I then downloaded and installed a program called Copytrans, available from www.copytrans.net. It's actually a cool little program, and the trial version will allow you to copy 250 files, if that's all you've got. Otherwise, to purchase a licence is somewhere in the range of $20 US dollars. I considered that a modest fee considering the colossal amount of time it saved me.
Just left of the top center of the window, you will find the start backup button, and just to its left, two radio buttons for either smart backup, or manual backup. There are also options for what you want to copy... number of times played, playlists, podcasts, etc. These are all selected by default. Considering the situation I was in (total data loss) I left everything selected and hit the smart backup button, and walked away. A few minutes later, all my music, playlists, podcasts (even one of the subscriptions was already set up) was all neatly filed away in my iTunes folder.