If the sum total of you know about me comes what you’ve seen in the first four blog posts over here, you’ll surely recognize that I’m a pretty big music fan. Dating back to my earliest memories (and even before), music has been a constant presence in my life. Whether I was listening to my folks’ records as a kid, making my first mixtapes in the third or fourth grade, rocking out while I delivered pizzas during breaks from college or curating lists of a year’s best albums, I’ve always been listening to something to something enjoyable.
Naturally, I’ll want to share all that enthusiasm here on the blog, but I’ve never really been sure how I could best go about doing so. While I have opinions, I’m not a particularly skilled or effective critic, so I don’t feel like reviews are the way to go. Mixes are an interesting idea, but I’m not sure I can produce those on a sufficiently regular basis with any semblance of variety. Other ideas have come and went too, including one I used (but didn’t really like) on “the old site.”
A month or two ago, I was looking at my iTunes library, thinking about song lengths. At first it was just kinda quick and dirty picking out the best song that was five and a half minutes… then five thirty-one… five thirty-two… and so on. The more I looked at the sorted list, I realized that I might be able to piece together a pretty interesting list of songs with different times… maybe even one long enough to include a song for every day of the year.
So I laid out a few simple rules and started to pick a great tune at each time. The restrictions were pretty simple and standard: I could only use each artist one time. Because the critical element to these tracks was time, I tried to avoid live recordings as much as possible, since they typically include some arbitrary amount of applause at the start/end of the track. Furthermore, tracks with extended bits of silence followed by “hidden tracks” at the end of the song were also excluded because they didn’t fit the spirit of the effort. For somewhat more arbitrary reasons, I frowned upon remixes too.
I chose to start with songs 1:50 seconds long. Any shorter and I would have too few choices at several times, especially since those times also get too far outside the realm of full songs and into the land of intros, interludes and outros. The process of putting the list together was like a big music puzzle with a lot of interesting choices. Maybe “Enter Sandman” is my favorite Metallica song… maybe it’s the best song that’s 5:32… but does that make for a worse choice when I can’t use “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” at 6:27? When do you use your big hitters? When do you save for later? When do the limitations of your library force your hand (hint: mostly later, sometimes earlier)? Just assembling the list was pretty fun.
What’s more, as I looked over what I had picked, I noticed that the list as a whole told a pretty fair story of my musical history. Music that influenced me, bands phases that I went through, genres and styles that I was into, songs that take me back, fun new stuff that I’m listening to right now. It’s not true for everything, but on the whole, the mix paints a picture. I think it’s that missing vehicle for sharing some great music with my audience. So every day for the rest of 2012, I’ll be posting a song from a different artist, each song one second longer than the last*.
Our journey starts with a song that’s just 1:50 and will end with one that’s 7:55. In between, we’ll visit a song at each time in between, so feel free to join in the fun! We’re pretty certain to run by several of your favorites along the way and you can play along on your own blog, on Twitter, in the comments or wherever. Maybe if you’re smart, you can guess what I have coming… maybe you can put the puzzle together better than I can…
*Note that the song lengths I’m using are those displayed by iTunes on my Mac. I’ve already found that those times differ from times listed on my iPod because iTunes will round to the nearest second (ie: 4:30.505 becomes 4:31) while the iPod simply truncates the times (4:30.505 is 4:30).