About two and a half years ago I bought a new MacBook Pro. Unlike my previous laptop, it didn’t come with any music preloaded, so this was a chance for me to start from scratch with an empty iTunes library.
At first, I loaded only albums from 2012 to force myself to listen to recent music. Then I added stuff from 2011, and then 2013 when the time came. Then I wanted to have staples like the Beatles and the Stones, so I relaxed the rules, and from there things started to get out of hand. Around this time I discovered that it’s pretty easy nowadays to take your laptop to the library and burn to your heart’s content, without bothering to check stuff out and return it. My friend Robert gave me a memory stick full of Sly and the Family Stone and Madlib mixes. I got 8 CDs’ worth of both Johnny Cash and James Brown. You get the picture.
Fast-forward to today, and I just reached the 10,000-song mark. This seems like a good time to step back and reflect for a minute. Of course, 10,000 songs represents only the merest fraction of my total collection, but that’s still a lot of music; to be precise, 26 days, 5 hours, 4 minutes, and 56 seconds’ worth. So I could still theoretically listen to all of it during the month of February, as long as I didn’t sleep. If I just made a job of it and listened to 8 hours a day, it would take me 79 days to get all the way through, assuming I didn’t add anything more in the meantime. Which is unlikely.
A few bits of data:
The most listened-to song is “M’Bife” by the Malian duo Amadou and Mariam, with 38 plays. The least listened to song is, um, about 3,000 tied with 0 plays each. I told you it was out of hand.
The artist with the most songs is Lou Reed with 238, and if we add the Velvet Underground, that number jumps all the way up to 350. This is partly because when Lou died I burned everything I could, vaguely planning some big writing project which may or may not come to pass. David Bowie is next at 220, and if you lumped together everything related to Lee Perry (releases under his name, the Upsetters, and miscellaneous other productions), he would be up there as well. The rest of the top 20:
Johnny Cash: 192 songs
T. Rex: 153
James Brown: 151
Sam Cooke: 141
Marvin Gaye: 84
Townes Van Zandt: 83
Howlin’ Wolf: 81
Rolling Stones: 81
The Beatles: 79
Sly & the Family Stone: 71
The Black Keys: 71
Throwing Muses: 65
Dr. John: 55
Miriam Makeba: 55
Bobby Womack: 55
13th Floor Elevators: 51
This does not 100% accurately reflect my musical taste, because it is weighted toward recent obsessions and acquisitions (the Townes Van Zandt stuff is mostly as-yet-unheard, for example). But it doesn’t not represent my taste, either. It is sort of a musical selfie portraying this particular moment in time; blurry, but if you squint a little it’s a pretty good likeness.
Excluding plug-ins that provide additional memory, there must be some finite limit to the number of musical recordings that your laptop can hold–do you have any approximate idea of what that number would be? And that’s not counting all the other gigabits of data you also have stored apart from music. It’s all rather amazing to an old fogey like me!
The laptop has a huge hard drive and I don’t store a lot of video or other large files, so I could go into the hundreds of thousands. But by then it will be obsolete anyway.
How many by the Carpenters?
Because, you know, they’re the best.
I also sense a paucity of Merle Haggard.
0 by the Carpenters. I had some Merle on my old machine. Nothing against Merle.