Greetings. I’ve spent the last nine and a half months reviewing the list of songs and standardizing the song data. I will now impose a moratorium on new additions, and declare the current collection as Revision 1. This is the largest project I’ve worked on; after years of regular writing and evaluating, I redoubled my efforts and pored through the song data with great purpose. It feels great to be finished, coupled with both exhaustion and a gnawing doubt that it was unimportant work.
Similar to the evolution of the artist profiles, the scope of the effort increased once I delved in. I expected to identify song composer(s) and year of the recording date. By the time I was midway through, I was citing the original disc or CD, and replacing inferior files with higher quality ones. In some cases iTunes has loud, crisp, remastered files, and in others I reloaded my own CD at the 320 kbps maximum data rate. By comparison, songs downloaded during the initial 2005 effort were downloaded at 128 kbps. The collection is still only 84 GB in size.
Over the last couple years, I removed hundreds of songs, while adding well over a thousand new songs. As a result, the average rating has dropped once again. New songs rarely impress on the first or second listen; if they “make the cut”, songs usually receive one or two stars to start, and then sometimes move into the upper echelon of all-time favorites.
Despite the lower average rating, the quality of the collection is much improved, with far greater variety. The shuffle function now yields a delightful cross section of the people’s music.
5-star songs: 82
4-star songs: 623
3-star songs: 1814
2-star songs: 4296
1-star songs: 4111
0-star songs: 23
Total number of songs: 10949
Average song rating: 1.92
Most songs rated zero stars are either short musical segments, cartoon songs, or commercial interludes. Only two full-length songs earn the coveted zero — William Shatner’s classic “Spleen / Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, and one newcomer, Marcia Strassman’s “The Flower Children”. Best remembered as the wife on the 70s sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter”, Strassman’s impassioned performance seems in direct conflict with the hippie movement. Zero quatloos for the newcomer!
The Flower Children
Uni 55006 (45)
Jerry Goldstein – Tim Hudson – Russ Regan
The effort to complete the recording data was remarkably successful. Gracenote is a Bay Area company that maintains an open source database of CD music info. Theoretically, when you download songs from a CD, the recording data is automatically transferred along with the song file. However, the data is often incomplete or incorrect, and there is no standardized formatting of data. Starting with a hodgepodge of incomplete data, I relied on Internet resources and my own album data to fill out each field. About halfway through, I decided it that in many cases, it would be cool to use the original 45 or 78 rpm single data as the identifying album. Composer data is presented using first and last names of all composers of a given song. Each co-composer is separated by one space and a short dash. For example, “John Lennon – Paul McCartney” is the most common credit for composer. All words in song and album titles are to be capitalized.
After reviewing and researching almost 11,000 entries, the recording year for only 28 songs was not identified. Even more remarkable, the composer(s) could not be found for just 7 songs. About half of the unfinished data is for old Mexican songs. In a few cases, recording year was interpreted from the album release date; if an album was released late in a year, and no specific recording information could be found, I assumed the recordings were made the same year.
I recently added Bad Moon Rising to my short list of 5 star songs. It is a simple, swinging and prophetic little song.
“I hear hurricanes a blowing.
I know the end is coming soon.
I fear rivers over flowing.
I hear the voice of rage and ruin.”
Bad Moon Rising
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Fantasy 622 (45)
My friend Peter P. is a fellow Benny Goodman fan. We were going to try and meet in Michigan next month, but he would have to travel from his home near Toronto. His wife is quite inform these days, so Peter decided he needs to stay home. One of Peter’s favorite Goodman songs is “Where Or When”. Here Goodman’s small band backs Peggy Lee on Christmas Eve, 1941, three weeks after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and America entered World War II in earnest:
Where Or When
Benny Goodman & His Sextet
OKeh 6553 (78 rpm)
Lorenz Hart – Richard Rodgers
Vocal chorus by Peggy Lee.
I use NPR as a primary source for new music. As a result, my modern song choices tend to be outside the mainstream. Here Caitlin Canty performs “Get Up”:
Reckless Skyline (LP)