The Richmond Anthology of Music is a collection of the greatest pieces of music of all time - the 1st edition, released January 2020, is 3010 tracks total. And most of them are on Spotify! If you want to very quickly find out what the Anthology is all about, put on the complete Spotify playlist here. Pick a random spot in the list and press play, or put on shuffle if you’re feeling adventurous.
If you like what you hear, subscribe to the official Richmond Anthology Twitter to get a curated list in your feed daily, and keep browsing this site for more insight into the list’s creation and fun facts.OK. I’m all caught up now. You said in the foreword you assembled the bulk of the Anthology by going year by year through music history. How does that work in practice?
My process is mostly a lot of Google deep-diving (shocker!). Once I have a year I’m ready to target (let’s say 1999), I start by looking at Billboard and Soundscan charts to see what the most popular songs were that year. (No point in an Anthology that doesn’t include a healthy percentage of the music people were actually listening to - otherwise I'm just plumbing esoterica.) Then---Wait, what if a popular song from that year was terrible? Eagle Eye Cherry’s “Save Tonight” was one of the most popular songs of 1999, it’s nowhere to be found.
That’s right. Like Fight Club, the Richmond Anthology has a very simple Rule Number One:
No bad songs.
Or more concretely:
No songs I (Josh Richmond, the curator and namesake of the Anthology) think are bad.
With that in mind, I’m still striving for a list that includes quite a lot of broadly popular music. Otherwise, how could I claim this list is representative of anything but one narrow hipster’s taste? You should be able to see American popular taste evolve as you make your way through the list.
So “Save Tonight” is not in the Anthology, but the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Slide,” a similarly goopy but much better rock song that hit with the adult alternative crowd in 1999, is here to represent that niche. Santana’s “Smooth," one of the most popular singles of all time and a song I detest, is not here, but “Maria Maria” from the same album is. I want all the major artists, genres and musical trends to get their moment, and that’s why I usually start with the Billboard Hot 100.OK. I have questions but continue.
I have a lot more sources I use regularly as research, which I’ve listed comprehensively in the Appendices section. But the short version is: after looking through the Billboard charts, I’ll start looking through critic’s picks and best-of lists for the most critically acclaimed music of that year. Next, I’ll break my search down by genre, looking for the best country songs of 1999, or the best movie scores.
Sometimes I’ll use more specialized sources - for 1999, a year I was an alt-rock radio devotee, I went back to the KROQ archives to see what was in heavy rotation that year, and build an alt-rock chunk that felt authentic. And after exhausting my major research avenues, I might just type something like “Best 1999 Songs” into Google or Spotify and click some random links, usually taking me to some random fan’s favorites from that year. Injecting a little aleatory into the process keeps the research process organic and led me to some brilliant songs I might not have otherwise picked (this is how I discovered Suzanne Ciani, for example).
Then all through this process, I’m throwing songs I've Googled into a Spotify shortlist for that year, or trying to find Apple/YouTube/other sources for tracks not available on Spotify. Once I think I’ve got enough songs, I stop the research process and start relistening and culling.How many songs total did you listen to in making the Anthology?
I didn't keep careful track, but around 60,000.Wow!
Why wow? Is that high or low?I mean, that’s a lot. But enough to say you’ve truly heard the full spectrum of all music that has ever existed?
That’s about 4000 hrs of listening (and doesn’t even take into account relistening.) It took me over 15 years to get through that many!
For my first pass on a playlist for each year, I made a shortlist of 250-300 songs, then whittled them down to 36. I later added many more when expanding, revising and polishing the complete list. It's a pretty thorough process, and yet I know I have blindspots and areas I missed (which I’ll get to in another answer).So it’s that simple, just choose the best songs from each year?
Well, it’s not that simple. To ensure a diverse, well-balanced list I instituted other important restrictions. Let’s discuss some of the major ones:
It was hard! Well, sometimes it was easy. Oh dear, whichever Third Eye Blind song did I pick? They have so many huge hits---Hey, “Never Let You Go” is an excellent single from their underrated second album!
You aren’t wrong! But space is limited, and for most artists I had no problem going with the obvious choice. It’s much harder for certain heavy hitters. Let’s take a look at Mr. Bob Dylan as an example. The Dylan tracks in the Anthology’s 1st Edition are “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” “Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again,” and “Love Sick.”
Dylan changed the course of popular music in two consecutive but distinct eras. In the early 60s, he popularized a folk revival, and in the mid-60s, he went electric, helped invent folk-rock, and, along with the Beatles, sparked the development of a critical apparatus that took pop music seriously as an art form, a direct precursor to quixotic eggheaded projects like this one. So I represented each of these important Dylan eras with two tracks: acoustic songs highlighting both his political views and his acid take on relationships, and selections from his most acclaimed mid-60s albums that prove his knack for cryptic wordplay married to cozy, drawling melodies.
But Dylan has released over 30 studio albums since Blonde On Blonde - albums acclaimed, despised, overrated, underrated, and deeply divisive. What an agonizing choice to pick one more song from these! I ultimately went with “Love Sick” from Time Out Of Mind, which is my favorite post-60s Dylan album, a major comeback for him, and a perverse departure from his classic sound, with his voice worn down by time and age. But including that means I couldn't include anything from Blood On The Tracks, and maybe I should have put “Tangled Up In Blue” on over “Stuck Inside Of Mobile.”You should have, it was the wrong call.
Maybe it’ll change in the 2nd Edition. But the whole point of curating a project like this is making tough calls. I made more controversial ones than that, I promise. The Anthology comes out of thousands of hard decisions, some of which I will one day change my mind about, but all made thoughtfully and purposefully.So why 3010 songs?
It’s a little bit arbitrary, to be completely honest. Initially the plan was to have 360 songs per decade from the 60s on, with another 360 to represent all music before 1960. That would have been 2520 songs total through 2020. But when I assembled my first rough list of 2500, it just felt too small.
Now, I didn't want to make the criteria too permissive. The last few cuts should hurt. Some songs I absolutely adore barely missed the final cut. But I was cutting out way too much in the first draft, and leaving entire genres unrepresented. So I upped the count to 400 per decade, then 430, which finally felt right. 430 allows for a well-rounded representation that isn’t so huge I have to dig for some subpar snoozy doo-wop from 1961 to fill out the early 60s. And 3010 is a lovely final number! It’s almost 3000, so I can round it down to a clean catchy tally, while generously allowing for 10 bonus songs.And every decade has the same number of songs?
Except for pre-1960 music, yes. This is another very important restriction, a consequence of the year-by-year origins of the list. For a while, every year had the same number of songs, which was very symmetrical and neat and pleasing and disregarded the reality that some years are just better for music than others. Granting myself a little flexibility to give 1979 53 songs and 1974 29 made putting my 70s list together so much easier.
But going further and lifting the decade restriction, so I could include more songs from the 70s than the 80s, gets into dangerous territory. A core part of the Anthology’s mission is to represent every era of music, fairly. And bias against new music and towards older music is rampant - so widespread, you could argue it’s part of the human condition. The music we loved in youth will always hit different than the music we first hear as adults. (For similar reasons, some young people are biased against old music - don’t Google “The Beatles are overrated” unless you want to give yourself a rage aneurysm.)
If you’re a reader who thinks the music of the 70s, or 80s, or 90s is objectively better than the music of today - I can’t prove you’re wrong, but ask yourself, how would you strike a better balance? Would you include twice as many songs from the 70s as the 00s? Would you not include any music after 2010 at all? At what point does that warp the list so much it breaks? And what’s your reasoning? Led Zeppelin is more critically acclaimed than Justin Bieber *now*, but they weren’t in the 70s! They’ve had fifty years to see their reputation improve and influence grow. Bieber hasn’t had that chance. How can you compare apples and oranges?I feel confident Led Zeppelin is better than Justin Bieber - but I do see your point, that you can’t play favorites with musical eras while claiming to represent the whole of music.
The only fair solution, for a list like this, is to have the same number of songs from every musical period. A decade is an arbitrary measurement, but weighting each arbitrary block of 10 years equally allows for quite a bit of curatorial flexibility, while acting as a check against my own biases.Wait, you glossed over something - you limited the entirety of music before 1960 to 430 tracks? And that’s not bias? Decades of jazz, centuries of classical, millennia of folk music---
Hold your horses, Buster Brown. Something you need to understand about music before 1960 (again, kind of an arbitrary date, but I had to draw a line somewhere) - in the first half of the 20th century, there was simply less recorded music.
For most of human history, music was a highly localized thing you went out to see - towns and cities had their own musicians, or if you lived in a small village, you might be lucky enough to be visited by a traveling bard. If you wanted to listen to music at home, you had to buy the instruments and sheet music and learn to play it yourself. In the late 19th century, we figured out how to record and reproduce musical performances, but the technology was very expensive, the reproductions were low quality, and most people didn’t own their own phonographs. It took the invention of radio, and the development of a robust mass culture in the 30s and 40s, for a recorded music industry to take off - and even then, it didn’t REALLY explode until the youth revolution of the 60s.
The Anthology includes 11 songs from 1945, and it wouldn’t make sense to include 40 or more - trust me, the pickins get really slim. It’s not because the 40s were worse for music than the 60s, exactly - you could put Sinatra and Crosby up against the best of any decade - but when you have so many fewer records to choose from, there’s no deep bench of unheard gems after the obvious stars.I get all that, but it still seems like an impossible task to squeeze everything from Bach and beyond to Elvis into the same amount of Anthology space you give 1980-1989. How did you approach curating this period?
I initially devised a logarithmic rolloff for this section - meaning, of the 430 songs from before 1960, 215 would be from the 50s, 105-110 would be from the 40s, 50-55 would be from the 30s, 25 from 1900-1930, and 25 from before 1900. This way, the list grows along with the nascent recording industry, and the shuffled listening experience isn’t overly cluttered with low-quality early recordings. Wax cylinders weren’t very exciting to listen to even when they were new tech!
This approach worked well on the whole - the biggest change I made for the final 1st Edition was giving extra space to pre-20th-century music, which felt like it wasn’t getting its due. The breakthrough moment was finding a way to represent music written in the baroque and classical eras, through a dual-year system that can slot newer performances of older music into either era. Now, the Anthology includes a healthy portion of pre-modern classical music (that will still probably feel cut to the bone if you’re a classical nut), plus a lively selection of very old folk tunes and indigenous music. Those early chapters were some of my favorites to put together!Jesus, man. You put so much time into this thing - but I’ve gotta ask you something.
Shoot.You made this list of 3000 good songs, and really, nice job. But there are millions of Spotify and Apple Music playlists that are endless lists of good songs. Some are even longer! And there are specialized genre playlists, and celebrity-curated playlists, and algorithmic playlists that can predict what I’ll like. Why is this list an interesting or special thing? Why should I be excited about it?
I can’t make you excited about anything, friend. In fact, I would not be surprised if many readers are wondering why they should give a shit about any of this. Maybe most readers. If no one but me thinks the Anthology is interesting, that’s an acceptable outcome. I made it for myself; I share it out of generosity, and a hunch that someone, somewhere, will get a kick out of it.
I can’t make you excited, but I can tell you why I think it’s exciting. I’ve been a music fan for more or less my entire life. In some ways, it’s easier than ever to discover new music - but in some ways, it’s much harder. We now have the ability to find virtually any song ever, usually within seconds, and start playing it, usually for free.It’s fucking magic.
It is! It’s a godsend, and it’s completely overwhelming. Every time I get in the car, or go for a run, and want to listen to some music - what do I do? What do I put on? I have so many options, instantly available. Usually I do one of two things - I put on an old favorite, something I know I’ll like. Or I’ll put on a playlist like Rap Caviar or Rock Classics. Which, whether that list is picked by a professional curator or spit out by an algorithm, is someone taking the choice out of my hands, and telling me what to listen to.I often just put on the radio.
Exactly! This is why so many people are still drawn to good old FM radio, the ability to press a button and let someone else, human or machine, make the choice for you.
But these playlists aren’t really engines of discovery. They will play you new songs, sure - but they’ll be songs in the exact same style as what you already know you like. If you like rap, or metal, you’ll continue listening to rap or metal. Just like social media can create an information bubble, streaming services can foster a musical bubble. As the monoculture disappears, we lose the ability to discover stuff from the outside world that challenges our tastes, and we all stay in our lanes.And there used to be more ways for casual music fans to discover boundary-pushing new music, he asked skeptically?
Corporate radio’s been bad forever, sure, but flipping between stations offers the thrill of something new, a blip of Mexican radio or disco. You could consistently find something strange and new at record shops, combing through stacks and finding an odd or striking album cover. Just being in a world with more of a public square opened up the opportunities for discovery. Even in my not-that-distant heyday downloading mp3s off Napster and blogs, you could stumble into an interesting person’s song library, or find smart writers fawning over a .rar of some great prog obscurity. That ecosystem has degraded so much, and it’s not done yet. I worry that soon, nothing will penetrate our headphone bubbles. And who knows, maybe some of my recent drive to collect and curate is wrapped up in anxiety, from a person who’s lived for music his whole life, about the fact that most adults stop listening to new music at age 33 and I’m just about to turn 34---I’m enjoying this diversion but you’ve gone way off track.
Right, yes. Maybe the best way to put it is: it’s harder than ever to discover interesting new music. Once you know what to look for, you can learn everything about it immediately, but how do you know what to look for? The Anthology is a way to answer that question. If you listen to the whole thing, start to finish, you’ll get to hear at least a little bit of everything that’s ever been done. Every major style, every period, every artist, every trend, is represented in the list by at least one awesome song. If you hear a song you’ve never heard before, and love it, you can do your own follow-up research, and use it as a jumping-off point for a whole world of like-minded music. It’s the ultimate tool to pop your bubble and open yourself up to real discovery.
I find that super exciting. And you may not, and when you listen you may well find a whole lot of stuff that you hate as well as love. To really get the most out of the Anthology requires active listening - if you want pure background wallpaper, put on Spotify’s Mood Booster or some other algo-list. But some music lovers, I think, will be compelled to rise to the challenge.I think I get it now. That’s a cool idea. But here’s the thing - to create this perfect ideal list that contains a little bit of everything, shouldn’t you be a beyond super-expert musicologist? Or better yet, a team of them? That’s how these giant canonical lists usually get made. If one person is going to do it, why on Earth are you the one?
Well, I had the idea to do it. I don’t see anyone else doing it. And I have really good taste! I’m not a trained expert, but I’m an autodidact and obsessive fan who’s gone down thousands of Wiki rabbit holes. So why not me?Because it’s not really a definitive list then, is it? It’s just your opinion.
Uh, yeah, duh. There’s no version of this that wouldn’t be someone’s opinion. All criticism is opinion. And in my opinion, I have very good opinions on music. That’s why I’m the one.You should do a democratic “Pazz & Jop” style list and mix the opinions of 100 critics, all voting for their picks. Wouldn’t that cut down on bias?
A little bias is a good thing, in my biased opinion. Part of the joy of doing this myself is can throw in a few selections only I would make, because I believe there’s something sacred and special and worth preserving about them. No one else would come up with the list I came up with, which means it’s perfect. (And, as a longtime connoisseur of canons and best-of lists, the choices of a hive-mind are often boring and unimaginative compared to those made by single critics.)Isn’t it possible that some genres or styles of music just suck? Why does there have to be a rap metal song in the top 3000?
How dare you. Go listen to Chapter 209, then apologize.Or a Christian rock song, then? Some genres must have nothing worthwhile to recommend.
I disagree. There are a lot of bad songs out there (more than good songs, certainly), and some genres have a higher proportion of bad songs than others. But every genre has something worth spotlighting, a unique frisson that only it can offer. Christian rock isn’t a genre I connect to naturally, but I’m glad I made the effort to try; I found a couple tracks I really enjoy that made it into the Anthology (and a few more I liked a lot that didn’t quite make the cut - sorry Superchick!)What else almost made the cut for the list?
SO MUCH! Just a few others - there’s no Mogwai in the Anthology. No Young Jeezy. No 2 Live Crew. No A$AP Rocky (though he guests on Danny Brown’s “Kush Coma”). No Aimee Mann (that was a heartbreaking cut). No Althea and Donna’s “Uptown Top Ranking.” Nothing from Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Vol. II. No Arvo Part. Nothing from Beyonce’s Lemonade! NO SOLO JACK WHITE. No Blonde Redhead. No Broken Social Scene. No Camel. No Collective Soul. No Culture Club, or Crazy Town. No Danielson Famile. No Death Cab For Cutie. Run The Jewels, but no solo El-P or Killer Mike. No Everclear. No “Rock Me Amadeus.” NO FATBOY SLIM. Nothing from Fiddler On The Roof or Into The Woods. No “Good Riddance.” No Happy Mondays. No James Brown live at the Apollo. No Jamiroquai. No Jerry Goldsmith. No Joni Mitchell post-Blue. No Kali Uchis. No Kid606. No Linda Ronstadt. No Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together.” Nothing with both Method Man & Redman. No Michael Giacchino! No solo Morrissey. NO NATALIE IMBRUGLIA. No New Kids On The Block. No Fugees (but there is solo Wyclef and Lauryn.) Nothing from Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile. Nothing from Brick Body Kids Still Daydream. No solo Panda Bear. No Portugal, The Man. No “Cygnus X-1.” No Silversun Pickups. No Reba McEntire. No Tennessee Ernie Ford. Nothing from The Who Sell Out. No Vanessa Williams.
If you scan the Anthology and it seems comprehensive, like there could be nothing missing, then the sleight-of-hand has worked. The next 3000 songs would comprise their own incredible list.Wait, are you telling me Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” is NOT in your top 3000 songs? Bullshit! How could you not include this obvious masterwork?
If you’re frustrated I left out a favorite song of yours, or you think a certain song is such an obvious pick for the list it must have been left off by error, tell me! Tweet @RAMAnthology or email richmondanthology @gmail.com. I might think you’re way off base (feel free to make your pitch for Falco), but I might realize I indeed erred, and add your pick to the next edition.Are Michael Jackson and R. Kelly in the Anthology?
Yes, but it wasn’t an easy call.
The sad, inescapable truth about pop music is the predatory likes of Michael Jackson and R. Kelly aren’t exceptions. Jimmy Page dated a 14 year old. John Lennon beat his wife. Dr. Dre violently assaulted a female journalist. Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13 year old cousin. Feel free to research Bobby Brown, Swans, The Mamas And The Papas, Mayhem, Ryan Adams, or Jackie Wilson if these examples aren’t enough, and we’re just scratching the surface. There’s no way to excise bad people from music history without making the story illegible.
Jackson and Kelly only stand out because the totality of their horrific actions have entered the popular consciousness quite recently; their crimes aren’t fresh, but our reckoning with those crimes is. It’s frankly hard to listen to their music now - hitting an R. Kelly song on shuffle is distracting, in a way I think detracts somewhat from the Anthology experience.
Nonetheless, among other things, the Anthology is meant to be a history, and a history without these figures makes no sense. Jackson, in particular, released the best selling album of all time, and based on music industry trends, it’s likely that record will stand forever. He’s an era-defining superstar, and this list would make no sense without his music. But by all means, skip his tracks when they come up.
(The one artist I left out of the Anthology specifically because of the awful things he did is XXXTentacion. I’m not sure about this choice either - he was an important and influential figure in the development of rap this decade, and maybe in ten years I will reevaluate and decide he can't be left out. But his crimes were too recent, and the details too stomach-turning, to bear at this writing.)Are all the songs in the Anthology available on Spotify?
NO, THEY ARE NOT :( :( :( :( :(
I suppose I should be grateful - as noted above, the opportunity to put 95% of this list in a single, easy-to-listen spot is new and miraculous. It would be impossible to fully execute this project legally in a pre-Spotify era. But as we all begin to rely on these streaming services, the music that isn’t available to stream becomes more and more inconvenient to find, and slips out of public consciousness. The problem isn’t limited to music - think about films and TV shows that have been released on DVD, but aren’t on Netflix, Amazon or Apple. How many people still have DVD players? Soon, these films won’t exist in any practical way for most people; same goes for the music that hasn’t migrated to Spotify or Apple. It’s tragic.
The problem only deepens, because a song’s availability on Spotify is always temporary, and can be revoked at any time. Some songs that were on Spotify when I started compiling my final list to publish just two months ago are no longer there. Consumers no longer own music - labels do. They make songs available to stream, and they can make them unavailable any time they decide they want to push for better rates (or maybe just because Taylor Swift made Scooter Braun mad again). Spotify playlists are sandcastles, that I have to repair and update whenever the tides change.
Right now, 79 of 3010 songs in the 1st Edition are not on Spotify. Many of these songs are fairly obscure, but they’re the spices that give the list much of its flavor. Some of them were never officially released in any capacity (a live Grateful Dead bootleg, for example). But some are huge omissions! Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind.” Trout Mask Replica. Link Wray’s “Rumble.” The Chronic (Dre I know you’re an Apple ambassador, but come onnnn). No New York. Garth Brooks! No Garth Brooks at all on Spotify.
You can find the full list of songs not available on Spotify by copying the Google sheet, then sorting by the “Not On Spotify” column. I’ve also made a YouTube playlist with as many of these tracks as possible. I will update this section if other legal routes to find these songs before available. But I encourage you all to seek them out yourselves!OK, now I’m looking at this gigantic Google sheet. Help me out here, what do all these columns mean?
Until we get an omission-free universal streaming service, the spreadsheet version of the Anthology is the definitive one. If you want to try to replicate the list on Apple Music or in your own library, that’s the template. It is a bit overwhelming, so let’s walk through each of the metadata columns!
Artist - Self explanatory!
Title - You know this one too. Sometimes include parenthetical information with extra credits or a specified version, if especially relevant to the song.
Track ID # - Each track has a unique ID number. They’re sorted in order by chapter ID, then chapter track ID (the Spotify playlist is sorted by the same way).
Album - If this song originally appeared on an extended or long playing release, that title is listed here. This column is super incomplete! Some entries have a blank album field because they were released as a single or other non-album release, but others are blank when they shouldn’t be, and need to be filled in for the 2nd Edition.
Year - This refers, in most cases, to the year a track was released officially. In some cases, it may refer to the year a song was written, if the release year is significantly later. In even rarer cases, it may refer to the year a song became popular - OMI’s “Cheerleader” was first released in 2012 but hit big in 2015, it's listed as a 2015 song. All this to say, it’s a fuzzy category, but this column will pretty reliably point to the year a song broke out.
Recording Year - Usually empty, but when there’s a big discrepancy between the year a song was written and the year a song was recorded or released, this field contains the recording year. Most commonly used for cover songs or classical pieces.
Associated Artists - Musicians associated with this recording that are not the listed artist. Another super incomplete category that will be filled in further in future editions, but especially helpful for classical compositions, etc, where the performers and composer diverge.
Genre - The crown jewel of my metadata system! Important enough I’ll give it a separate explainer below.
The next five categories are highly subjective Yes/No fields, where I attempt to sort the Anthology by key holistic criteria. An X means “Yes,” a blank field is “No.”
All-Ages - Is the song appropriate for young listeners, say under the age of 12? This filters out anything with swearing, overt sexuality or violence, and very loud or dissonant music - most of the rap and metal, for instance.
Party - Is this song appropriate to play at a party? This applies to upbeat pop, rock and hip-hop, plus disco, techno, a few energetic throwbacks (Little Richard’s still got it), and a couple irresistible sing-along ballads (“Don’t Stop Believin’” kills every time.) Try these songs in your next iPhone DJ set!
Friendly - Is this song appropriate to play in mixed company? Think: in your office, on a road trip, at your in-laws’ house. Yes, the Super Mario Bros 2 theme is technically appropriate for all ages, but your co-workers might look at you funny if it comes up on shuffle. This sorts out any particularly weird or distracting picks.
Instrumental - Is this song an instrumental or vocal-free piece? The most straightforward category, though some tracks that use vocal samples fall into a gray area.
Fringe - Is this song highly experimental or difficult? Kind of the inverse of the Friendly category (though not the exact inverse), Fringe sorts for early computer experiments, free jazz, extended tuneless screeching, Laotian khene, abstract aleatoric minimalism, and power noise - stuff that, however musically important I find it, I recognize is not for everyone. But you’ll never know until you give it a spin!
Popularity Level - Another highly subjective category. Unlike the last five, this is not Yes/No but a 1-4 scale answering the question “How popular is this song?” 4 is so popular even your grandma knows it, 3 is a decent-sized hit, 2 is a very minor hit or an indie release that found cult success, and 1 is a true obscurity.
6m+ - Is this song greater than six minutes long? A helpful way to filter out (or select for) long songs. (A full-on “Song Length” category is more complicated than you’d think; it’s on the roadmap.)
10m+ - Is this song greater than ten minutes long? A helpful way to filter out (or select for) very long songs.
Other Notes - Blank for most songs, but some tracks exist in multiple versions, are known by an alternate title, or require other unique metadata to specify exactly which recording we’re talking about. Without this info, you might find the version of Burl Ives’ “Blue Tail Fly” without the charming Abraham Lincoln anecdote at the top, and that would be a shame!
A future goal for the Anthology is developing a smart search system that will allow you to easily filter the master list any way you like, by any of these criteria. But that’s a ways out!
Sorting Year - Mostly here for annoying technical reasons. For tracks with separate year and recording year data, this field shows what year I’m defaulting to for sorting purposes.
Not On Spotify? - Is this track unavailable on Spotify? Look here to find the songs not listed in the Spotify master list at a glance.
C ID # - The chapter number.
C Track # - The track number within each chapter.
C Title - The chapter title.
C Description - The short chapter description. The longer chapter notes aren’t in the sheet, and are currently only available on this site.
It’s that simple! Now, are you ready to learn about my genre system?Oh boy. Lay it on me.
The genres listed in official music metadata are a notorious mess - if you have an mp3 library, you know it’s loaded with weird useless genres that can’t be sorted in any meaningful way, from “USA HipHop” to “127” to “Black Noise.” So I started from scratch. Genre in the Richmond Anthology is an additive system, using 26 unique genre descriptors:
Blues, Big-Band, Children's, Classical, Comedy, Country, Dance, Disco, Electronic, Experimental, Folk, Funk, Hip-Hop, Indie, Jazz, Metal, Pop, Punk, R&B, Reggae, Religious, Rock, Score, Showtune, Vocal, World
Each song can be categorized as one of these 26 genres, or any combination of these genre tags. Pop Hip-Hop, Children’s Classical, Reggae Jazz Punk and Experimental Disco Score are all possible genres in the Anthology. (I’ve stuck to 3 max tags per song in the 1st Edition, but it’s not a hard and fast rule.)
In the Google Sheet, there’s a filter view on the Genre column by default. You can go into the filter search settings to display only songs that contain one of these genre tags, or a specific combination of tags. If you’d like to look up the Anthology’s reggae section at a glance, now you can.26, that’s it? That seems so limiting. Rock is such a broad category - what if you want to filter for hard rock, or prog rock, or post punk?
Search for Metal Rock, Experimental Rock, and Indie Punk Rock, respectively. It’s not perfect, but you can get very close to most major genres using just these 26 tags.What about ragtime, or Christmas music, or polka?
Subsections of Jazz, Religious, and World. Mildly janky, but pretty close!Why is Bad Brains’ “Pay To Cum” Punk, but Green Day’s “Basket Case” is Punk Rock?
One is a rock song with punk energy, and one is very purely punk. Another way to think about it - if I made a sub-playlist with all Rock-labeled songs, those songs should all have a coherent shared Rock feeling. Most hardcore punk is too extreme for that list - it’s very much its own thing. Does that make sense?Sense-ish.
Genre taxonomy is very much an art, not a science, but it’s a particularly useful tool for dissecting the different components of the Anthology.Sure. You’ve gotta set an upper limit on genres somewhere...but 26? For a list representing the entire history of music? And Disco, Funk and Dance all need to be separate categories? WTF is “Vocal”? Why is there a hyphen in Big-Band? Experimental is it’s own genre? That’s such a copout.
Please, class, one question at a time!
Disco and Dance used to be one category, but it just felt wrong to label “Disco Inferno” as Dance, when that genre is so clear and specific. Disco is distinct from most dance music, a rhythmic full-band style that’s closer to R&B than techno. Funk is something else entirely, related to disco and R&B but more versatile. Funk pairs well with other genres as a descriptive term, like Funk Rock or Jazz Funk. So all three terms get a slot here.
Vocal is short for “vocal pop,” which technically covers 99% of pop even now, but usually gets applied to singers of the 40s-60s; think crooners like Dean Martin, or pop vocalists like Doris Day and Jo Stafford. I also sometimes use it to cover genres that are normally instrumental when they include sung parts, like Vocal Jazz. It’s admittedly a bit of a workaround to fit all sung music before rock & roll into a single category. Modern standards singers like Michael Buble are also Vocal.
The hyphens in Big-Band and Hip-Hop are to make every genre one word for easy searching.
And I agree, Experimental is kind of a copout term. I think almost all the musicians I’ve tagged as Experimental would be furious if I told them that was the genre I chose for them. But some artists deliberately resist genre, working so far outside of the mainstream that there are no words to properly categorize what they do. Acts as different as John Cage, Death Grips, Scott Walker, and The Shaggs need one umbrella term, because they could never be slotted as any other term. Experimental comes closest.These genre proportions are way off - for one thing you have too much Rock and not enough Hip-Hop!
Rock is definitely represented heavily in the Anthology; it’s close to 30% of the list. What can I say, rock had a really big few decades there! Hip-Hop is only the fourth-most common tag, but it also wasn’t invented until the late 70s, almost halfway through the Anthology. It’s been dominating in the 10s, though, and by 2030 I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s up to second or nearly tied for first.And World...first of all, I thought “world music” was a passé term...but more importantly, you really found the best music from every major region in the world? How is that even possible?
International, non-English-language music writ large is, without a doubt, the music I know least well, and the section of the Anthology I feel most self-conscious about. It’s also the section I spent the most time working to get right by far.
Before I get into that, though, “world music” is definitely not an ideal term. It flattens thousands of radically different conceptions of music into a single massive non-genre that basically means “stuff most Americans don’t listen to.” It also has strong associations with faux-world genres (like exotica and some strains of new age) dominated by anonymous American producers working in content factories, bearing very little resemblance to actual music of the world.
Ideally I wouldn’t be using a blanket term that includes reggaeton, bossa nova, higlife, dabke and K-pop - but I’m already merging many genres for the sake of simplicity, and it felt necessary to create a single tag that applies to all of these songs, because they were selected through a process distinct from the other songs in the Anthology.
In short, I had to familiarize myself with the most popular music from every country in the world. I divided all the countries into 14 world regions, and started researching obsessively, country by country and region by region, not dissimilar from my year-by-year lists. What are the major genres of Mozambique? Who are the biggest stars in Singapore? What’s the best-selling album in Albania? I had no frame of reference for any of these countries, so I threw everything I found into a massive Spotify list, trying to include both indigenous folk styles and modern pop.
Then, I listened to a whole lot of stuff! For every ten World songs that made it into the Anthology, I listened to 200-300 songs like them, picked my 100 favorites, listened to those, narrowed them down to 40, listened again, and narrowed again. It took an entire year to finalize my world section, but even this extensive process is lamentably limited.
I cannot claim the international songs I selected are the best possible songs from their countries or regions, only that they’re the best of a large but scattershot sampling. I found unbelievable music this way, some of the richest stuff in the whole Anthology. And I strove to balance my selections by region, so nearly every part of the world gets at least a couple songs to represent it. But I know I missed a lot, and I suspect locals actually immersed in these scenes would find many of my picks strange. I imagine some like-minded music geek in Lebanon throwing “Baby Got Back” and Staind’s “It’s Been A While” onto a playlist and saying “OK, checking off the USA, on to Mexico…”
It’s a different kind of experience than the rest of the Anthology for sure, but the list would feel incomplete and overly Anglo-centric without these songs. I'm glad I can offer at least this sampler platter from the vast expanse of international music, and tempt you to continue exploring on your own. And if you have recommendations for my World section in particular, I encourage you to tell me! richmondanthology @ gmail.com.Dang. I appreciate you writing over 7000 words so far explaining all this to me; I know sometimes my tone can be overly skeptical and combative, but it’s an impressive effort.
Please! If I wasn’t explaining this to you, I’d be explaining it loudly at length to steadily less patient friends, coworkers and random passerby. Thank you for giving me an outlet to get so granular about process.And you just kept writing, huh? How did the chapters come together?
Hoo boy. The chapters were a late-stage brainstorm that ended up taking so much more time to put together than expected, but it was absolutely worth it; I believe it will improve most people’s experience of the Anthology immeasurably.
At first, the Anthology was only going to be presented as an alphabetical, undifferentiated list. But a 3010 entry spreadsheet is hard to digest. It would be impossible to get a sense of how these songs are connected to each other, and build off each other, just by scanning rows of data. One of the most exciting things about music is the narrative of how it's evolved! And the giant grid approach was obfuscating that narrative instead of highlighting it.
Chapters are a tool to conjure that narrative, allowing users to read the Anthology like a book by dividing it into bite-sized, manageable pieces. You can’t listen to 3010 songs in one sitting, but an organized, serialized experience is the next best thing. I split those 3010 songs into 301 ordered ten song playlists, organized by era, genre and/or scene, that starts at the beginning of music, rapidly progresses to the 20th century before plowing through it decade by decade, and ends in 2019. Think of it as 301 perfect mixtapes from yours truly.
Chapters are also social media friendly! After chaptering, I was able to set up a Twitter, @RAMAnthology, that works like a page-a-day calendar, posting one chapter a day for 301 straight days. Follow that account, and over the course of nearly a year, you’ll have the chance to listen to the entire history of music through your feed. It’s the Richmond Anthology Challenge! Are social media challenges still cool?Sure, but that doesn’t mean this one will be.
Fair enough. Don’t worry about being cool, but do treat yourself by participating in this grand musical experiment. And appended to every Chapter playlist and every tweet are a few sentences of commentary from your trusty curator---Right, about that. You wrote close to 100 words each about 301 playlists. That’s---
--the length of a short novel? Yup.
Dividing the Anthology into ten-song playlists didn’t take all that long, but writing a paragraph about each of them...in retrospect, I didn’t quite know what I was getting into. But it was fun to scratch that music writing itch again. Could you guess that for a long time, I wanted to be a professional music critic?You don’t say.
I’m rusty, and slow at this, but I think I dropped a few insightful points and decent bon mots.Some of the prose is a little sweaty.
OK, well---And you make some very confident, not fully thought out critical assertions. And you use too many adjectives.
Here’s the thing. The Anthology itself...that’s the work, that’s the thing I’m really proud of, that’s what I put a lot of ambition and polish into. The Chapter notes are first-thought-best-thought, almost stream of consciousness, if not first drafts than second drafts. I didn’t intend to write a book, I just wanted to share some observations on music, and make the case for why I love these songs and why you should too. The Chapters needed an authorial presence to keep listeners company, an affable tour guide on your Anthology journey. I think I filled that role well, and I have to tell myself that, because if I start overthinking everything I wrote, I’ll get into obsessive rewrites and never put the thing out. Treat the commentary (and features like this FAQ) as a bonus, and don’t take any of it too seriously.So the description of Chapter 108 says “German progressive rock,” but it includes Goblin’s theme from the movie Suspiria, and Goblin is an Italian band. How can you stand by this glaring inaccuracy?
On the whole, I’d say I did a solid job dividing this very large list of songs into clean groups of 10. But sometimes I would find myself with nine songs in a genre, or eleven, or an oddball that didn’t seem to fit anywhere else. I ended up throwing the Italo-prog straggler in with the Krautrock because that’s the group it’s most similar to.
Don’t expect any of the chapter descriptions to be perfectly accurate - more chapters have at least one odd-song-out than not. I care more that the ten songs in each chapter play nicely together to establish a vibe.I know you said not to take the chapter notes too seriously, but I found a chapter where you said something blatantly, factually wrong.
Email or tweet me and tell me! I’m not an expert, musicologist or critic - just an amateur hobbyist with very good but not perfect opinions. The next edition can get better and more factually accurate with your help.
Since this is the internet, though, I’ll offer one caveat. The act of publishing this work invites critique and commentary, without question, but many people (especially online) believe that being open to critique means agreeing to every suggestion. I’ll listen to any note, but keep in mind I’m still the sole author of this document. I won’t say yes to everything. This ain’t a democracy - it’s a benevolent dictatorship!I found another chapter where you said something racist/sexist/homophobic/insensitive to another culture.
This is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night. Writing about popular music, by nature, involves dissecting scenes, cultures and groups I’ve never been a part of. Talking about that culture in a way that’s fair and doesn't perpetuate stereotypes was top of mind throughout my writing process. And still, I know that somewhere along the way, I probably got something wrong. I’m a thirty-something straight white male who comes into this project with a lot of privilege, and I’m not immune from saying idiotic things or putting my foot in my mouth.
If I fucked up on any of these counts, please call me out! This thing is a living document, and future editions will improve because you spoke up.I just dropped in on Chapter 86, and...wow. What is a “challenge room”?
Some chapters in the Anthology are, straight up, not an easy listen. If you aren’t very familiar with free jazz, for example, you might find listening to more than 30 seconds unpleasant, and a 75 minute set will seem very intimidating. You have no free jazz tolerance - but just like alcohol or exercise, this is a tolerance you can build up. By the time you’ve made it through Chapter 86, you’ll start to hear new patterns, the methods behind the improvisatory madness. Challenging music can increase your appreciation for all music, and that’s why it’s worth making your way through these “challenge rooms.”
Of course, you’re under no obligation, and sometimes you’re just not in the mood for a challenge. In that case, when you see the words “challenge room” in the chapter notes, think of it as a warning or disclaimer, and feel free to skip ahead. Then try not to think about what unearthly delights might lay behind those foreboding doors…
We’re nearly 10000 words into this explainer alone, so I should probably start wrapping this up---Wait! I still have a couple more questions!
...All right. I can’t say no to you. But make them quick.What artists get a full set of five songs in the Anthology?
Just 26 - it’s an exclusive club! There are some artists with additional representation if you could alternate names and projects (Beyonce has four solo tracks and two with Destiny’s Child, for instance), but here are the artists with five picks under a single name:
Early Beatles set and then refined the template for pop rock; their singles through Rubber Soul are all excellent, and in fact very similar in quality. “Hard Day’s Night” has that famous first chord and is one of their career-defining hits; “From Me To You” is simply a personal favorite. But I could choose any early singles for these slots and not really go wrong.
From there, the selection became more treacherous. I wanted two McCartney songs and two Lennon songs (sorry George and Ringo, space is limited, and I want to show multiple sides of these Hall Of Fame songwriters.) Adding Lennon’s psychedelic masterwork “Strawberry Fields” meant I couldn't also pick from the album released the same year, Sgt. Peppers, but it had to be done. “Hey Jude” is the biggest, boldest showcase for the craftsmanship and melodic ease of McCartney.
I only have six tracks total to show the Beatles’ monumental range. For a bit of their melancholy side, I added Paul’s cutting character study “Eleanor Rigby,” which also features a signature string contribution from George Martin. Finally, because the Beatles were a monster hard rock band when they wanted to be, I included “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” featuring John making full use of his scream and going insane with a white noise generator.Is there a reason every David Bowie song you picked is an album title track?
This was a complete coincidence. “‘Heroes’” and “Space Oddity” were easy picks, and “Let’s Dance” was the intuitive choice to represent 80s Bowie. “Station To Station” just barely beat “Blackstar” (another title track) as my extended haunted weirdo Bowie marathon. “Ziggy Stardust” was the toughest call, from an album where every song is iconic - it ultimately feels like the best encapsulation of that record, and was my narrow choice over “Five Years.” Only after I settled on my picks did I realize all these songs share a name with the albums they appear on. Bowie consistently nails his title tracks!How about your picks from grunge’s Big 4 bands?
I really intended to give 3 songs each to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, and represent the grunge heavyweights equally. Alas, “No Excuses” was a late cut from the Anthology - it’s a fine song, but I realized I was keeping it in over better selections due to my desire for symmetry, and I couldn’t justify it. “Man In The Box” and “Would?” still capture the cocky and spooky sides of Alice.
The other bands get three songs each. “Rusty Cage” is Soundgarden at full muscular power, “Burden In My Hand” is singable radio-ready Soundgarden, and “Head Down” has the band exploring gooey introspective rabbit holes. I definitely focus on (and prefer) early PJ, and maybe including both “Jeremy” and “Yellow Ledbetter” over anything from Yield or Vs. is lopsided. But “Jeremy” is a major cultural peak for grunge, “Ledbetter” has those fluid Mike McCready leads I love, and “Corduroy” is just a rip-roaring single.
Nirvana is the definitive grunge band, but stands somewhat apart from the other three bands in the Big 4, with Kurt Cobain finding more kinship with indie heroes like Black Francis and Daniel Johnston than the classic rock gods that inspired Pearl Jam. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was the catalyst for Nirvana’s world takeover, and “Scentless Apprentice” is the type of snarling, antagonistic rocker they arguably loved most. But my favorite Nirvana might be quiet, reflective Nirvana - “The Man Who Sold The World” is a fine example of it, and a way to sneak more Bowie into the list (and another Bowie title track to boot!).What about thrash metal’s Big 4?
I didn’t even try to equally represent Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer, but I did want to give each of them at least one song. “Caught In A Mosh” is one of the few great metal songs about metal itself, a worthy bruiser for Anthrax. “Hangar 18” is Megadeth at their best - and “Peace Sells” is iconic, if only for that Dave Mustaine delivery that’s so fun to imitate. Slayer gets a trio of songs - “Angel Of Death” from what I’d call the definitive thrash album, “South of Heaven” showing off their destructive power even at slower tempos, and “Disciple” an exceptional late-era exercise in raw aggression.
Metallica transcended thrash to become one of the biggest rock bands in the world; no less than the full complement of five songs will do for them. Three are from their peak era in the 80s: “Master Of Puppets” demonstrates a bit of everything they do well, “For Whom The Bell Tolls” is a more deliberate stomper, and “One” builds from acoustic balladry to an unforgettable ending. “Enter Sandman” marks their reinvention as rock superstars, and “Spit Out The Bone” is a late return to thrash form, showing what they’re capable of when barreling at full speed.What’s the shortest track in the Anthology?
“Brand New Set Of Teeth” by The Locust, which packs enough aggression into 37 seconds for a song 5x longer. The second-shortest is not really a song but a playground chant - Laurie Berkner’s 1:01 version of “Down Down Baby.”What about the longest track?
Of course it’s from prog rock masters Yes, with the 18:41 “Close To The Edge.” Edged out by just 2 seconds is “A Rainbow In Curved Air” by Terry Riley, which is almost unfairly competing with a four movement song suite. Riley takes the crown for longest single movement piece.What’s your favorite song in the Anthology?
Come on. Don’t make me choose. This isn’t a ranked list for a reason. Every single song here is elevated by context, by its place in an enormous tapestry, by the music it responded to and the music it influenced. I have no favorites or least favorites, all 3010 songs are my beautiful children.
That said, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”Do you have a favorite chapter? What’s a good one to start with?
Oh man, another impossible choice. Chapter 32 is a true mood. 68 is up there for me, when I’m in the right headspace. 77 is beautiful madness. 135 should not work but really does. 190 is a jam, 198 an excellent nostalgia trip. 214 is close to my heart. 243’s a tearjerker set. 264 will get you moving. 285 is endlessly replayable. But if I had to pick just one...209 is as good as it gets.
Just don’t start with 199. And maybe don’t listen to it at all. I’m serious.I’m sick of words. Show me some pictures!
OK, fine! Here’s just a handful for the more visually inclined user. (The spreadsheet is quite data rich, and I’m sure there are even more interesting graphs that could be produced from the dataset. Math whizzes are encouraged to share their findings by emailing richmondanthology @ gmail.com.)
I love this graph - it’s a good approximation of what the chaptered version of the list is 'shaped like':
This just looks like a line.
OK, that’s not so illuminating: a quick burst of activity followed by a long straight line. Let’s zoom in to show only y-values greater than 1899:
You can see there’s still a fair amount of zig-zagging and jumping up and down, but on average we’re following a firm, steady line through the years, until hitting a hard wall at 2019. The left end of the list is very volatile, accelerating quickly through the first half of the 20th century until settling into a groove.
You asked about the genre breakdown earlier; let’s put the 26 genre tags into a pie chart!
The pie looks pretty, but is mildly misleading; the tags are additive, so while Rock captures about one sixth of the pie, it actually appears on over 3 of every 10 songs. Let’s see this in bar form:
It’s even clearer here how dominant rock and pop are, but the other major genres are fairly well represented. 110 Punk songs is a nice chunk of the set! And you do not need more than 18 Children’s songs, I promise.I believe you.
What happens when we look not at single tags, but specific combinations of tags? Here are the most popular ones; as you can imagine, there’s a very long tail of fun combos below the top 20:
Rock combines well with almost every other tag, while Hip-Hop and Country are more likely to appear as unmixed genres. Electronic and Dance go very well together, as all you glowstick-waving EDM-heads can attest.I’ve never waved a glowstick in my life. I much prefer IDM to EDM.
You would demand a genre with “intellectual” built into the name.Touché.
You already know that each decade has exactly 430 songs, but it’s still cool to see the year-by-year breakdown of the Anthology, here zoomed in to 1940 onward:
This nicely illustrates the effect of halving representation for the 40s and 50s, then halving the 40s again. It also clarifies why 1967 is the most represented year in the Anthology, beyond being a legendary pivot point in music history. I leaned towards selecting fewer songs from the early 60s, to make the pacing change from the 50s to the 60s smoother - and since all decades are equalized, this makes the late 60s spike compared to the rest of the list. (This is also an excellent excuse to sneak in more nuggets from the late 60s’ psychedelic treasure trove.)
Musicians of the 70s, meanwhile, were particularly inspired at the beginning and end of the decade; less so in the middle. After the 60s, 1974 is my least represented year with only 29 songs.
Let’s count up some of my invented criteria tags:
If you put the full list on shuffle, you’ll hear an instrumental track of some kind about once every ten songs. A little less often, you’ll get something truly strange. And you can pull about 1000 songs out of this list for a sick party playlist!
This is more or less a Bell curve smushed into 4 quanta. On shuffle, you’ll get really popular songs and really obscure songs a little less often than kinda popular or kinds obscure songs.Why wouldn’t you prioritize really popular songs? Shouldn’t the ultimate playlist contain a higher percentage of the most loved and best known hits?
Only if your idea of the best possible playlist is like: “Happy Birthday,” “Smooth” by Santana and Rob Thomas, “The Star Spangled Banner,” “The Twist,” “My Heart Will Go On”... Believe me, you want songs like these to come up sometimes, but too many really popular songs in a row sounds uncanny and ersatz, an alien’s idea of humanity’s favorite music.Point taken.
Let’s look at just one more graph. This features data not actually included in the sheet yet!
Spotify track metadata is somewhat confusing and hard to parse (and not all Anthology songs are on Spotify), so I’m not including it in the 1st Edition. But Spotify criteria like “Danceability,” “Acousticness” and “Valence” are really interesting, if suspiciously off in some cases, and other data points like BPM could be really useful to include. Here’s the BPM distribution for all songs where that Spotify data was available:
Songs with BPM less than 67 or greater that 176 are placed into the highest and lowest buckets on this chart. The distribution looks potentially worth investigating or fine-tuning, another light Bell curve peaking around the comfortable BPM of 116. But I’m not confident yet that this data is accurate or robust enough to be very enlightening. More to come on this front in the 2nd Edition.What other changes are you considering for the next edition? When is it coming out?
I’ve got a lot of ideas for the next edition! First of all, at some point I will probably publish the whole thing as an E-book. I didn’t expect to write 45000 words about the Anthology, but now that I have, it wouldn’t take much to reformat it into a proper book, for those who prefer a linear read and/or owned digital object. Maybe I’ll even print a short run.
My dream, which is probably years down the line, is to turn the Anthology into an app. Picture an advanced search function, where you can generate an Anthology sub-playlist using any criteria you can imagine. Party songs from 90s metal bands? Unpopular country songs from even numbered chapters? 70s reggae songs longer than 10 minutes? This app would let you instantly create any playlist for any occasion, plus display song facts or chapter notes right on the play screen. An ideal version would contain a dedicated server with every Anthology song, even the ones not on Spotify…
To reach this goal, though, I’ll have to either hire a coder or learn to code. I used to do a little coding in my youth, though it’s been decades; it might be an enjoyable task to re-educate myself. But it’s going to take some time to get good enough to make a quality app. (Are you a coder looking for a fun side project, who’s willing to work for relatively little money (though not nothing) to make this dream come true? Email richmondanthology @ gmail.com!) And even if the dedicated server version never becomes widely available due to rights issues, I’d kind of like to create one just for myself. I'd build a jukebox facade for the server in my living room, install a kickin’ soundsystem, and bask in my own dumb list whenever the mood strikes.
What else? I could break the chapter notes down into song by song reviews, though that would require much, much more writing. Not happening anytime soon. I’ll probably make an Apple Music edition. I’m of course going to take a hard look at the list every few years, remove songs I no longer think are working and replace them with songs i regret leaving out. Your suggestions will be invaluable there.
I may also expand the number of entries I’m allowing per decade, which will make it easier to build out some of the genres I frankly skimped on. (I’ve even considered a triple length version that greatly expands the number of songs I’m allowing, including lifting the five-songs-per-artist restriction. I worry about maintaining the current level of quality with that approach, though.)
I will include more metadata, including a proper song length field and at least some Spotify data. I might make one of the metadata fields user-generated; that is to say, anyone could enter text on any song, like a comments section for each entry. I know comments sections can spin out of control, though, so I’d have to ensure I can maintain decent moderation.
I would LOVE to have a cover art section, with appropriate art for each entry contained in the Anthology sheet itself. That will be a satisfying research project. I have even considered creating or commissioning original cover art for every chapter playlist - if you’re an enterprising graphic designer, let’s talk.
Finally, I have certainly considered making a podcast based on the Anthology. I’ve experimented with it once before, trying out a song by song playlist-style show for just the 60s section. But now that I’ve broken the list into chapters, a more natural format presents itself. 301 episodes, each covering 10 songs from music history? Could be a pretty fun listen.
Now, as long as I produce and edit other people's podcasts for a living, it’s going to be hard to be enthusiastic about producing another one for myself. For now, podcasts are a job, not a hobby, and I’d prefer to keep those two worlds separate. Never say never, though...who knows what the future holds?
As for when a Second Edition will be out featuring some of these updates...¯\_(ツ)_/¯? I am absolutely not prepared to commit to any timeframe right now. Certainly, you’re unlikely to see a real update in time for 2021. I spent 2019 working nonstop on this thing, I’m taking 2020 off to focus on my health and sanity. I may wait until as late as 2030, so I can tackle the 20s at once. Basically, expect it sometime after The Winds Of Winter is out.
I’ll promise only this much. Over at @RAMAnthology on Twitter, I’m tweeting out one chapter a day for 301 days. Chapter 301 will arrive sometime in December...at which point I’ll reveal my 43 early selections from 2020, SUBJECT TO CHANGE and extremely tentative and temporary, but you’ll get to see where my head is at for the new yearbook. Just one more reason to subscribe to @RAMAnthology!Has anyone told you that @RAMAnthology stands for the Richmond Anthology Of Music Anthology?
Sighhhh...can we bring this FAQ to a close yet?One last question. If I have any more questions, or suggestions, or just want to say you did an awesome job, how do I get in touch?
Richmondanthology @ gmail.com. You can also tweet or DM @RAMAnthology, but I won’t be checking those replies often. I’m more likely to respond by email.
I really do welcome your thoughts or suggestions! Especially if you have favorite songs you want to recommend or make a case for. I only ask that you leave the snark and hate at home. Constructive criticism is one thing, but if you just want to tell me I suck, you can keep it. And if you’re abusive you’ll get blocked and/or reported.I...think I’m out of questions? Wow. Thank you for the comprehensive FAQ. I gotta admit...nice work, buddy. I’m ready to get listening.
Appreciate it, my dude. If I can satisfy my toughest critic (myself, of course), I’m doing something right.