ipod tracklist executive summary

What does your iPod song collection say about you?

While not all of my favorite music is on my iPod, with three and a half days worth of music on there, what is present does tell a story. Or many stories. Was the artist with the most songs or albums present also my favorite? What would my track list say about me if a casual acquaintance glanced at it?

When I listen to music most often and what I listen to forms a solid outline of my own biography, in a way – at least to me. Every hour behind a lawnmower since I owned headphones had a soundtrack, and every commute since I got my license. My playlist is like an audio scrapbook. Looking through my collection dates back to the first cassette tape I purchased with money from my first job more than twenty years ago (yikes! that long?). Iron Maiden: Lost Somewhere in Time. I recall being amused that the answer to a history class quiz question on “Alexander the Great” was accurately represented in an Iron Maiden song of the same name. How did Alexander solve the Gordian Knot to become the master of Asia? Yeah, he cut it.

When I stop and think about it, every period of my life had certain albums I might associate with it. Whether it was countless hours in front of my C64 playing a dungeon crawl game to “Alice in Chains”, classic Dungeons and Dragons with friends to “Metallica” and “Anthrax”, or the timelessly relevant tracks in “NIN: Pretty Hate Machine”, most of my music reminds me of something, someplace, or in a few cases; people.

Fast forward through the decades and while my music tastes broadened to include everything from classical movie soundtracks and Enya to System of A Down and Sepultura, the two artists I had more content from than any other were Metallica and Nine Inch Nails. The former, in sheer content. With everything present except their live tour boxed set, they beat out NIN by just a few songs, the latter whose track total included the forty-someodd short wordless instrumental outtakes on the double album “Ghosts I-IV”.

Metallica coming out on top wasn’t really surprising, although I wasn’t sure before I counted. Looking at the bands represented, few have been producing consistently good music for as long. I was first turned on to the band a few years after their debut in 83, but haven’t missed buying an album at release since. And yes, I actually buy my music despite the ease of downloading it free – something I am proud of, and not just because Metallica lead singer Hetfield took an unpopular stand against “Napster” and similar media sharing services.

Ever had your iTunes Genius playlist come back with something really, really weird? Could be my fault, but I doubt that I am the only one who thinks Enya’s “Celts” transitions well to “A Downward Spiral”.

Or maybe I am.

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