Category Archives: Music

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.

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.