There just isn’t enough time to listen to every song in the world. For someone who fancies himself a music connoisseur, I have very few songs on my computer—6,438, to be exact. Even so, the iTunes footer says it would take an hour more than 3 weeks to listen to all of them. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, and 3 goes into 52 approximately 17.3 times, I’ve calculated that I could only listen to approximately 111,592 songs per year if I unceasingly streamed music without so much as a 15-second masturbation break. That’s extremely disheartening, both because a number much, much lower than that is my APMI (Actual Possible Music Intake) and because masturbation is an indispensable behavior.
Anyway, I could realistically enjoy just a fraction of those 111,592 songs (say, for instance, 18,599, and that’s averaging four hours of listening per day for 365 days)—and this all is premised on the supposition that I could amass a collection of that size in the first place.
It is axiomatic of all the arts that a single individual could never familiarize him/herself with an entire history. No one could possibly read every book or gaze upon every painting. Therefore, any person’s knowledge of music or art or writing will inevitably be flawed, since everyone’s opinions and beliefs are the result of small, skewed sample sizes. Just as is the case in the scientific community, one may not hypothesize based upon a fatally undersized sample.
Say, for example, that I was familiar with 500,000 songs, but all of them were operatic arias, or bluegrass laments, or experimental clarinet concertos. Anyone would tell me that, despite the sheer volume of my collection, I would be in no position to posit anything about music at large. My sample, they would say, was skewed.
So what’s the practical difference between that hypothetical scenario and my current reality? Or all of our current realities? As things stand now, I know way less than half a million songs, and I couldn’t name a single person whose familiarity spans anywhere close to that amount. Still, we make unending ridiculous generalities about music, presumptuously and idiotically assuming we know a single thing about it. We may or we may not—but, in the ultimate of macro-impossibilities, we can’t even know whether or not we know anything. That indisputable truth translates to the following: shut the fuck up. Don’t premise your arguments by positing a "best album ever," and don't pretend you possess the unique, unheralded knowledge of which song is the greatest ever written. Were the Beatles the best band of all-time? Maybe, but not because you say so. There's no way you, me, or anyone else could really tell with any degree of finality, so it would be complete chance if you happened to be correct about the Fab Four.
Especially egregious are those who respond to "What kind of music do you listen to?" with, "Oh, I don't know. I like pretty much everything." Really? Are you a million years old? Because that's about how long it would take to listen to "everything." And, even if you did, you'd be more concerned with convincing your friends that you like all of it than with appreciating what you had. And that would make you a very stupid one-million-year-old.
That said, Justin Timberlake’s Futuresex/Loveshow is on HBO in six days. It’s going to be the best concert ever.
Stay Small, iTunes Library
MC My Love