“Songs used to be discrete products from artists to fans; now they’re becoming more like temporary tattoos,” - Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver. FM. - “Music is finally everywhere.” Anyone can play anything in seconds through a myriad of online music services, he says, but “it’s not just the song that matters; it’s the context.”
I have to add that it is not only context but sequence that matters also. The human brain retains music in loops, like neural sand paintings that impress geometric patterns on our short term memory while we search for past associations and emotional meaning. In the days of albums, vinyl and CD we learned the songs in a sequence the artist created intentionally as a flow of imagery and energy. One song’s meaning bleeds into another, the images cross pollinating.
When CD players came out with the random feature, able to move from a song on one album to another and assemble a new sequence, we began to experience our music catalogue in a new light. The shuffle function on the iPod works this way. When we hear a new sequence the songs are refreshed in our minds; the patterns and meaning have evolved, the context has changed.