In Which I Listen to Every Song on My Phone

I wasn’t exactly an early adopter of smart phones. Jennifer and I purchased our first cell phones in 2006, after nearly all of our friends and family members had their own. And though she “upgraded” to a smart phone several years ago, I held off until last year.

This spring, I finally availed myself of one of the benefits of a smart phone: having all my music in a portable format. Well, not all my music. Not everything fits. So, at first, I just dropped in a bunch of my favorite songs. Only a few hundred songs.

But then, as I listened to scattered songs from album fragments, I decided I wanted to have complete albums. There are some great songs out there yet, I realized, I had never listened to the album they are from. Maybe the rest of the album is also great. Maybe not.

So I deleted everything from my iPhone, and then began by dropping in the complete albums that I already knew and loved (about 20 albums). There were several cases where I had four, five, or even six tracks from an album on my phone, and this compelled me to ipod-person-green-dancedrop in the other tracks. This brought my total to over 50 albums. Then there were some albums I didn’t own in their entirety, but I wanted to. So I got those. (How I got those is another story entirely.) This brought my total to over 70 albums. Then I went back and filled in the space I had left with truly one-off songs that didn’t belong to any album, or, at least, not any album I wanted. Some of these were live tracks. Others were from albums I had listened to in the past and didn’t think I ‘d really want to hear again.

Then, of course, since I’m obsessive, I had to make sure all the tracks were perfect. I mean perfect. I made sure I had the correct album cover artwork for every song, the year each song was originally released, and the correct track number for each song. Of course, I also ensured every song title, album title, and artist name was correct and consistent. A lot of the songs I own were listed as being from “So-and-so’s Greatest Hits,” which isn’t exactly true since the song usually appeared on a studio album previously, so I corrected those to indicate the original album they were from. All bands that begin with “The” have “The” at the beginning, while all individuals are last name then first name. I even had to figure out how to get songs, albums, and artists with numerical names to appear first, instead of last, like iTunes and iPhones stupidly do (hint: you have to cheat).

So now I have 1,186 songs on my phone, which would take me three days, 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 12 seconds to listen to. There are 88 music acts in my phone, but several only have one or two songs. Music acts with complete albums on my phone are as follows (the number indicates how many complete albums I have from each artist):

311 (1)
The Beatles (5 – although this includes Sgt. Pepper’s, and I left off the song “Within You Without You,” which I can barely tolerate)
Johnny Cash (1)
Creedence Clearwater Revival (2 – well, this includes Cosmo’s Factory, and I left off the 15-minute song “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” which, I’m sorry, is just too long)
Green Day (1)
Green Tea (1)
George Harrison (1)
Mason Jennings (11)
Billy Joel (6)
Jack Johnson (2)
The Lavone (1)
John Lennon (5 – well, this includes both Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey, two albums that are half Lennon and half Yoko Ono songs. I only included Lennon’s)
Pink Floyd (2)
Simon & Garfunkel (5)
Paul Simon (10)
Bruce Springsteen (1)
Rhett Sutter (2)
Ryan Sutter (2 – well, this includes an EP, which is a very short album, and it excludes the 10-minute outro from Songs of Bo Redoubt, which just has too much empty space to justify the space it uses on my phone)
The Traveling Wilburys (2)
Trumpet Marine (1)
U2 (10)
Brian Wilson (1)

My phone also has every song from The Beatles’ 1967-1970, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Chronicle (again, with one exception), Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s Déjà Vu, Genesis’ Turn It On Again, Buddy Holly’s 20 Golden Greats, Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits, Volume I and II (except for the atrocious “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” and “While the Night is Still Young”), The John Lennon Collection, Bob Marley’s Legend, Queen’s Greatest Hits, Volume I, and The Paul Simon Anthology, but all of those are compilation albums, so I’m not counting them.

My phone also has 18 songs from  Pearl Jam, 17 from Peter Gabriel, 8 from Roy Orbison, and 6 each from Counting Crows and XTC, but, alas, no complete albums – not even greatest hits albums.

There are more songs from Paul Simon on my phone than from anyone else, at least if you count his stuff with Garfunkel, too, for a total of 171 songs (114 solo, 57 with Garfunkel). John Lennon is a close second with 108 songs from the Beatles and 54 as a soloist, for a total of 162 songs. If I don’t count work from multiple iterations, then U2 is first with 131 songs, and Mason Jennings takes the cake in the soloist department with 120 songs.

So now that everything on my phone is in order, I’ve decided to listen to it all once through. The most logical way is alphabetically by song title, as that spices it up far more than chronologically, or by album or artist title, even though it does make for some odd cuts sometimes.

My experience kicked off this past weekend, with the very sluggish “4th of July,” by U2, which only makes it onto my phone by virtue of me wanting to having the entire Unforgettable Fire album. But then I was pleasantly surprised to hear The Traveling Wilbury’s “7 Deadly Sins,” which I don’t think I’d heard since I was a teenager. Glad I rediscovered that song.

As of this writing, I’m on the letter A. My progress is slowed because I don’t have an easy way to listen in my car. But I’ll update this when I close out with U2, who, coincidentally, are also the last music act in my list, with “Zooropa.”

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