Thursday, January 02, 2014

Who I listened to in 2013

2013 music by The original SimonB
2013 music, a photo by The original SimonB on Flickr.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned on here before that I don’t get as much time to listen to music as I would like, but the word cloud above is a good representation of what I have managed to get through in the last twelve months. (You can click it to go through to Flickr and then get to the full size version so you can actually read the smaller words). I started back in January to list every time any artist got played so while it doesn’t tell us whether I listened to someone more in summer or winter months, we do get an indication of how many times people cropped up. This is made up of in-car, in-house and in-walkphone listening with no differentiation between when and where (I may have been dedicated/sad enough to make a note of every aural experience, but not enough to further categorize them). And the cloud is a much nicer way of looking at them than just a list of artist names with. NB “Various artist” compilations or whoever popped up by sticking iTunes on shuffle aren’t here – only artists I have chosen to listen to a whole bunch of songs from.

As such, it needs to be pointed out that this is not a result of random choice or fully by the selection of who I want to hear on a given day. I realised a couple of years ago that I tended to stick to the same old stuff and was ignoring a goodly percentage of my music collection. To combat that I introduced a strict three-disc rotation system for in-car listening while still allowing myself free-reign over any other music. So the rotation is 1: Artist I have several albums by but haven’t necessarily listened to for a while (in chronological order for each artist as they come up), 2: Artists I only have one CD by (in alphabetical order) and 3: New discs. Two years in and I am still only up to K for number two, but I have rediscovered some absolute gems. Discs for number three seem to accumulate without me realising it (Santa and the sales have just added a slew more to that pile). So as an example starting today on the drive to work we had 1: Hayseed Dixie (actually started them last week so they got one entry on last year’s list. I have five official albums and two bootlegs – all will get played in order so if I do a similar word cloud next year they will end up quite “large”). This will be followed by 2: King’s X (always a surprise to me that I only have one of theirs on CD and really must get more); 3: Eat Static (a Christmas present replacing a 20year old cassette with the CD version at last) then 1: Hayseed Dixie again, 2: King Swamp and 3: Daevid Allen (another Christmas present) etc. On the rare occasions that I run out of new discs to bung in the rotation I generally double-up on the single cd artists. When I finally reach Z on the artists I only have one disc by I intend to go through again for those with just two on the shelf.

On my phone I listen mainly to Audio Books and podcasts (This American Life, Selected Shorts, Short Cuts, The Infinite Monkey Cage, Jon Ronson On…) but intersperse those with music too. That used to be just random tracks but as I am slowly getting all my CDs ripped I now generally fill up the memory card with four or five books, and then the same numbers of podcasts and albums. Although the album tracks get randomly shuffled between the books and pods they still count as full listens so the artists get added to the list. But as I am only about halfway through the ripping process this adds another level of bias into what I listen to. And there has been no structure at all to the ripping – just what I’ve fancied hearing when out and about or in the study so may as well rip the disc while I have it upstairs…

And then there is just general listening to whatever I fancy from whatever source when I’m home alone and can crank the volume up.

Why do I make my life so complicated?

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