Author's note: I started this months ago and then gave up on it. Was reminded of it last night hanging out at Antony's birthday party. 30 songs that represent the last 30 years.
So a couple of significan things happened over the last couple of weeks. I turned 30. I had a couple of fairly profound experiences with God. And my car was broken into and my laptop was stolen. All of these things have worked together to put me into something of a reflective mood. Not in my typical emo sort of way, but more of a reflective interest in where I'm at and where I've been. When I first found out my laptop was gone I instantly thought about the music that I had lost (not all of my music was on my iPhone) and I wondered which music I would replace once I had the chance. So I thought it might be interesting to choose the 30 songs that I would pick if I could only replace 30 songs. 30 songs that were important to me. 30 songs that I wanted to hang onto.
These aren't in any particular order. I picked them and then randomized them:
"Best Imitation of Myself" by Ben Folds - Very early in discovering music (I had a very sheltered musical experience in high school) I stumbled across Ben Folds. When I graduated from college I moved into my first apartment and ended up about a block away from my first indie record store. I found the Ben Folds Live CD and was almost instantly hooked. This is easily my favorite track of that album.
"Inaction" by We Are Scientists - W.A.S. is still my favorite small club experience. I love how this song balances regret with a song that's clearly having a good time... i don't get it when people don't relate to that feeling.
"On Your Side" by Pete Yorn - I still remember when this album came out feeling like "Whaaaaaaaaaaat?!' but at that point Linkin Park was one of my favorite bands, so it may have just been because my horizons were expanding. Pete Yorn never did anything as good as this album again.
"You're Everything" by David Crowder Band - I honestly didn't like worship music before I heard this song... thought it was all sort of forced. I really appreciate how raw DCB albums were during that era and this song's no exception.
"Goodbye Sky Harbor" by Jimmy Eat World - Jimmy Eat World writes some amazing songs. What's incredibly frustrating is that most of the time they choose not to. G.S.H. has a soaring chorus, killer harmonies, is freakishly emotive and then strips it all down to nothing before building back up in a crazy crescendo. The only song i'll spend 16 uninterrupted minutes on. This is the first album to get me obsessed... to many replays to count
"Lost Cause" by Beck - Sea Change is my favorite Beck album, hands down. It's stripped down, it's melodic, it's emo in the best possible way. I really wish he did more stuff like this. "Lost Cause" also represents that part of me that has always enjoyed the hopelessly hopeful or hopefully hopeless... not sure.
"Float On" by Modest Mouse - In the midst of a 6 month stint in the Arabian Gulf, I discovered Modest Mouse in a record store in Bahrain. This song provided escape and was essentially my first true introduction to indie.
"Hip Hop Saved My Life" by Lupe Fiasco - Maybe my favorite type of hip hop, the kind that crafts an interesting story. There's nothing new here, rapper seeks to make it big, does so, gets self and family into new digs. But there's something about the way that Lupe tells the whole story that makes it interesting. There's a youthful optimism here, he's enjoying himself, and that's an infectious feeling.
"This Modern Love" by Bloc Party - I am an unabashed Bloc Party fan... I will say this. The combination of self deprecation and soaring confindence always gets me. I love how this is, i guess, a sort of love song, but it's also a brutally honest confession of not being able to help yourself in a relationship that probably shouldn't be happening in the first place.
"Jesus Walks" by Kanye West - Up until this point I'd only really heard whatever rap was on the radio and dc Talk (yes, I just admitted that). And then I heard Jesus Walks for the first time and it was over. I love the marching cadence that backs the track, I love how relevant the message is, and I love that, thanks to this song, I got into Jay Z, Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, Q-Tip, Digable Planets, Lupe, Outkast, The Roots, etc...
"Last Goodbye" by Jeff Buckley - Jeff Buckley is a monster... just destroys everything he sings and plays. I was hanging out at a party in Azusa talking music with a friend of my sister's and he was like, "Dude, you should check out Jeff Buckley" and I've never gotten hooked on a singer/track so fast... I think I put this on every mix CD I made for a good two years. Also indirectly my introduction to folk... strange I know.
"Cannonball" by Damien Rice - This represents the phase when I was buying pretty much everything I could find online. I'm kind of convinced that English/Scottish/Irish people are much better at conveying angst than Americans are. I know there are exceptions to this rule, but I think in large part it's true. Cannonball is one of those tracks that makes you feel good about feeling bad... or bad about feeling good. Not sure which. But it's still one of my favorite acoustic songs ever.
"Guernica" by Brand New - This is the song that hooked me on Brand New... a band that doesn't make nearly enough music and makes some really horrible decisions at times (Daisy? anyone?!)... I feel like most of the screamo I hear is getting worked up over nothing, i.e. yeah yeah yeah your girlfriend broke your heart, it's not worth getting "that" worked up over. But screamo about dealing with losing a loved one to cancer, now you've got my attention. Reminds me of the days living in the Mentone house with the guys from PLV.
"Red & Blue Jeans" by the Promise Ring - One of those songs from the year I discovered music (1999) that made me realize that I was way behind the power curve. Maybe one of the most underrated bands ever. It's one of those songs that showed me that you could have an amazing song with only two lines of lyrics... they just have to be very effective lyrics.
"Lightness" by Death Cab for Cutie - Dave Teves introduced me to Death Cab because Dave Teves has amazing taste in music. Another one of those albums that I downloaded prior to leaving for the Arabian gulf. I used to listen to this one on repeat, laying in my bed... total escape from the confinement of the ship.
"All These Things That I've Done" by the Killers - I have this thing for resilience and for defiance and the underdog and rising up. This song kind of represents all of those things.
"Blindsided" by Bon Iver - This is actually the song that got me to really start writing music again. I just appreciated so much his ability to create sparse and potent atmosphere.
"Chocolate" by Snow Patrol - Represents the point when I realized that the navy wasn't going to be a long term thing for me but had no idea where to go from there.
"Check the Rhime" by Tribe Called Quest - The song that started my exploration of all the rap that I'd missed. Tribe can't be beat.
"A Day in the Life" by the Beatles - One of the songs that my dad played for me early and often. I couldn't get over how complex it was. Also made me love vinyl.
"Don't Worry Baby" by the Beach Boys - Tried to figure out the harmonies for hours on hours when I was 10. Recorded myself, couldn't ever get it. Still can't harmonize. Oh well.
"Fake Plastic Trees" by Radiohead - My buddy Dan made a mixtape for me as a graduation present. Had no idea who radiohead were but used to play this song every day after work. Wasn't long before I was stuck on Radiohead.
"First Breath after Coma" by Explosions in the Sky - Introduced to the band while looking through a record store by a clerk who was realllly out of it. Explosions are so cinematic. Reminds me of making Coast Videos with Casey
"The Good Fight" by Dashboard Confessional - I went through a 3 year Dashboard phase. That is all.
"John Wayne Gacy Jr." by Sufjan Stevens - I'm still amazed that Sufjan can take the most horrific subject matter and make it staggeringly poetic and beautiful. This is the kind of writer I'd like to be someday.
"Lost in the Supermarket" by the Clash - The first album I bought because I was "supposed to." That didn't stop me from loving it.
"The Modern Leper" by Frightened Rabbit - Where I'm at with music now
"Shiver" by Coldplay - My last year at the Naval Academy when all my friends were getting hitched and I was driving to a lot of weddings... this was the soundtrack.
"They Care" by Justin McRoberts - Justin's pretty much the only Christian artist (outside of Sufjan) that I still enjoy. This is the stuff I learned to play guitar to.
"Try a Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding - My latest interest/phase/fix ... I love soul.