A to Z – How to Get There

SOUNDS simple, doesn’t it? Plug the headphones into my iPod, turn it on and listen to all the songs in alphabetical order. All 11,235 of them… and rising.

As far as challenges go, it is not the toughest. It’s hardly walking to the South Pole, scaling Everest or even a marathon.

This is just me and two constant companions – my ipod and laptop – heading off on a journey which, at an average of an hour a day, will take just over two years, but is likely to last considerably longer.

There must be rules and after much debate (well, staring at a screen and working out how it is going to work), they are:

  • My iPod decides the order – It’s in-built alphabetising system is the one which will determine the running order. Strangely, it has changed with Vampire Weekend’s A-Punk relegated from the opening track to somewhere in the pack of A songs. Some of the alphabetising is a bit weird, especially with definite and indefinite articles.
  • No skipping – To count, the song must register as having been played in my iTunes library, which means playing it until the end. Long silences at the end of songs are likely to push my patience on this one.
  • It’s the tracks that count, not songs – Multiple versions of the same song all have to be listened to. The most found so far is five – one cover and four of the original in various different guises. That’s five tracks to be listened to all the way through.
  • No revisionism – There’s some rubbish on there, no hiding away from the fact. But nobody put it on there but me (even if the reason is lost in the mists of time), so there’s nobody to blame. It has to be listened to before moving on.
  • New additions count – This remains an evolving collection, so when something is added and drops into the list before the current point, at some point there will be a catch-up session. Plan is to do this at the end of each letter by running through the last played details on iTunes and find out what is missing or out of sync.
  • Breaks are allowed – Let’s be honest, two years or more without any new music or being able to choose exactly what to listen to is not really an option. This is a challenge to be paused and picked up again from where it was left off.

So that’s what and how, but why?

Must admit, did try this a few years ago – albeit on a much smaller iPod – and was very dutiful until hitting the Cs and somehow never quite managed to pluck up courage to tackle the whole five-part Cassandra Gemini suite by The Mars Volta and it somehow never picked up again.

It was fun while it lasted though, with some forgotten treasures and previously unheard tracks – downloaded and never listened to – popping up as great surprises. Anthem For A 17-Year-Old Girl by Broken Social Scene certainly falls into that category and became a constant on playlists for some time afterwards.

There’ll be plenty more forgotten gems, unheard tracks and ones which prompt head scratching as to what they are doing on the iPod in the first place.

And it is these discoveries, plus the tales and memories they evoke and the background to the challenge which will form the basis of this blog.

So let’s see exactly where it takes us…


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