Music of a Lifetime

All Together Now, Music album cover collage

How much music do you have in your life?

There is plenty of room for that to be a metaphysical question, but I am referring to the number of songs in your iTunes or CDs, tapes, or LPs – if you still use them – you have on a shelf.

James Watanabe said, in a conversation about the current state of the music industry: “We’ve been able to download all the music we ever wanted for free and how much of it do we actually listen to?”

As of last count I have 6, 300 songs on my Mac. If you average 5 minutes per song, that works out to 31,500 minutes, or about 525 hours. Played continuously, it would take about 22 days to listen to every song….once. This doesn’t include the last few tape cassettes I have in my car and half of the CDs I have in storage. (Yes, I still have tapes. In particular, a bottleg of the U2 The Unforgettable Fire Tour from Houston recorded by Stiles White or Blake Trabulsi).

With that much music and only a quarter of it ever getting heard I decided it was time to listen. Starting at A.A. Wallace and ending with Zulu 9.30, turning off the Shuffle feature, I am making my way through the 22 days of music a little bit at a time. I’ve been at it for a few weeks and am in the “C’s.” There were songs by Calexico I had never heard and didn’t even know I had. Getting through Bright Eyes was a bit painful and resulted in some trash removal. Considering how much is between Calexico and Curtis Mayfield , I will be in the “C’s” for at least a week or more. And with no skipping ahead or shuffling, I might be listening to Latin hip-hop followed by a series of classical pieces on piano.

Brushing the digital dust off so many good tunes has brought about a new appreciation for what I never knew I already had. It may be sometime this fall or winter that I finally cross the finish line and hear the last of everything. There is plenty of living that will happen between now and then, making for a curious soundtrack to my life. I might have missed it all if I never took the time to listen.