, reading subtitles is something I’m used to.

        (Plus I went through a whole Asian martial arts phase and watched a lot of Asian films. Watched a fair number of foreign films during my student filmmaker days, too. I still think, generally speaking, movies are an American art form, although that’s changed in the last decades, and there were always good filmmakers worldwide.)

        There was a time (and I used to test this by flipping channels into a re-run) I could watch any 60 seconds of any TOS episode and tell you which one it was (the title, which season, a detailed plot synopsis, much of the dialog,…). A while ago I realized I’d lost that ability, but I still remember most of them. (Musically, there are some bands that I know well enough to identify tunes they’ve done I don’t know but recognize by the band’s very identifiable musical style. Boston, U2, Journey, and a few others are like that — very recognizable.

        I think I’ve mentioned I have a trick mind when it comes to stories. I tend to forget them fairly quickly (unless I focus and essentially take notes). I forget in the sense of not being able to say what happens with any detail, but if I read (or watch) the story again, I remember it as it goes along. I remember what I learned or gathered, along with my opinion of the book, but my mind just doesn’t seem to bother storing any details when it comes to fiction.

        But it does make re-reading and re-watching a lot more fun for me than it seems for some other people (I know you’ve mentioned you almost never return to material).

        Hearing tests when I was a boy were quite different than they are now. As a kid, I could see the doctor manipulating the sound machine — I knew when I was supposed to hear something. No one had made it clear to me the real goal (or if they did I didn’t hear it), and I thought tests were something one was supposed to do well with, so I cheated. Which probably made my hearing chart look very strange, but also had the effect of masking how severe the problem actually was. I faked my way through a vast part of my childhood — which resulted in my having really good debugging skills, since my brain has wired itself to figure out what’s going on around me based on unreliable data.

        Now you’re put in a booth with no view of the doctor and they have all sorts of ways of insuring the test is accurate. Plus now I realize the goal is to discover my hearing, not ace a test. I’ve never looked into what Minnesota considers “legally deaf” (it’s a state-level determination usually) but I’m probably not far away.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        A lot of foreign film connoisseurs, particularly of Asian films, stay away from the dubs. My take is that the dubs have gotten much better in recent decades. I’ve watched them both ways but usually don’t find it problematic unless I switch between them. (It can be disconcerting when the same actor from another movie is paired with a different voice actor.)

        On you and stories, in general, it seems much easier for us to recognize something we’ve seen before than to retrieve it. For example, most of us can instantly recognize a dollar bill, and will often notice if something’s not right about it. But ask a typical person to draw one, and you’ll get something with very little detail.

        I used to re-read and re-watch a lot of stuff when I was younger. I’ll still occasionally rewatch a movie if it’s on TV. I remember my dad never going back and revisiting anything, and finding that incomprehensible. But as I’ve gotten older, the same attitude has set in. It now has to have been several years since I’ve seen something for me to seek out it out again. I discovered it with my DVD collection, which mostly gathered dust, even before everything went HD and streaming.

        I can’t remember much about my hearing tests. They were too long ago. I know they happened in a university lab, but can’t recall anything about the protocols. They also tested my visual perception and found I had a depth perception issue. (My eyes were crossed when I was young and I had to have corrective surgeries. But it apparently wasn’t early enough to give me normal depth perception. I often can’t see visual illusions that depend on it.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Dubs have gotten better in the major foreign films. In some cases, they’ve even used the original actors, but that’s rare. Yet it’s the only case I’d be happy listening to. I’ve seen a few Jackie Chan films (I was a huge fan of his) where he did his own dub. But normally, if there’s an original language track, that’s what I pick.

        Good point about the dollar bill. I’ve seen similar demonstrations involving maps of one’s local area. That said, I do notice a difference between what others retain and what I do. As I’ve put it, a lot of content seems “to go in one brain lobe and right out the other.” It might have something to do with most of my reading being for escape, and one of the things I’m escaping from is my analytical mind. [shrug]

        With re-reading or re-watching, it might have something to my background in performance and production. Or with music, for that matter. In all cases there is lots of repetition. Deciding how to direct or shoot something requires lots of going over the material until one knows every word. Learning lines, or learning a character, also requires that immersion. It seems like a serious study of storytelling needs the kind of understanding that comes from detailed study. The thing is, those works I revisit usually show me new things each time.

        The trade-off, obviously, is that everything one re-watches or re-reads is one less new thing to watch or read, so I suppose it depends on the goal. It’s been decades since I deep-dived for analysis (I did kinda get into it with Westworld season one), but there are beloved works I sometimes revisit.

        (I mentioned I’m reading a lot of Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot. I read most of that way back when I was first getting into mysteries (but really don’t remember any of them). The most common case is probably books or shows I’ve seen once long ago and have recently revisited “for old time’s sake” so to speak. It’s only things like Dune or Discworld or a handful of others I’ve revisited many times. OTOH, I’ve probably read most of the books in my library twice.)

        Can you see those stereoscopic “3D” illusions that were big for a while?

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        As an aspiring writer, I do pay attention to story techniques, both in books and movies. I actually look at my watch a lot when watching movies, not because I’m bored, but to note key story structure events. But I’m generally able to do that without going through it again. I also pay attention to where I am in books on key events. It means I rarely ever just have the pure experience of story anymore. (Which sounds a lot worse than it is.)

        On stereoscopic illusions, it depends on the specific illusion, but often I can’t. Usually on the ones where you’re supposed to look at a pattern for a minute and an image is supposed to jump out, I never see the image.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        It may have to do with how I retain things (or don’t). Do you find, when you do re-watch or re-read, that you don’t pick up anything you didn’t the first time through?

        Someone once asked me if training in filmmaking ruined films for me. In a way, a little, as you say the experience lacks a purity it once had, but there is added richness that usually more than balances that out.

        The trick with those stereoscopic illusions is focusing your eyes beyond the image. That’s why you’re supposed to just look and relax into it. The idea is getting into “long gaze” mode where your eyes are focused on the horizon. It’s an interesting trick, but the “image” is just as if whatever background they use was cut into the desired shape and the cut-out was a bit in front of the background. Like some optical pop-up book. It’s kinda interesting once, but it got old fast.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Usually when I reread or rewatch, it’s to get the experience again rather than to get new information. I’m sure I do pick up new information, but I guess for me it’s a diminishing marginal return.

        Kids like to rewatch movies over and over. (I did too when I was a kid. I rewatched Star Wars fifteen times.) I think they do get new information each time. But as adults, we tend to quickly categorize everything. It probably means I take in a lot less detail than when I was younger.

        My friends always assumed I wasn’t doing the stereoscopic thing right. I can usually only see a minority of them. But I’m usually able to see other types of illusions, including ones that require following instructions. All I can say is that with the stereoscopic ones, in most cases, no matter how carefully I follow the instructions, I usually can’t see it.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        The thing I’ve wondered about kids watching something over and over is whether it’s the familiarity they crave. They often know all the dialog and plot details very well. My guess is that their neural nets are so busy all the time learning so many new things that relaxing with something where they know what happens next is relaxing.

        I was very struck by how Ted Chiang touched on this in “Story of Your Life” — he also invokes stage plays, which are often repeated hundreds of times. He points out there is something in enacting the performance, even when the lines and plot are known, which I think is true. Kids also like hearing the same bedtime story over and over, too. A known comfort to fall asleep to.

        I think a difference between stereoscopic illusions and other optical illusions is that stereoscopic ones depend on the physical geometry of sight, whereas most optical illusions involve some aspect of how the brain processes vision. The stereoscopic illusions are external, and I think seeing them is strictly a physical trick. It might be like curling one’s tongue — whether one can or cannot depends on genetics. Or maybe whatever you suffered with your eyes made an impact.

        Speaking of optical illusions, there’s that YouTube channel (Maths Town) with all the Mandelbrot zooms. Some of those go on for over an hour zooming deeply down, but most are more like 30 minutes plus or minus. Thing is, one is staring at a constant zoom in, so when one looks away, there is a strong illusion that whatever you look at is moving towards towards you (although it obviously isn’t).

        There are reverse zooms that start deep in and zoom out, and there the illusion is reversed. For several seconds, whatever you look at appears to be moving away from you. It’s a weird illusion — a strong sense of motion where none exists.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    I’ve been listening to Steely Dan the last two mornings during my walk, and I might have to give their catalog honorable mention, too. I really like nearly everything they ever did.

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