iPod Problems

ipod_shuffle

After 7 years, I’ve finally been faced with a problem I’ve been dreading for some time. I bought my 60 GB iPod Classic in September of 2006, a birthday present to myself. I had been using the first gen iPod Shuffle (remember this thing?) and I had way more music than could fit on there so I splurged. It’s been a chunky little survivor, living through drops and spills and even traveling to several different countries with me. My iPod was one of my most treasured possessions when I studied abroad because it allowed me to learn about myself as I learned about the world. At times, it functioned as a soundtrack to beautiful foreign landscapes. Other times, it was a translator; but a social one rather than a foreign language one. I remember the exact moment in Spain when the hipster students from Oregon accepted me as a cool person (thank you, Meters).

I’ve got two options: buy a new iPod or start to limit what I put on mine. If I bought a new one, I’d go with the newest gen iPod Classic which has over 2.5x the space as my current, so I wouldn’t run out of room for easily 10 years, at the very least. They cost around $250 though, which is a little pricey. So picking and choosing what goes on my iPod looks to be the winning solution.I’m getting sentimental. In a strictly functional sense, my iPod has been perfect; no frills, just space. And this year, my music library has finally grown larger than 60 GB. This has led to some serious soul searching.

But how to even begin? I see two viable options for this harrowing process:

  1. Choose the least listenable
  2. Choose the most listenable

Let me break this down. In terms of starting big and narrowing down, the main pro is that it’s easier to add new music to the collection. With my eMusic subscription, my collection grows by 3-6 albums a month, and you can’t tell whether or not an album will become a must-have-on-iPod after two listens. That comes with time and album absorption. The main problem with starting big and narrowing is that choosing what to cut is nearly impossible. When I first hit the limit earlier this year, my first cut was easy: all Christmas music. I think it was around March, and it didn’t hurt to lose about a gig’s worth of space for holiday-themed songs. But then once I hit the limit again, then it became a question of what do I listen to least? My next cut was (almost) all my live albums. This was another good cut because live albums are usually longer than an average studio record. But again, I’ve long since hit that limit.

Since this is a cyclical process, what do I cut? Do I go with artists with the most albums? Frank Sinatra’s an easy target, that cuts down like 20 albums right there. Eric Clapton is another good one, as is Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Al Green, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ray Charles, etc. But some of these are my favorite artists, who have written some of my favorite songs. And as my Top 1000 is a list I occasionally like to shuffle at work or in the car, I can’t just do an immediate chop of all the artists who have lots of albums. I could cut by genre, but then you get into the impossible genre-categorization game. Are the Beatles pop or rock? How about Stevie Wonder, pop or soul? Or Stevie Ray Vaughan, blues or rock? This kills me. If I wipe out jazz, I’m not only knocking out all the “traditional” jazz artists (Davis, Coltrane, Monk, Hancock, Guaraldi, etc.), I’m cutting out Jamie Cullum, Norah Jones, and Madeleine Peyroux. All of whom have songs in my Top 1000, so I’m already limiting my favorite playlist if I lose all their albums.

I love thinking about this so much. I should go be a library cataloger.

So the alternative, which I think I’m leaning towards, would be to start with nothing and add in what’s most important. I think I’d start with every album represented in my Top 1000 playlist. Maybe even any album that’s got a song with more than 10 or 15 plays makes the cut. Then from there, maybe look at genre, artist, or album I’m currently listening to most. For the last two months, it had been folk/pop/rock from the ’60s/’70s/’80s (Eagles, James Taylor, Wings, Cat Stevens, America, Doobies, Elton, Billy Joel, Harry Nilsson, etc.), before that it was funk/soul/R&B from the ’60s/’70s/’80s (Funkadelic, Curtis Mayfield, Earth, Wind & Fire, Parliment, Ohio Players, Prince, Sly & The Family Stone, etc.), and now I’m moving into a phase of jazz from ’50s/’60s/’70s. After the jazz is on, I’ll probably add the last six to twelve month’s worth of albums most recently added. I like to keep that stuff fresh because if I’m not listening to it, what’s the point of buying it? I’ll probably top off the iPod with randoms from there on out, albums I love that somehow didn’t make one of the other addition rounds. And then if there’s room, Christmas music. December is coming up fast…

Thank you for reading what is, possibly, the most niche post I’ve ever written.

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