Tuesday, July 24, 2012

6339 songs

So, a few months back* I started listening to the songs on my iPod -- ALL the songs on my iPod -- in alphabetical order. My thinking was that there's a lot of great music there I never listen to because I don't think about it. It's the problem of too many choices: out of over six thousand songs, which ones do I want to hear at any given time? I can always think of a good starting point, but where to go from there? Janice's solution, and it's a good one, is to hit shuffle and enjoy a mix of what the iPod gives her. But that ironically works better with her mini-iPod than with our old 80-gig iPod: too many recorded books on the latter introduce a jarring note, as one song is followed by a randomly-excerted bit of text (some of which inconveniently run over an hour in length), followed by another song; it breaks up the background-music element of my listen-while-you-work routine.

So, I decided to listen to everything, going under the "Songs" option and starting with #1 ("A" by the Bare Naked Ladies) and ending yesterday, early evening, with #6339 ("10538 Overture" by E.L.O.) -- iPod's alphabetization first running through the alphabet (the vast bulk of the songs, ending in #6129 (Herb Albert's "Zorba the Greek"), then things in foreign scripts --I have a fair number of pieces from anime soundtracks with unrecognizable (to me) titles in kanji. Then last of all came numbers, which included not just songs like "867-5309 but also radio station dial numbers (for use in playing it in the car) and audio recordings I'd made (titled by date) at the 2004 Marquette Blackwelder conference and again at another 2007 Tolkien event.

Of course, I didn't feel obliged to listen literally to 6,339 tracks. Some songs are on there multiple times -- which is fine, when listening to them by album, but can be a bit much when listening to them alphabetically, song by song. I think I really did listen to "Hey Jude" five times in a row, but then I really like Hey Jude (na-na-na-naah), while I think I skipped over some of the multiple versions of "If I Had a Million Dollars", good though that song is.

My conclusion? I have a lot of good music on this old iPod. Not surprisingly, there's a lot of Beatles, and McCartney, but surprisingly there's more Warren Zevon and Bare Naked Ladies than I'd expected and somewhat less Alan Parsons Project or Tears for Fears (given that I have all the latter two's albums). Also, there can't possibly be as many tracks for "Pirates of Penzance" and "Les Miserables" as there seemed to be. There just can't.

Also, that I was wise when starting to build my iTunes account all over again on the new laptop after the old laptop's catastrophic failure a few years back, in that now instead of adding a whole album I only add the songs I like and want to listen to from that album -- which may be the whole thing, or may be a single song.

What's next? I think it's time to dip back into my .45s again when I'm at home and downstairs, though for working-by music they require I be working on a project that benefits by frequent interruption -- which is a rare sort of project indeed. More likely I'll devote worktime music to the albums rather than the singles, many of which I never did replace with cds and most of which still play just fine.

And for the iPod, I'll probably do some shuffle within the songs by a specific artist.

And my next music purchase? That'll probably be the new George Harrison album, which I just found out about a few days ago.

Good listening, all.

--John R

*unfortunately, I didn't make any note of the time.

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