I listened to my entire music library and it was a spiritual journey I didn’t ask for.

The As brought the Almosts. The Alones, the Alives and the Afters. The Fs were on Fire and the Hs were sweet like Honey. The Rs were the Runaways, with their winding Roads and Rivers. But I wasn’t prepared for the Ys, and how “Your Name”, “Your Shirt” and “Your Sister’s House” quickly turned into symbols and numbers.

My life is full of music – 71.4GB to be exact. With over 10,000 of them in my repertoire, it seems that I’ve spent a lifetime finding a song for any and every moment. You wouldn’t think I would ever have time to listen to it all, or that I would even want to.

It started with a mistake, really; simply forgetting to press shuffle on a long car ride. After an hour of listening to songs beginning with the letter A, I figured:

Hey, what if I just kept going?

I couldn’t have guessed what would happen in the following few weeks. I looked forward to each letter I woke up to and yearned for what it would bring. I discovered an incredible new way to listen to music I had owned for years. It was like reading your favourite book backwards and unlocking an entirely new plot.

Imagine the near poetic contrast between Kendrick Lamar’s “Hood Politics” and Blue Suede’s “Hooked on a Feeling”. And nothing compares to the two hours’ worth of every artists’ rendition of a “Love Song”. It’s enough to rekindle your relationship with Love itself. The combination of eleven songs named “Intro”, that were meant solely to introduce the rest of their respective albums brought the same feeling as walking down an empty street, just before sunrise. It was like waiting for your parents to wake up on Christmas morning, the anticipation eating at you, but you like it.

It took me a month to get through it all. It became part of my routine, and when it was over, I missed it. I never thought I would want another hundred songs, but when I finally reached Z, I wasn’t ready for it to end.

It says a lot, I think. Rekindling a relationship with thousands of forgotten tunes, each bringing back a memory of exactly where and who I was when I added it to my ever-expanding library. Songs I haven’t listened to in months found their way back to the surface, and even if I didn’t like them as much as I used to, I couldn’t bear to get rid of them.

Like the photos and trinkets we put away and forget about, music is a way to revisit the past without getting too caught up in it. My path through my entire lot let me see things I already knew, but in a new way. I was able to appreciate the songs for what they were then, and now. I could smell the first candle I bought with my own money. I could feel the rain on my skin while I walked through the streets of Edinburgh, yelling for my mom to come under my umbrella. I could tell you all the times and places it took me to, and all the new emotions a seemingly random combination of music brought. But to truly understand this wild, spiritual journey that I most definitely didn’t expect – all I can say is, listen.

This piece was written by Sam Turnbull for Issue XX.

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