The Every Song in the Library Project

Over a year ago, I started a project centered on listening to everything in TeenLitGirl’s and my music library at least one time through. Because there were a lot of CDs, and not just TLG’s, that I never heard in their entirety, the process has unearthed a bounty of good music we owned that I just hadn’t heard before. One of the things I’ve done has caused the work to go slower than originally expected: any album I hadn’t previously listened to its entirety — a significant number of TLG’s albums fell into this category — required listening at least a few times through. Speed of completion aside, the process also allowed me to gradually assemble a kind of ultimate “good stuff” playlist; one playable on shuffle with my only occasionally skipping a song when the mood wasn’t right.

Working alphabetically by artist name, I just finished our Morrissey albums, and the project now stands at 11,300 songs completed out of 16,660. I wouldn’t call the process a “slog,” but I am a little surprised that about 1/3 of the library remains nearly 14 months after the start date. I honestly thought this would be done by now. However, the number of albums that required multiple replays proved to be larger than expected. New albums by favorite artists, which receive a higher priority, as well as the frequent need to just listen to the familiar and beloved, have also occasionally slowed or stalled progress on the project. On further reflection, maybe it’s more surprising that 2/3 of the library is now completed.

The great thing is that the “good stuff” playlist, even in it’s unfinished state, is already a marvel to listen to. I make regular use of it when in the car (logistically, it’s impossible to properly work on the project while driving) and love the frequent juxtaposition of the “new to my ears” music alongside the well-worn and beloved tracks. It currently contains a little over 4,200 songs, so it’s probably safe to assume that when completed the playlist will have somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,300.

Thank goodness for owning a still functioning iPod Classic; knowing some of the issues I’ve seen with iTunes not properly transferring music to newer devices, it’s a comfort to know my music device contains everything I want it to.

The other interesting aspect of this project is that during this period I have purchased less new music than I have typically done over previous similar time periods. Outside of the artists whose new releases dutifully appear in my library almost immediately upon release — recently, this meant albums by Colin Hay, Barenaked Ladies, & Chris Collingwood (former lead singer of Fountains of Wayne) — there’s just been little need to find new music because I’ve encountered so much of it in our own home. There’s just not enough time to devote to listening to new releases when I already have so much older material to properly acquaint myself with.

Finally, it looks like the project will be finished before the end of the year. This is important because 2018 will mark five years since the completion of TLG’s and my last big music project: compiling a list of each of our 100 favorite songs. We already agreed to revisit and revise the lists we made, and the current project has revealed some rather glaring omissions from my 2013 list — mistakes made in part because the size of the library, even at its size back then, encouraged skimming the titles as well as just trying to remember a song simply by name. When the time comes, I think I’ll have as much fun with the revision as I did the creation of the original list.

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