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Jacob Marley vs. Bob Marley: Shutting Out the Ghost of Music Past

In the few weeks since I wrote my first plea to trim the fat from your iTunes library, I've continued purging my own collection. On the first pass, I simply deleted the clearly objectionable stuff, things that I couldn't understand what made me want to keep them in the first place. It was rather easy, and like I said, it slimmed my corpulent media collection by a third.

Now though, it's getting down to brass tacks, and I'm making some hard decisions about what to keep. I don't need to do this for disk space, mind you, but as I've been trying to do a better job of organizing all my music and video with smarter lists and ratings, I've come to a simple conclusion: even if I still think it's good, I just have too much.

"A massive CD collection never felt like such a psychic burden as a massive iTunes library."

Other than the cost of acquiring it and the physical space it consumed, a massive CD collection never felt like such a psychic burden as a massive iTunes library. Because what I listened to on CD was limited to what I consciously pulled off the shelf, years of questionable purchases and bands that didn't age well never crashed my DJ party. They simply stayed on the shelf, collecting dust. But now that the booty bass novelty song that used to be so much fun back in college has just as good a chance of popping up on shuffle as "No Woman No Cry," it comes back to haunt me like the Ghost of Music Past, with gold chains clanking around his neck instead of shackles.

I realize I can avoid this problem with more smart playlists and clever tagging (or simply hitting the skip button), but how many people have the time to give that kind of care and feeding to a 10,000-track library? I'm one of the most obsessive music collectors I know, and I don't do it. The answer isn't so much devising a better needle-retrieval system as it is creating a smaller haystack.

This whole purging process has made me realize how much my tastes have changed. My main test when deciding to keep a song/album/artist now is to ask: would I ever intentionally pick this out to play? If the answer is no, I dump it. It's a much different answer than it was 10 years ago, and even if I used to blast the hell out of a certain song, if I can't see myself reaching for it again, it's time to move on.

This time around, I'm at least making a compromise by archiving the files instead of permanently deleting them (tip: tell iTunes to move them to the trash, then copy the files out of your trash bin before you empty it). It's fun to reminisce sometimes, but it shouldn't be that much work to sort out what your former self enjoyed from what you simply want to hear now.

About wood.tang

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Matt Wood is a writer, former IT drone, sometime realtor, and full-time stay-at-home dad. He and his family live in Chicago.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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