Posts tagged music

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Personal musical history

Through a quirk of OS updating, I wound up with two copies of my entire iTunes library, but only one set actually plays. Which means I’ve been spending a little time every day for the past few weeks chipping away at deleting the useless duplicates. 

The good thing about being a DJ is that you acquire a huge collection that’s somehow never big enough. The bad thing about being a DJ is that you acquire a huge collection that’s unmanageable. Another bad thing more specific to me, is that I’d forgotten whole genres by focusing on blues and jazz. So being forced to look at each and every track in my collection has been a wild trip into nostalgia. 

I still have tracks by The Moody Blues, which was the first band I ever saw live. My family listened to them on cassette tapes in the car. I have the movie and stage cast recordings of My Fair Lady, another cassette joy that is permanently tattooed onto my brain. I’ll be able to sing “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” in a fake Cockney accent on my dying day. I have possibly every album by Yes, because my dad thought I should have them. I have Herb Alpert and Clifford Brown because my brother plays the trumpet. I have Puccini and Lyle Lovett, courtesy of my mother. I have Guster and Ben Folds, which I came to late at, of all places, a classical music camp. I have Hoobastank and The Hippos, because they were my best friend’s favorites in high school.

I have music from every single guy I’ve dated (Go Home Productions, Gorillaz). I have songs I got because I thought they were cool but never got into (Wilco, Sigur Ros). I have music I’m slightly embarrassed about, but only slightly (sugary 60s and 90s pop). I have lots and lots and lots of music I love. 

Of course, this isn’t a phenomenon unique to me. Anyone who’s ever had a favorite band can trace their life history in the same way. That universality is pretty neat. 

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Une Année Sans Lumiere

The Arcade Fire

Une Annee Sans Lumiere - The Arcade Fire

I first heard about them in college (of course). A friend of mine had suggested that I read the excellent webcomic Questionable Content, where the hipster protagonist and his friends frequently shoot the shit about music. The author also gives music recommendations, and in those early days, the list of suggested listening included “Funeral.” I hated it on first listen. Too weird, too busy, too different from the familiar. Except for this song. It was my indie music gateway track. Still love it.

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Wild Wild Horses

Atmosphere

"Wild Wild Horses" - Atmosphere

I’ve been on a hip-hop kick of late, and it’s been doing good things for both my mood and my dancing. The best discovery is an album by Atmosphere called “When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold.” Best title ever. It’s become my new mantra. 

The album’s been in my library for years, but this past week was the first time I’d listened to it in full. Occasionally tracks would pop up when I was listening on random and I’d be intrigued by the sharp, honest storytelling and melodic back beats. But I never settled down to give it a fair listen. I stand by my belief that sometimes you aren’t quite ready to experience a work of art, and it bides its time, waiting for your right moment. For me and this album, that time built up over the past few weeks of feeling down, frustrated, tired. I needed to hear songs about hurt and sadness, songs about struggle and getting by. 

This retro, funky groove is one of my favorite tracks. For starters, horns on the chorus will always give me shivers. But it’s the simple sincerity of that chorus that slays me.

Everything is all I have to give you
But I’m afraid it ain’t enough
You’re not so young that you believe me
Just because I say it’s love

Even if they come to steal you tomorrow
I’ll know my smile was yours
Go ahead and chase your dreams and your freedom
Run run wild wild horses 
You can’t tame these horses 

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We Were Promised Jetpacks - Quiet Little Voices

We Were Promised Jetpacks

Quiet Little Voices - We Were Promised Jetpacks

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Kings and Queens - 30 Seconds to Mars

Sometimes you just need an epic song sung by a distractingly handsome man. Also bikes. You’re welcome.

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Black and White Town

Doves

Doves - Black and White Town

A favorite song of mine that has felt very appropriate for the day. I feel like flying when the piano hits on the first chorus. Happens every time I listen. 

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Afraid Of Everyone

The National

The National - Afraid of Everyone

My first three experiences with The National were with failed dates. One man picked me up in a cafe (never underestimate the power of a short skirt to make guys blind to 10-year age differences) and brought me the album “Boxer” on our sole date. The other two times were at concerts. I accidentally fell in with a rather cute fellow the year they headlined Pitchfork. He and his friends were rabid fans and had staked out a choice spot for the band. That night solidified my theory that any show will be awesome in the right company. I still remember jumping around while he shouted out the lyrics to Mr. November. The third time was at Lollapalooza, sitting on the far side of the park at sunset with a more-than-friend-who-became-just-a-friend. Even from the distance, that stage had great arena rock energy. 

But somehow, I never sought out the band on my own terms until the past month. When I relistened to “Boxer,” I thought to myself “Eh. It’s okay.” But for whatever reason, I kept listening. Over and over. I bought (actually bought!) “High Violet” and am now officially a fan. I’ve been in an uncomfortably introspective place of late and somehow these sad, obtuse songs speak to me in a way they didn’t when I heard them through the filter of another person. This track in particular gives me chills.