One of the many issues I have with the new Music app (and with the old Music app, in truth) is the way it so often forgets where you were in the Great Alphabetical List of Songs. I find alphabetical playback the most satisfying form of shuffle, because (apart from the ordering), it genuinely throws up interesting juxtapositions. But if you have hundreds or thousands of songs on your device and the software forgets where it got to, you often find yourself frustrated trying to find the right spot in the playlist. Not to mention this is dangerous while you’re driving.
Siri doesn’t seem smart enough to start playback from a particular letter of the alphabet, so I hit upon the idea of building a selection of playlists of songs that start with a different letter. This is actually a vision I have for a podcast: a genre and era-defying programme, with tracks played alphabetically. For me, it makes things more interesting if you can restrict it to a time limit. I originally thought an hour, but if you want to throw back to the old mixtape days, you could restrict to 90 minutes.
I can then tell Siri to play the A playlist, the B playlist as so on.
You can set this up manually, or do it algorithmically, by setting up a smart playlist where Name begins with A and Rating is over *** (i.e. four stars and above) selected by Random, or Least often Played or Most Recently Added, whichever you prefer. I chose least often played, which is why Brad Paisley’s ‘American Saturday Night’ didn’t make the cut.
(You then encounter one of the under-reported major issues with the new iTunes/Music updates, which is that hundreds of your painstakingly created star ratings have been zeroed. Not all of them, no, because that would make some kind of sense. No, it’s just a selection of them, apparently randomly chosen, just to fuck you up. Furthermore, you discover that the new iTunes sees zero stars as being Greater Than three stars. So you then have to spend fucking ages re-establishing some semblance of star rating by giving everything at least a one star rating. Except this isn’t as simple as it should be, because iTunes won’t let you select items that are different types of media. So you have to manually exclude all the digital booklets, music videos, etc. Thanks, Apple. Thanks so fucking much.)
So what sounded fun to start with has quickly descended into a nightmare of dealing with buggy software and trying to work out why it’s making certain decisions. Here is the first playlist thus created: an hour and 28 minutes of randdom alphabetti musicetti:
- Against the Wind / Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band 5:34
- Airstream Song / Miranda Lambert 2:48
- All About Tonight / Blake Shelton 3:26
- All Kinds of Kinds / Miranda Lambert 4:27
- All We Are / Sugarland 3:49
- Already Gone / Eagles 4:15
- Already Gone / Sugarland 4:36
- Am I The Only One (Who’s Ever Felt This Way?) / Maria McKee 2:57
- American Girl (Live At the Cow Palace) / Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers5:20
- American Honey / Lady Antebellum 3:45
- American Land / Bruce Springsteen 4:23
- American Skin (41 Shots) / Bruce Springsteen 7:24
- Angry Young Man (Live) / Steve Earle 4:30
- Anyone Else / Blake Shelton 4:22
- Anyone Who Had a Heart / Wynonna Judd 4:02
- April Showers / Sugarland 3:27
- Automatic / Miranda Lambert 4:08
- A Certain Boy [originally written as “A Certain Girl”] /… 3:31
- A Good Heart / Maria McKee 5:38
- A Hanging On / Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis 2:51
- A Lover’s Concerto / The Toys 2:34
Hopefully, in spite of all the pain and anger in dealing with our new disfunctional software overlords, this will work out quite well for the forthcoming holiday trip. 25 x 90 minutes is 37 or so hours. And there might be a bonus playlist of songs starting with numbers.