Over at FACT (where I'm contributing a little), they've already put together a Top 20 Albums for 2009-to-date. I honestly hadn't thought about doing anything like that for 2009--odd, if you consider that quarter-year list (or mix) making is precisely what I've done the past two years. I think it's partly because being I'm using the kind of mindfulness that comes to the fore in endeavors such as list making and its like in a more everyday manner. And frankly the year has seemed so narrow even beyond my self-made parameters; I didn't figure I'd particularly want to assess it that way. But FACT waved the flag, and I, Ferdinand, cannot deny what I am. So I dumped three iTunes folders into one, ferreted out duplicates, mixes, extras, horrors ("I Love College"), and various dubiousness, and was stunned by what is most assuredly a penultimate number: 70 tracks.
Not 70 tracks I unabashedly love; not even 70 tracks I could hum at a second's notice. (Bet there's a dozen of those, and not just because I like music you can't hum.) But 70 tracks, each one (a) summing up and/or representing an album I liked well enough to pick a favorite from, (b) sufficiently hyped as a solo MP3 that I went ahead and grabbed instead of putting in a folder or onto a list to take care of later, (c) actual airplay hits I found for free on the Internet, or (d) singles I found on eMusic, usually courtesy of 17 Dots. To me, this is a shamefully narrow array of source material. I've barely touched the charts, which I spent '08 mining pretty consistently (the margin of interest was narrower than promos/word-of-mouth but I learned more); and of course there are the hundreds of links and emails I haven't gotten to.
So 70 is a large number, and I think listening more attentively is a lot of why. I had a mental-audio image of nearly everything I kept, and skipping through them all to see what I might cut, only two or three don't match up to my expectations. That's pretty good. Obviously there's still a lot to cut; 40 seems about right. But this is encouraging. And once I'm done with the six albums I have left from the prior post (stealth listening can be fun), I will start digging into those old emails and the list of links for real.
Update: final Top 40 is here.