The Every Song in the Library Project, Part 2

It’s been four months since I last discussed the “Every Song in the Library” project, so I thought I would make an update. I’m now 13,401 songs in (current track: Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.”), and 4,746 of those have ended up in my “Good Stuff Only playlist. However, the progress isn’t quite as great as it seems. Because of new additions to the library, a little less than 1/3 of it still remains. It’s no longer a certainty that I will complete the project by the end of the year.

The sheer amount of “new” music continues to impede the progress. Whether it’s a recent purchase, an album of Sally’s I’ve never listened to before, or a CD from which, for whatever reason, I previously only bothered to listen to a few select tracks from, I want to give everything I haven’t heard at least a few listens before moving on. Finding good music that we already owned, but that I just wasn’t familiar with, was one of the primary reasons for this project, thus dictating this level of thoroughness. Yet, there are times when it feels like the some albums just aren’t receiving the the level of attention they deserve.

Case in point: Randy Newman’s The Best of Randy Newman. This is an album where I previously only listened to the few songs I knew. I might have given the remainder of the album a cursory play or two back when it was purchased, but otherwise, no real recollection of those songs. Over the past couple days, I’ve played the album in its entirety a few times, and the effort has yielded a couple new-to-me additions to the “Good Stuff” playlist. Sticking to the methodology I’ve used throughout the process means moving on to the next album. Yet, it feels like that the album deserves to be thoroughly listened to at least few more times — there may be a few other gems on there that belong in the playlist. I’d like to do that, but I also want to complete this project, which I started 18 months ago, as soon as possible.

The Best of Randy Newman is just one of many albums that demands further listening. The real problem is the calcification in my musical taste. I noticed it starting a little over 10 years ago, and it’s only become more pronounced with time. It can be overcome, but that usually requires spending more time with each song and/or album. While some songs and albums can still make a positive impression with just a few listens, others take twice as many, if not more. It’s an easy effort to make when it’s just a new album every month or two, but this particular project entails lots of new music. Albums like Newman’s make it difficult to strike a balance between listening carefully and maintaining some kind of decent pace. I’m sure that some great songs are getting bypassed because they needed another chance or two, but completing this project sometime mid-to-late next year seems too far away.

Thankfully, there plenty of songs and albums that, thanks to familiarity, require just one listening before moving on to the next. However, a quick scan of the artists to come shows that most of the names I’m most familiar with are already done. So, plenty of  unfamiliar material remains. Maybe there’s a chance of visiting albums like Newman’s after the project is completed, but given the number of other unfinished projects waiting for my attention, I don’t know how likely that is.

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