Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Playlists…Listening to my collection

8-12-09 Playlists…Listening to my collection

I have been making Playlists since the 70’s. I think the earliest surviving Playlist is from the fall of 1976 – a few months after I started working in a hippie record store. And for each and every month of the 1980’s – I have a monthly 90 minute playlist – two sides of a C-90.

In the modern age, I have both a Sony MiniDisc recorder and a CD burner. The playlists are presently generated as often as I can – and are usually made from vinyl onto a 74 or 80 minute Sony MiniDisc. I can make MD’s of CD’s, but now that I no longer have an MD player in my car, I make CD-R’s of CD’s to play in my car.

My non-linear brain came up with numbering the playlists, a while back. What was I thinking? I started generating ‘out-of-sequence’ playlists – just seemingly randomly picking numbers, at first! I sorted all of ‘em – and began filling in the blanks. Very soon, I will have filled up all of the ‘empty’ numbers – and have 100 numbered playlists.

That will be the basis for my first major writing project in a while. “100 Playlists – How I Listen To My Record Collection”. Those 100 playlists are mostly vinyl, but a few “CD to MD” ones are in there – sometimes just to help me get through a new batch of CD’s that had arrived in my collection. I can add other info to make the idea of this project more ‘read-able’ (brief biographies, details about which version of the vinyl it is etc.)

I do listen to a lot more music than what is on my playlists. I probably hear 6 – 10 whole CD’s a week in my car alone. But the playlists are “how I listen to everything”. “Hey, you’ve got thousands of records – do you ever play ‘em all?” – I used to get asked this a lot. Yes, I do. I can get through about 2,000 songs a year, using this “playlist method”.

I have already seen ‘playlist books’ on the market – from the likes of the Pitchfork website (or thereabouts). “20 Krautrock Songs To Download” and such-like. My playlist list will not suggest that you download anything – but that you might keep your eyes open, when sifting the ‘bargain bins’ of your town.

Still, I suppose there is the possibility that my 2,000+ song playlist will seem somewhat limited. Well, it is – that less than sampling 1% of my music collection. I know there are artists that I have ignored – and others that I “over-do”. In recent years, I have really investigated 10cc (& family), Mike Oldfield and Yello. But I don’t think that there is an inordinate amount of their music represented in my playlists. Yep, I still play a lot of stray Stranglers cuts, as they have so many albums & singles!

So, if you would be interested to see what 100 of my music playlists look like – drop me a line. I don’t plan on printing more books than there is interest for.


Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I do not understand the concept of playlists, either with or without an iTunes/iPod. I listen to albums. When I have enough singles or rarities from an artist that are not on an album, I used to make a cassette. Now I make a BSOG. It still gets turned into an album's worth of music.

Otherwise, I don't listen to my records. I buy them... and wait. Often, I listen to them for the first time when digitizing them to make CDs. Virtually any vinyl record I have bought since 1990 has been bought for this reason, even though I did not have CD burning capability until 1997. I was looking ahead ever since Radio Shack announced their THOR disc far in advance of it's eventual non-rollout. Back in the late 80s RS gave a big press release for Tandy Home Optical Recording which would appear in a few years. Only it didn't. Earlier, I did listen to purchases almost as soon as I got them, for certain.

Once I moved the turntable into the computer room, that pretty much put the kibosh on playing records to hear them. Just like moving the SLHF-2100 into the computer room meant that Beta videos no longer got played to watch. Of course, 95% of my beta video collection is in storage! There is no room in my house for such stuff!

When I get new CDs they go in the car tote and get played during my 45 min/26 mile one-way commute to work. When there is nothing new to listen to, I tend to listen to artists' entire output, usually in forward chronological order. If the artist is David Bowie, this can take the better part of a month! Though I am a Bill Nelson fan, I had to bail when he started putting out over 8 albums a year.

Brian Ware said...

I'm a CD only listener as well, and it's part of my daily work routine to pick out the driving music for the day. Almost all my listening is in my truck. However, over the years I've made tons of CD-R mixes for friends and family. Whether it's specific party mixes, or if I'm creating a block of music with a specific theme or reflecting a certain era, I find myself combing through my collection constantly. Considering the scale of what you have Ron, your playlists are a logical way to "rotate your stock".