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post #387
bio: stu

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The Private Memoirs and Playlists of a Justified Listener
With the new iPhone, I finally once again have enough space to carry most of my music with me again, a state of affairs I haven't been in since my old iPod died. So now I can use my phone to listen to everything in my Music To Judge playlists again, rather than just everything I've rated high enough to carry with me.

I used to mock the people who's music tastes ossified the year that they graduated from high school and didn't bother to seek out anything new; my big musical revelations all came when I was in my early 20s rather than college, which I think makes me an outlier. But my ossification just came later. Now that I'm in my 30s, it's really hard for me to start to like anything new; even new albums from bands I love take a long time to break in.

But I keep trying, because discovering a new favorite song is one of the greatest feelings in the world. You've just made a friend of a song that you'll have for the rest of your life.

My new obsession to do this is a playlist I've created with the 25 songs I've listened to the most but haven't rated. I play them, and rate them. I listen to this on my commute in to work, rating them as I go, and then when I sync my phone at the end of the day, the songs are replaced by the next down the line.

This ensures that I'm spending my commute--when I'm locked in with basically nothing to do but avoid thinking about my problems and listen to music--listening to songs I've at least heard before a couple of times and had an opportunity to pre-form judgments on.

Practically, it does mean that almost all the songs I'm listening to at this time are getting either two stars or three stars. The really good stuff gets rated before it hits this playlist, and the really terrible stuff gets one-starred immediately. And it means that I'm not listening to fully new music, which at least has the possibility of astonishing me (even if practically that never happens anymore).

That's okay. I have other playlists set up to expose me to new music: playlists set up for me to listen to Pitchfork's most acclaimed albums and songs, playlists set up to distinguish between music that will truly be new to me vs. music that is only technically new to my iTunes because I just downloaded new versions of it.

Basically, I'm a database guy--professionally and personally, through and through. It took me a long time to come to terms with it, but there's no way around it. This is what I do. Might as well eke some benefit out of it.

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