Donut Age: America's Donut Magazine

Fun with Smart Playlists

iTunes's Smart Playlist feature (which creates dynamic song lists based on search criteria) is useful for all sorts of silly things. Among the ones I am currently using:

Never Played: With 4486 songs in my library (and counting), it's easy for things to get forgotten. If I feel like I am getting into a rut, I just put this list on random play for a while and make interesting (re)discoveries.

Decade lists: It's interesting to listen to songs in their contemporary contexts. Also interesting to see where and when my music is coming from. Current counts by decade: 1950s, 88 songs; 1960s, 202 songs; 1970s, 501 songs; 1980s, 897 songs; 1990s, 1799 songs; 2000s, 883 songs. Those figures are likely skewed by the fact that I have not always made sure that I had the real date of songs/albums rather than of the CD re-issue, but the general curve is probably accurate.

Artist anthologies: Inveterate project-hoppers like Stephin Merrit (Magnetic Fields, Gothic Archies, Future Bible Heroes, 6ths) and Jenny Toomey (Tsunami, Geek, Liquorice, Grenadine, My New Boyfriend) are an organizational nightmare for physical music collections. In iTunes, I can keep their complete oeuvres neatly bundled for those retrospective reviews I keep meaning to write.

Instant compilations: With some judicious searching of song titles, you can create interesting "thematic" playlists. I've just started to play with this. Here's my "Four Horsemen" mix, perhaps inspired by recent world events:

  • "Death Letter Blues," Son House, The Original Delta Blues, 1998
  • "Ramp Of Death," Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Pig Lib, 2003
  • "Spraycan Wars," The Minutemen, Post Mersh Vol. 3, 1988
  • "Sickles And Hammers," The Minutemen, Post Mersh Vol. 3, 1988
  • "Dinner Music For A Pack Of Hungry Cannibals," The Kronos Quartet, Released / Unreleased, 1995
  • "Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground," The White Stripes, White Blood Cells, 2001
  • "Death or Glory," The Clash, London Calling, 1979
  • "Texada Warns Me," Mecca Normal, Flood Plain, 1993
  • "The Dead Only Quickly (w/Neil Hannon)," The 6ths," Hyacinths & Thistles, 2000
  • "Holy War," Matthew Sweet, Girlfriend, 1991
  • "Needle of Death," Yo La Tengo, Today is the Day, 2003
  • "Ghetto Musick," Outkast, Speakerboxxx, 2003
  • "Doing It To Death," James Brown, Star Time, 1974
  • "Deado," Stephen Malkmus, Stephen Malkmus, 2001
  • "Paul is Dead," Yo La Tengo, Electr-o-pura, 1995
  • "I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother's Heart," The White Stripes, Elephant, 2003
  • "Sick of You," Lou Reed, New York, 1989
  • "Warrior King," Lou Reed, Magic And Loss, 1992
  • "Death Letter," The White Stripes, De Stijl, 2000
  • "Wart Hog," The Ramones, Too Tough To Die, 1984
  • "Doina/Death March Suite," David Krakauer, Klezmer Madness!, 1995
  • "Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead," Warren Zevon, Genius: The Best Of, 2002
  • "Civil War," Blake Babies, God Bless The Blake Babies, 2001
  • "One Step Forward," Railroad Jerk, What's Up Matador?, 1997
  • "Slip Away (A Warning)," Lou Reed & John Cale , Songs For Drella, 1990
  • "War (Single Version)," Edwin Starr, Motown Legends: War - Twenty-Five Miles, 1971
  • "Love In War," Outkast, The Love Below, 2003
  • "O Death," Camper Van Beethoven, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart, 1988
  • "Wall Of Death," Richard and Linda Thompson, Shoot Out The Lights, 1982
  • "Jealous Daddy's Death Song," Jeffrey Frederick & The Clamtones, Michael Hurley & Unholy Modal Rounders, Have Moicy!, 1975
  • "The Sick Bed Of Cuchuliann," The Pogues, Rum, Sodomy And The Lash, 1985
  • "Deadbeat Club," The B-52's, Time Capsule: Songs For A Future Generation, 1989
  • "Death Of A Thought Returns," Great Plains, Length Of Growth 1981-89, 1984
  • "I Fought in a War," Belle & Sebastian, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant, 2000
  • "Life During Wartime (Live)," Talking Heads, Sand In The Vaseline, 1992
  • "Poor Edward," Tom Waits, Alice, 2002
  • "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm," Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald, Ella & Louis, 1957
  • "Dead Wrestlers," Bis, Music For A Stranger World, 2000
  • "No! No! No! To Draft And War & Joe McCarthy's Ghost [Live]," The Minutemen, Ballot Result, 1987
  • "Don't Let Us Get Sick," Warren Zevon, Life'll Kill Ya, 2000
  • "The Black Angel's Death Song," The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground & Nico, 1967
  • "War," Outkast, Speakerboxxx, 2003
  • "Warrior In Woolworths," X-Ray Spex, Germfree Adolescents, 1978
  • "The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure," The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs, Vol. 3, 1999
  • "Dead Shark," Liz Phair, Juvenilia, 1995
  • "Award Tour," A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders, 1993
  • "Dead Fly The Birds," Ass Ponys, The Known Universe, 1996
  • "Dead Bird's Feet," Mecca Normal, Water Cuts My Hands, 1990
  • "Warning Sign," Talking Heads, Sand In The Vaseline, 1992
  • "Deathbedside Manner," New Bomb Turks, Pissing Out The Poison, 1993
  • "Death to Our Friends," Sonic Youth, EVOL, 1986
  • "Dead End America," The Pagans, Shit Street, 1978
  • "America-Before The War," The Kronos Quartet, Released / Unreleased, 1995
  • "English Civil War," The Clash, Give 'Em Enough Rope, 1978
  • "Centre For Holy Wars," The New Pornographers, Mass Romantic, 2000

It's a fairly simple song-title search for death, war, plague, and famine, (along with several variants). The searching options are a little limited, which is why you also see "WARns" and "edWARd" (you can't restrict to whole words). But in this case, even the false hits seem to fit in.