Here’s something cool. Pop into iTunes. Highlight your main music library, and organize it in a grid (the three buttons to the immediate left of the search field in the top right of the itunes box). Make sure you’re viewing all albums or all artists. Now click View along the menu bar at the top, go down to “Sort Albums”, and make sure that “By Year” and “Ascending” are checked. Now back under the View tab, go to “Grid View” and make sure that “Group Albums” is checked. Now you’re looking at your iTunes library as chronologically as is possible.
I’m wondering how many people will think this is cool. Or how many people read my blog anyway. Regardless, I find this to be a cool way to look at the music you listen to. It’s also started me thinking about music in terms of years. What year was most musically important to American culture? What year is most important to me in terms of my favorite albums ever released? It’s an impossible question obviously, but still fun to think about. Based on the music I have, 1967 was a super important year. Aretha Franklin’s debut album, along with the first two Jimi Hendrix Experience albums and The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper. I hope Apple eventually lets you incorporate months into the “year/date” classification of your music. I would have a hey-day.
Here’s a breakdown of my library. My earliest dated music is from 1924, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. It’s the only classical piece I have in my iTunes. After that I’ve got Robert Johnson’s Complete Recordings released in 1936, and then Miles Davis’ classic album Birth of the Cool in 1949. After that, starting in 1954, my library really starts off. Here is the breakdown. Keep in mind this does include EPs and the few singles I have, so these numbers aren’t exact. I have, however, taken into account double albums (e.g. The Beatles’ White Album, etc.).
’50s: 22 albums
’60s: 67 albums
’70s: 80 albums
’80s: 22 albums
’90s: 50 albums
The Naughts: 269 albums
Year with the fewest albums: 1985 & 1988 (1 album)
Year with the most albums: 2006 (55 albums)
From 1954 to 2009, there are only two years for which I only have one album. That means for 53 years of music, I have at least two albums released in each of those years. Crazy. Interesting too that both years I only have 1 album were ’80s years. Man did those ’80s suck musically. They were such a weird transitional period, moving from disco and the birth of “hard” rock in the ’70s to the oh-so-bubbly bubble gum pop era of the ’90s. Don’t know what it is about those ’80s they just don’t appeal to me. With the monumental exception of Stevie Ray Vaughan, one of my biggest guitar player influences.
So sort of a cool thing. You can listen through your library chronologically if you want. Or pick out a favorite song of the year. This will make it a lot easier to do “Best of the Year” lists from now on.