This isn’t really as impressive as it sounds at first, but I think I’ve done something somewhat innovative in my digital life.

I was thinking about how the first track on many albums has or develops a “first track” feel. (This was specifically about “Any Day Now” and “Station Approach” on the Elbow [iTunes Music Store search] albums Asleep in the Back and Leaders of the Free World.) Basically, I was wondering precisely whether “has” or “develops” is the better word.

To facilitate my musico-philosophical ruminations, I made a simple smart playlist called “Openers” in iTunes, with just the following two rules:

  1. Track number = “1”
  2. Album ≠ “”

In my collection, I remove album information from all tracks not associated with a complete album in my possession. (It’s slightly irresponsible, I know, but I very often browse by album, and it just reduces so much clutter.) So, the second rule eliminates all songs that I don’t know in their full lead-off hitting glory.

Thinking that unaffiliated (with an album) tracks might constitute an equally interesting set, I made a second list for them, called, unimaginatively, “Openers 2”:

  1. Track number = “1”
  2. Album = “”

The Openers 2 list turned out to be relatively uninteresting; most of the tracks were “1 of 1” or seemed just to have a “1” by accident, as I know they’re in fact not the openers on their albums.

But, you can find my Openers list on my as yet non-existent website. Fair warning: It’s a wildly self-indulgent nine-page PDF.

Feel free to make your own and post a link in the comments, or if you’ve got no website, just email it to me and I’ll put it up with or without your name—up to you. (Easy way: Select all in the iTunes playlist | Copy | Paste into Excel | Delete irrelevant columns | Print to PDF or just Save.) It’ll be interesting to see a large collection of openers, I think.

Based on my own list, it seems on first glance that openers tend to be well-chosen by production teams. I offer no deeper analysis, though—this post was really more about process…

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