My oldest son, Jacob, recently bought some new piece of hardware for his computer. Included in the shipment was a card for 100 free music downloads. For kids growing up in the age of CD burning and JumpDrives, this was no big deal to him. For his mother, who catagorizes her CD collection, whose high school friends used to mess with her by putting her cassettes in “un-alphabetical” order, and who has never downloaded anything but free music downloads, this was huge. Like a good son, he gave the card to me!

Now I’ll admit, I would rather have one CD complete with the original case than 10 downloaded ones, but free is free, and I’ll take it. The free downloads came from eMusic. Here’s the lowdown on eMusic from Wikipedia:

eMusic differs from other well-known subscription music services (such as Napster and Rhapsody) in that the files available for download are in the MP3 format, making them fully iPod-compatible and free from digital rights management software restrictions (such as expiration, copying or CD-burning limitations). While lauded by many, the lack of DRM encoding and low price model have made the service unable to carry material from most major music labels, leading it to specialize in indie rock and pop, jazz, electronica, and classical music.

In other words, your typical top-40 album (can I still call it that?) isn’t going to be there, which means I’m having to work a little harder to find what I want. It’s actually kind of fun, especially since it’s not costing me anything. I have not researched everything about these groups or read every lyric they’ve ever sung, so forgive me if there’s something I should know about them that I don’t. Here’s some of what I’ve found:

Tres Chicas: Sweetwater – This is kind of like Dixie Chicks without the baggage. A couple of favorites are the title song and “Deep as Your Pocket,” a Loretta Lynn remake that is fun, fun, fun!

I was thrilled to find Ray Charles’s Genius Loves Company CD, which I’ve wanted for a while. While listening to this I picture the older, jolly Ray filming those Georgia lottery commercials with little kids instead of the younger man he was when recording many of his big hits. It’s an album he recorded just shortly before his death. It’s not going to replace my The Very Best of Ray Charles, which is amazing (although I almost never listen to the last three tracks), but I’m certainly enjoying it.

Jimmie Vaughan’s Do You Get the Blues? is possibly my favorite of the three. It turns out that it won the 2001 Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album. I cannot listen to it and sit still – it’s simply impossible. My favorite cut is probably The Deep End, which I’m dangling off of much of the time.

I think eMusic will give you 25 free downloads just for trying them. Have fun!

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