One of my main obsessive compulsive behavioural things-to-do, is to neatly make playlists in iTunes called ‘My…’ followed by the year, which is a chronological list of my favourite songs throughout the year.
Back in the days of cassette tapes, I used to make up compilations (as everyone did) of my favourite current songs. That then switched briefly to CD – and even more briefly for me – to an era when I used MiniDisc, the best part about that being is that they were re-usable (unlike CD-R’s) meaning you could ‘delete’ a song that you liked hearing lots a month ago but not anymore and add in your new favourite choon.
So with the advent of iTunes and playlists (and smart playlists – still the most underused and underated feauture if iTunes I reckon) you can make all these sorts of things and keep them permamently. I even have one called ‘MD’ which replicated that MiniDisc era – and is simply just the last 14 songs that I have added and have 3 stars or above as their rating.
That star rating is most important to me amongst all the metadata I add onto my tracks (the year, the genre, the artwork, star-rating – all filled in for EVERY song in my iTunes) because you can look back and see what your favourite songs were for a particular year or any time period.
I can look back over the last four years, and be reminded of the happy times and sad times all because of the music I was listening to at the time and how I’ve rated them. And by counting the number of songs in each of my yearly playlists (I normally average about 60 favourite songs for the year, and I’ve gone back and retrospectively created playlists since 1986 – the year I started to buy music), I can see that in 2006 I had 64 songs, 2008 was 62, and even now in 2009 I’m up to 59 tracks. But the year of 2007? I have a mere 38 tracks in my favourites playlist.
Now does that mean that 2007 was a particularly poor year for music, or was it because that I was so unhappy generally that I was failing to get excited by the music at the time and unable to generate good memories by association. When I look back at my ‘My 2007′ playlist, so few of the songs really stand out as favourites for me.
So I’m using the 5-star rating system to see if it makes things clearer. I’ve added up the number of stars in total for each year and divided it by the number of tracks in that year to give us an average. And it goes as so:
2006 average rating = 3.09 [5 stars: 5 songs, 4 stars: 13 songs, 3 stars: 28 songs, 2 stars: 18 songs, 1 star: 0 songs]
2007 average rating = 2.60 [5 stars: 2 songs, 4 stars: 8 songs, 3 stars: 12 songs, 2 stars: 15 songs, 1 star: 1 song]
2008 average rating = 3.17 [5 stars: 4 songs, 4 stars: 14 songs, 3 stars: 33 songs, 2 stars: 11 songs, 1 star: 0 songs]
2009 average rating = 3.31 [5 stars: 4 songs, 4 stars: 18 songs, 3 stars: 28 songs, 2 stars: 8 songs, 1 star: 0 songs]
So you could take from this, then when I turned up in America in 2006, I was happy (3.09 – When I thought that everything was going to be great), which then took a turn for the worse during 2007 (2.60 – realised that it wasn’t and marriage not going to last), which got better in 2008 (3.17 – became single again started to piece life back together) to 2009 (3.31 – the happiest I’ve ever been in the USA as I’ve had a brilliant year).
Now I don’t think that 2007 was a bad year for music at all. I just think it means because I was having a shit time in my life, that my unhappy mood was reflected in how receptive I was to hearing new songs and enjoying them at the time … and perhaps even more importantly when I look back upon those songs of 2007, the mood is still there and I find myself feeling glum, rather than happy. The power of music, eh?