Top 366

I was going to post this nearly two months ago when the idea first struck me. But I was still in my post-transplant fugue. Any grand ideas I entertained before returning to work were likely to be shelved. Still, I tried mightily to come up with some grand ideas. For a better or worse, the one that seems to have survived has more to do with looking backwards than forwards

I had been vacillating between doing this and just letting the idea fade away for a few years. In the 90’s, I made 140 mix tapes and then a few dozen mix CDs, all mostly filled with the brand of soft rock, melodic easy listening, and love songs that only I and Delila listeners seem to favor. To be fair to myself, I’d throw in the occasional game-changer that Delila would never touch, something like Nine Inch Nails’ Closer.

I listened to these tapes on the high school school bus, having the bus-driver play them but hoping no one would notice who had offered up the tapes (though, at the same time, I hoped people would know and love them. That was not going to happen). I force fed this music to anyone in college and beyond who wound up as a passenger in my car. Why am I using the past tense? I still do.

Betwixt these mix tapes, I made five Top 100 sets of tapes. Actually, I DJ’ed them. I did voice-over intros and fade out. “Meat Loaf is up a whopping 26 notches!” There was a science to my song ratings. I’d listen to most of my music library and give every song a rating on a ten-point scale down to one decimal point. At least, that was one rating scheme that I used at least a couple of times. Another rating method I used consisted of recording where I’d anticipate songs would wind up, somewhere between 1 and 200. Songs I thought deserved Top 100 status would get a rating from 1-100. The eventual cut-off was probably around 80. If I heard a song multiple times during my rating period, I’d rate it multiple times. Actually, I think I insisted on rating everything at least a couple of times, so no song was rated on a single whim. I’ve got printouts of these countdowns somewhere.

I must have done a Top 100 at least once a year, because I expanded to a Top 200 by my senior year of college. For this mega-countdown, I decided I’d incorporate the ratings of a few friends, in order to temper my fondness for the cheesiest of songs and make a countdown that might be somewhat for palatable to the masses. (Upon further reflection, I think I’d try to throw in some sort of “popularity” metrics in other countdowns, too. I always felt the need to hedge against my horrible tastes, rather than embracing that I had brilliant taste). On a long road trip, I made them listen to as much of my music library as I could, probably via the previous Top 100 countdown, and I’d record them giving their rating. If Celine Dion came on, Yo would shot out “Three-hundred!” I think friends’ aggregate votes counted as 50% of the ratings.

Anywho, I’ve now been scribbling down ratings for nearly every song I’ve listened to since late August. Really. Well, unless I was listening to something that I knew would never make a Top 366 countdown. But, even then, I’ve been rating songs that are conventionally brilliant that I have zero affinity for. Somehow, no song I rate gets lower than a 6.0. Lately, any song I really like falls in the 9.0-9.5 range. I think the 366-cutoff may be somewhere around 7.8. I know this, because I’ve cheated a bit in taking peeks at the running averages in my Giant Top 366 Google Spreadsheet.

See, if I had an ideal job, I’d keep track of a gigantic spreadsheet and run metrics all day.

I’ve been tempted to write more about this process. Every day, I have emotional reactions to songs. But I react to viscerally differently to music than anyone I know–it’s a lonely experience–that I’m so hesitant to share more. I realize that these are personal interests that aren’t shared or appreciated, for the most part. Of all the needless crap I blog about, my song posts are probably the most self-absorbed. I’m basically saying, “This affects me SO much… but I realize it does nothing for you. Furthermore, you would probably mock this if you were to say anything.”

There was Toastie Radio, the online streaming I did for much of the 2000s, which enjoyed, at its peak, some 45-50 concurrent listeners (and/or steam-rippers) throughout the world. That was occasionally rewarding, but usually just frustrating, since I always envisioned doing more with the site and never followed through. (toastieradio.com is now a link farm)

So, now there will be the Top 366.

Oh, crap. top366.com has been taken…since 2004. There goes two months of planning, or perhaps it’s more apt to say that there’s my lack-of-planning…

Hmm…besides a domain, I probably want to make sure I can get a corresponding Google account…and a Twitter account…Top 367…Top 368…

So, it’s going to be the Top 379…


As of 10/18 at 11:55 PM, I’ve rated 510 different songs an average of 1.7 times. (That includes 35 songs rated 4 times each and 1 song rated 8 times so far. Like I said, I rate a song every time I hear it.)

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