Every Song Ever is a brilliant guide to listening to music in this new environment, where concentration must become aware of itself as its criteria shift abruptly from genre to genre, composer to composer, culture to culture. Ratliff proposes a 'language' that will allow such lateral moves between unlike compositions ... Every Song Ever is made possible by the world it describes. Nobody could have drawn these lines before free, or cheap, streaming; and once you’ve read about them in Ratliff’s book, you can listen (a playlist is appended helpfully to every chapter). If you upload the playlist to Spotify and choose the right settings, the playlist will grow while you sleep, as other users add their own fast, slow, repetitive, loud, or silent songs.
In Every Song Ever, Ratliff offers readers and listeners 20 different 'ways to listen' that amount to a dizzying tour through musicology, social science, personal reflections, and descriptive prose. Enjoying the book is less a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with Ratliff’s conclusions, as engaging with his ambitious approach toward music appreciation and coming to one’s own judgments.
In concept, Every Song Ever can’t help but evoke the stereotype of the High Fidelity record-store clerk enamored with the obscure yet conversant in the popular, and prone to over-the-top displays of his expertise. Each chapter comes with a playlist, many of which might seem like parodies of eclecticism ... Yet Ratliff plumbs his mental library not to show off but to show how you, too, can be this omnivorous. He wants to offer all readers a way to appreciate, even love, songs that no right-functioning recommendation engine would ever put in their earbuds.