People seem to like lists these days. Music magazines are full of them, though I having a sneaking suspicion that this is largely because they fill up lots of pages cheaply, as they are compiled in-house by staff members so they don’t have to commission an outside writer and illustrated with images from album sleeves so they don’t have to pay a photographer. That aside, this morning on the train I decided to compile a list of the top 50 acts with the most songs on my iPod, in descending order, with the number of songs.
         Naturally The Who occupy top spot, almost 200 songs ahead of the runners-up, The Beatles, though if I were to add solo material from the individual fabs they’d edge a fair bit closer. Then again, if I added solo stuff from individual Who the gap would widen again accordingly.
         There’s a few anomalies. Chris Rea is at number nine because I was sent the 11-CD set Blues Guitars, and a few others are high up in the list because I own box sets. Oddly, the highest black act in the list (and the only jazz act) is Miles Davis, again because I have a box set. The only other black act is Ray Charles but that’s because although there’s loads of soul and r&b on my iPod it tends be relatively few songs, ie less than 30, from any particularly artist. There’s also a dearth of women, largely for the same reason. Eva Cassidy is on there because I needed to get a job lot of her CDs when I was editing a book about her, ditto Kraftwerk, and she’s in good company next to Bonnie Raitt and Emmy Lou, with Gillian Welch edging above them. If I was to create a list of most played in relation to the total number of songs, however, then Gillian would be in the top five, maybe even number one. In many ways Abba count as female artists too, I think, and they’d be higher up the list if I included solo stuff from Agnetha and Frida.
         I don’t think there’s any out-and-out duplications among the now 14,959 songs on the iPod, and by that I mean the same recording of the same song more than once. Of course there’s many different, often live, versions of the same song, especially with The Who which is why they’re at the top.
         Finally, all sorts of different combinations of musicians on many songs make this list fairly arbitrary and probably far from 100% accurate (eg Dylan and The Band are hard to differentiate, Lou Reed doesn’t quite make it but if I was to include him with VU he certainly would, ditto Plant and Led Zep) but it does give a fairly good idea of where my loyalties lie and it’s no coincidence that these are the artists I like writing about on Just Backdated.

1) The Who (692)
2) The Beatles (506)
3) Bruce Springsteen (370, inc 42 with E Street Band & 23 with Sessions Band)
4) R.E.M. (307)
5) Elvis Presley (281)
6) David Bowie (266)
7) The Rolling Stones (224)
8) Richard Thompson (185, inc 39 with Linda T & 6 with Danny Thompson)
9) Chris Rea (171)
10) Paul Simon (164, inc 78 with Simon & Garfunkel)
11) Rod Stewart (145, inc 43 with The Faces)
12) Little Feat (133)
13) U2 (129)
14) Kraftwerk (127)
15) Crowded House (124)
16) Abba (120)
17) Led Zeppelin (119)
18) Bob Dylan (118)
19) Neil Young (110, inc 37 with CSN&Y)
20) The Byrds (108)
21) Eric Clapton (106, inc 54 with Derek & The Dominos)
22) The Everly Brothers (103)
23) Miles Davis (102, inc 42 with Gil Evans)
24) The Kinks (101)
25) The Band (100)
26) Paul McCartney (86)
27) Van Morrison (85, inc 10 with Chieftains)
28) Fleetwood Mac (84)
29) Johnny Cash (81)
30) Free (80)
31) Steely Dan (74)
32) Bee Gees (73)
33=) Pete Townshend & Steve Winwood (72, inc 14 with Ronnie Lane for PT and 22 with Traffic and 32 with Spencer Davis for SW)
35=) Velvet Underground & Nick Drake (71 each)
37) Prince (67)
38) 10,000 Maniacs (65)
39) Morrissey (62)
40) Les Paul & Mary Ford (60)
41) Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (59)
42) Gillian Welch (58)
43) The Ramones (57)
44=) Eva Cassidy & Bonnie Raitt (55 each )
46=) Emmy Lou Harris & The Smiths (49 each)
48=) Manic Street Preachers & Ray Charles (47 each)
50=) George Harrison, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pink Floyd (46 each)

And just in case anyone’s wondering the next few are Buddy Holly (44), Jeff Beck (44), Faces (43) & Cat Stevens (41, inc 12 as Yusuf), followed by scores in the 30s and 20s. 

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