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April 05, 2006

Cutting out the deadwood in my music collection

I listen to a lot of albums, on CD, and on my computer and on MP3 players. I've always known that some of them have tracks that are less than perfect. I always persevere, persistently listening to not only every track, but also to them in the correct order (the closing bars in any song give me a Pavlovian response to the opening bars of the next one).

When I'm tempted to skip a track, I think back to the album Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. I borrowed this from my friend Richard Moore when I was at school. I listened to it and really liked it, but told him the next day that the track 'Songbird' was a bit poor and let the whole thing down. He assured me that I was wrong, that I should keep listening, and that I'd change my mind. Of course - he was completely right. 'Songbird' is a fantastic song. It's not flashy like the Lindsey Buckingham tracks, not smouldering sexy like the Stevie Nicks ones, it's a pure love song and a perfect ending to side one (yes, it was vinyl in those days). I could have given up, and determined never to make that mistake in the future.

As I'm getting older though, the amount of music I have seems to be growing exponentially and almost overwhelming me. I have decided that it is time to cut out the deadwood in my collection. I don't want to make any mistakes, so extensive listening is required before the incisions start. But we all have albums that we play which start well, meander a bit, and your ears lose interest, then maybe a really good track makes you sit up and notice again. I think it's time to stop wasting all that time listening to junk.

I've already started to make some value judgements on the CDs in my collection. I'm listening critically and asking myself the question "Would I be disappointed if I never heard this track ever again?" It's surprisingly easy, even on old favourite CDs, to say "No!". Those filler tracks are heading towards the bit-bucket of history.

It would have been fairly difficult a few years ago to actually put into practice any cull like this. It's not practical to lift the needle on vinyl, and on analog cassette the APSS (Automatic Programme Search System) functions similarly meant you had to get up and go over to the deck to press the buttons (and even then they were likely to skip past a good song, or stop at a quiet bit in the bad one).

Even with CDs it's a bit of a pain to extract tracks. I suppose I could burn a new copy of the CD with the bad songs removed and put it in the jewel case, and then file the original away somewhere. But that's a lot of effort and will realistically never happen.

No, the best thing to do is to make sure all my playlists in whatever software player I have reflect my tastes. In fact, I can keep the old playlist with all the tracks, and have a new one with just the tunes I like. I do switch around a lot between applications like Winamp, iTunes and Music Match, but I think a lot of them support the .M3U format so that's the one I'm going to try.

I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Of course, I've pretty much written off several albums already (100th Window, The Dreaming, Beaucoup Fish, Hometime, Vapor Trails.

Note 2: books and films are also on my hitlist...

Posted by se71 at April 5, 2006 02:10 PM


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