What makes a song or an album timeless? For many, it actually has little to do with the quality or content of the song or album and everything to do with the time in their own life that that song arrived into. For many, the song “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day is a timeless song because it was their senior year graduation song. Or maybe you discovered Dashboard Confessional right after a breakup and played Swiss Army Romance for a year straight. Maybe the first CD you ever bought was a Garth Brooks album and you still have it because it’s incredibly sentimental (not because it’s actually good). The point is, sometimes music is a mirror that perfectly reflects your life – and that makes it timeless for you.
For the last few years I’ve compiled my favorite albums of the year and ranked them. I realized this year that oftentimes, the album I listened to most in a given year may not be on the year-end list because it wasn’t released in that calendar year. Basically, sometimes I discover an old album and it completely steals my ears away from brand new music. Those albums go unnoticed in my year end list. This prompted me to go back and think through the last few years of my life and try to remember what music impacted me that year. What did I spin over and over again? What CD did I leave in my car for weeks/months on end? What lyrics did I memorize and do I still remember today? Some years were really easy to remember and others were difficult, though I managed to trace back to around 1996 when I was 15. Some years I just couldn’t choose only one album, but I tried hard to limit it to one or two albums per year. I’m happy to say that, for the most part, all of these albums are still in my collection and get listened to often (with the exception of the first entry).
Paste Magazine has a column in every issue entitled “Listening to My Life”, and that’s really what this is: a window into my life through the lens of a few CDs. I’m going to give a little review of each album and then talk briefly about why that particular album meant a lot to me in that time of my life. I’m calling it “Life Listens”. Self-indulgent? Sure. But is that not the nature of the medium?
The new series will run Mondays and Friday for the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy it.