Talking about music with a friend a while back, I got to thinking about what I do to revisit music that has lain fallow in my giant morass of MP3s.* When you have 41.9 days worth of music, it’s easy to forget to listen to an album, here or there.
So I try a few strategies to bring some of that old enjoyable music back to the fore. First, I pick one or two “flashback” albums each month to add to my monthly playlist. Second, I cherry-pick songs for the occasional playlist for my car, or for Avery’s iPod, or for random listening or something. But this doesn’t seem like enough.
So I’m brainstorming a few ideas here.
Search Phrase Playlists. I already documented this one. Rolfe came up with way more ideas than I did.
Edited Search Phrase Playlists – Similar to the above, but driven by a bit more picking and tweaking. Here’s one I did using the words Angel and Devil:
And another to the phrase “Say That Again”
Event Association Lists – start with a song as the seed for the list. Use word-association techniques to connect it from song to song. Build a playlist from it. For example, a playlist springing from my friend Nate, bouncing around songs from high school:
- “Rusty Cage” was my first Soundgarden song, which Nate put on a mix tape for me in sixth or seventh grade. I listened the heck out of that tape on my safety-yellow Sony sports walkman while I trudged through the snow delivering the free advertising newspaper in my neighborhood.
- “Sailin” (The Band Dick Tidrow), a goofy ska cover of the Christopher Cross song. Nate always made sure to bring Mr Dirt Rides Again to parties when he brought CDs (as I remember it, he carried them in a small wooden crate), just so I could sneak over to the stereo and make everyone mad by playing that song. Runner up from that CD: “Telephone Sal.”
- “Rotten Apple” (Alice in Chains, from Jar of Flies). An alt-rock fan, I really liked the grungy metal of AiC’s first two albums, Facelift and Dirt. So when Jar of Flies came out, Nate and I drove through slushy March rush hour to the nearest Best Buy to buy the album. Then we complained all the way home about how awful the album was. In time, I came to like this album the best.
- “Been Caught Stealin’” (Jane’s Addiction). Shortly thereafter, I bought another AiC EP and brought it to Brandon’s house to show off. Just before I got to play it, we discovered that the beginning of “Been Caught Stealin” made his dogs bark loudly. We played that song several times that day. Poor dog.
- “Superhero” (Ani DiFranco). Brandon had an eclectic taste in music, and although he isn’t the first person to introduce me to Ani, he is the person I most strongly associate with her work. I also associate this album (Dilate) with my time as a deejay at the college radio station, where, like Ted (Dr.X) in How I Met Your Mother, no one listened to my show.
- “China” (Greg Brown) At the radio station, I discovered a variety of music types. I came to like ska and some of the less hardcore punk music, and I came to discover a whole bunch of folk musicians. Greg Brown’s “China” was a regular song on my show for months.
- and so on…
Last Played – If you have had a consistent iTunes library for a long time, you could use the “last played” or “plays” column to bring forth tracks from the depths that you haven’t played yet. Alas, since I put in a new hard drive on my computer in mid 2010, my “last played” stats are relatively new, with some 11,000 tracks having no ‘last played’ date at all.
Song Name – Alphabetize all your songs by song name and select a random group of ten. (This could also lead you to interesting “first word” search lists. Here are two such results for me:
Shuffle: Finally, you can take your life in your own hands with full on Shuffle. I have a dynamic playlist called “Only Music” which excludes audiobooks.
*Unlike the much-ballyhooed Emily (discussed most adroitly on Jonathan Coulton’s blog), my 80GB of mp3s represents a significant investment, of which at least 90% were purchased on CD or more recently from download sites like emusic, Amazon, and occasionally iTunes, and a significant number of the remaining tracks are audiobooks I’ve borrowed from the library and will delete once I’ve “read” them. I never got into the napster/limewire thing.