Friday, September 11, 2009

The 25 Best Albums on My iPod

Ages and eras ago (7/1/09) I started a personal journey, my own trip to music's Mecca. Armed with only my earbuds and an Excel sheet, I set out to conquer the mysterious lands of my iPod and discover the best (and worst) albums contained therein. It was a long road and I listened to an average of 7-8 hours of music weekdaily, excluding the two weeks I was in Frankfort. Finally, I have emerged, enlightened and victorious.

The iPod
My iPod is around four years old. It's sleek, black, and has my name on the back of it. I bought it as a gift to myself. It rests inside of a beautiful STAR WARS hard case. At the time, I thought 30 Gigs of music and videos would never be filled. Over time, my music catalog began to grow and my tastes began to expand, and the 30 Gig limit drew closer and closer with time. Currently, I have only 825.3 MB of memory left, but I have intentions of deleting some stuff soon.

The Rules
I knew that going through my iPod was going to be a tangled web of different things, and that if I was going to rank and score my albums then I would have to set up some personal restrictions. First off, I did not count any live albums. Second, I didn't count instrumental/soundtrack albums. Third, and most painfully, I did not count cover albums, or albums that were largely made up of covered songs, thereby eliminating the Johnny Cash American Series, which contains beautiful and simple music from the Man in Black. The last rule dealt with Greatest Hits, Compilation Albums, etc. If I had any individual albums released by an artist and also a Greatest Hits, then I did not listen to the Greatest Hits. However, if I had only a Greatest Hits album for an artist, then the album was included in my quest.

The Numbers
There was a lot of processing to do once I finished my journey. Below is how it all played out.
3416, the number of songs listened to
282, the number of albums listened to
92, the number of different artists represented
16.17 Gigs of music traveled through
220.8 hours of music
9.2 days of music
7/1/2009, the start date of the journey
9/10/2009, the end date of the journey

The Scoring
I created a massive Excel sheet for my notes and scoring as I worked through each album. I tried to be as unbiased as I could, but it's only fair to say that my ears' preferences will be different than yours. I considered lyrics (where I could understand them), music, and the combination of the two for my scoring, as well as the feeling and impression I got from the overall album. You can find this monstrous list available as an open Google Document by following this link. The list contains every album I've listened to, the artist, the score, the rank, a key track from the album, and any notes I may have made.

The 25 Best Albums
The list below begins with the rank, then the album title, then the artist, then a key track.

1. August and Everything After, Counting Crows, "Mr. Jones"
2. Hail to the Thief, Radiohead, "Myxomatosis"
3. The Beatles (White Album), The Beatles, Happiness is a Warm Gun"
4. You Can Tell Georgia, Joe Purdy, "Ode to a Sad Clown"
5. Abbey Road, The Beatles, "Here Comes the Sun"
6. The Shepherd's Dog, Iron & Wine, "Boy With A Coin"
7. Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan, "Like A Rolling Stone"
8. In Rainbows, Radiohead, "Jigsaw Falling Into Place"
9. Blonde on Blonde, Bob Dylan, "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again"
10. Only Four Seasons, Joe Purdy, "Meteor City"
11. OK Computer, Radiohead, "Karma Police"
12. We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, Bruce Springsteen, "Old Dan Tucker"
13. Paris in the Morning, Joe Purdy, "Paris in the Morning"
14. Take My Blanket And Go, Joe Purdy, "Take My Blanket And Go"
15. Astral Weeks, Van Morrison, "Astral Weeks"
16. Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan, "House of the Risin' Sun"
17. Canyon Joe, Joe Purdy, "John Henry and the Old North Wind"
18. El Corazon, Steve Earle, "Christmas In Washington"
19. Jars of Clay, Jars of Clay, "Liquid"
20. Evil Urges, My Morning Jacket, "Sec Walkin"
21. Viva La Vida, Coldplay, "Lost?"
22. The River, Bruce Springsteen, "The River"
23. Stomping Grounds, Joe Purdy, "woman go"
24. Recovering the Satellites, Counting Crows, "A Long December"
25. Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin, "When The Levee Breaks"

The End?
There you have it. My favorite, and the best, 25 albums on my iPod. The journey was long, and sometimes even frightening, but in the end it was fun and informative. It was very tough to pick key tracks from some of these albums, as there are so many great ones, but I gave it my best. I feel like I know what's on my iPod better, and there are some things that I will be deleting.

I hope you've enjoyed this quest. I hope you take a look at the Google document mentioned above (and linked again here). I hope you comment liberally on the results. I hope the results have been revealing to you, and that maybe you'll take my word and try a new artist. Starting next week, I'll individually discuss the top albums, reviewing them and explaining myself a bit on why I chose them.


David Wagner said...

I'll definitely be looking at your notes in depth, though I'm afraid I'm a trifle lame... I've never even heard of Joe Purdy before, and he snagged several of your top 25 slots... so maybe my opinion isn't worth much, eh?

More thoughts after I look at your notes...

Krista said...

I love Bob Dylan and Radiohead! I'll have to try out Joe Prudy, too.

I also looked over at your google doc, and man, all that music must've been one adventure, very cool! Many titles I'll be looking into.

Oh, and I really love the new header!

David Wagner said...

I'd be curious to know your scoring system. Was it just a simple, gut thing, or did you score categories, etc.? Did you just put the music on in the background while you did other stuff, or did you focus exclusively on the music when listening, taking notes for each song?

A lot of the artists I haven't heard of before, and some artists I found conspicuous by their absence... still, it's quite fascinating, especially for a stats hound like me... more thoughts later...

logankstewart said...

@David: Joe Purdy is phenomenal. I'll be posting on him later. As for being a stats hound, me too. I took a few prob & stats classes throughout my college career and enjoyed them. As for your question, it was 50/50. Some albums were just background music while I worked, while others I really tried to focus on. The scoring was semi-based on the percentage of how many songs I enjoyed and liked off the album, mixed with my gut and overall impression. I didn't take notes for each song, but I did rank several of the individual songs using the itunes ***** method. Which artists are you surprised to not see on my ipod? I'm always up for suggestions.

@Krista: I went for a month or so of listening to nothing but Radiohead in my car one time, and it was an amazing month. You should definitely check out some of the titles. I can easily recommend the Top 25 or 50 albums to start with. I'll give full recommendations later.

Thanks, I really like this header work, too.