I rate my songs somewhat... obsessively. I like assigning a number of stars to another artist's work. I enjoy seeing the play count go up and I enjoy watching my computer attempt to find the pattern in my listening - with over 6,800 songs, it's a lot to sift. As you can imagine, getting my entire iTunes metadata wiped out during a data transfer was not necessarily how I wanted things to go.
For those of you not into iTunes, metadata is ratings, play count, etc. It's outside data you've assigned to a file through some manipulation, but that does not actually effect the file (for example, my ratings don't show up on the mixtapes I make for people). Since I've been using iTunes for around 5 years on the same data set, there was a lot of metadata. When I did the (necessary) file transfer, I was aware that the metadata would go away. It seemed like a necessary evil, and I did it cheerfully (that is not a sentence I've written many times).
What I did not expect was my instant reaction: I was a little excited. I realized, as I looked at my library, that all of my own expectations for my music were gone. I no longer knew for sure which songs were great. I could not tell which songs had been on my 25 Most Played. I didn't know what I expected from songs I hadn't bothered to hear in years. There was something liberating about knowing that I could assess anew. There are artists I deleted immediately because I no longer cared about them and didn't have a ridiculous four-star rating making me feel bad. I re-discovered other artists that I somehow never paid attention to. I am now re-building my personal canon.
I'm only a few dozen songs into building my new data set - which will someday be wiped away - but I am relishing the experience of meeting everything with the freshest eyes I can. Of course I can't forget what my favorites are, but I did forget what I loved quietly, and I get to enjoy it for the first time all over again. It may be a small thing, but then again, small joys serve the greatest purpose: they are here to save our lives, and to refresh us and remind us that we are growing beings that will not be the same tomorrow.
Sometimes, it just takes a little clearing of the metadata.