Mixing Things Up
The way I manage my iTunes library is this: I put songs into rough genres - Books & Spoken for spoken-word stuff; Children's Music for the kids' stuff; Choral for classical choral music; Christmas ; Classical for instrumental classical music; Country/bluegrass for anything exceedingly country-ish; Film Score ; Jazz for instrumental jazz; Musicals/Broadway for musical theater music (including stuff like the Beauty & the Beast soundtrack that is really musical theater); Opera; Pop for very poppy stuff, usually stuff the wife likes; Rock for most all rock/pop music; and Vocals for jazz vocals, standards, and stuff like that. For the Rock genre, I rate all songs, all 3,700 of them, and use 5-Star and 4&5-Star playlists to filter out the stuff I really like. I also have a "little-heard" playlist set up to grab all of the 4 and 5 star songs by artists who aren't the artists I listen to all the time (Dylan, U2, Elvis Costello, etc.) One-star is crap, two-star I don't like, three-star I enjoy, four-star I love, five-star I adore. Most songs end up in the three-star bucket.
So - I got the first of Lefty's Mixed Bag CD Project mix CDs (Lefty's own mix) the other day and have been listening. And the way I listen to albums now is to listen enough times to be able to rate the songs. This way, when I listen to my pre-set playlists, the songs I like will bubble up. And since these mixes usually feature lots of artists I've never heard of, it's a great way to get songs into that little-heard playlist, and a great way to listen to them and not forget about them.
Here's how I rated Lefty's mix:
1. "Soviet Connection" - Michael Hunter - 3 Stars
This is a film score piece really, from Grand Theft Auto IV (note to self - you need to re-label it in iTunes). Nice enough, but for someone who's never played the game, just OK.
2. "Fake Empire" - The National - 4 Stars
Love this one. Might move it up to 5 stars. Definitely need to check these guys out, especially since the singer is a bass, and as I've noted before, you don't see that much. Love the stately piano and the martial drums.
3. "Human" - The Pretenders - 3 Stars
I like the Pretenders fine, but I think this is their first entry into my iPod. A good, solid rock song, and Hynde can sing.
4. "Aretha Sing One for Me" - Cat Power - 3 Stars
This might move to a 4 Star. I like the easy groove, and the simple swing it has.
5. "Sloop John B" - Me First and the Gimmee Gimmees - 3 Stars
Never been a big fan of punk music. A fun cover though.
6. "Three Minute Marriage" - The Gentlemen - 3 Stars
Punk pop? Pleasant and fun, but not grabbing me hard.
7. "Cruel to be Kind" - Nick Lowe - 3 Stars
I had never heard the original (assuming this is the original). Good, but missing a little edge, or energy, or something.
8. "Hollow Man" - R.E.M. - 3 Stars
Reminds me that I need to get more R.E.M. Guessing this is off the one? Like the slow opening and jump into rock territory.
9. "Ride on Baby" - The Rolling Stones - 3 Stars
I just don't get the Rolling Stones, I guess. It's good, but this is the first Rolling Stone song to get into my iPod. And I'm OK with that.
10. "Better than Wine" - Derek Webb - 3 Stars
Another that might move to 4. A cool little acoustic thing.
11. "My Hero" - Foo Fighters - 3 Stars
I had no idea this was the Foo Fighters. I'm dumb.
12. "Sentimental Heart" - She and Him - 4 Stars
Great vocals, very personality-filled while still being pretty. Love the kind of resigned-hopeful contradictory vibe going on here.
13. "Is There a Ghost? - Band of Horses - 3 Stars
Enjoyable but not much more.
14. "60 Revolutions" - Gogol Bordello - 3 Stars
Mexican-sounding rave up. Fun.
15. "What Goes On" - The Beatles - 3 Star
Had never heard this. Beatles doing cowboy music.
16. "Be Easy" - Sharon Jones and the . . . . - 4 Star
Love this. It's that horn and bass riff that does it. So slick and smooth. I never think to get soul music like this when I'm looking for new music, but it's great.
17. "Speed of Life" - David Bowie - 3 Star
18. "Run" - Gnarls Barkley - 4 Star
My first Gnarls Barkley track. Awesome. Love the retro feel and the energy and speed. Might have to track down their first album.
19. "Room without a Window" - Operation Ivy - 2 Star
Is this ska? Not my taste.
20. "The Ocean" - Led Zeppelin - 3 Star
Believe it or not, my iPod's first Zeppelin. Another band I like but have no need to own. Maybe I've been desensitized by too much classic rock.
21. "Morning Is My Dearest" - The Merritt - 3 Star
Country-sounding song, reminds me of Lucinda Williams. Nice.
22. "All the Old Showstoppers" - The New Pornographers - 3 Star
Never heard these guys. I like it. Has a sense of theatricality I could see getting into.
23. "Sayonara Rolling Star" - Unknown Artist - 3 Star
Japanese song. I can't quite get into pop music in other languages.
Overall, I like this mix quite a bit, especially the range of styles - it'll have me seeking out a few new things, that's for sure.