28 December 2007

An Endless Source

One of the nice things about the holidays is receiving thoughtful gifts that you may otherwise overlook. There may be books that you'd like to buy, but at the time, they seem to be a luxury, as opposed to an immediate necessity. I received two books this holiday season that will certainly aid in the development of this music project.

One book is 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (as pictured above). There are a whole slew of these books. There are 1001 Paintings, Buildings, Movies, and Books. I'm sure there are others. Although by no means exhaustive, the books are incredibly interesting (and time consuming). With the number of albums of sheer genius out there, there generally are musicians/bands that have slipped through the cracks. Bands you have always wanted to listen to, but for some reason...just haven't. I'll have to admit that I have artists that I know I would love, but just for some reason our paths haven't crossed. Bob Dylan and I have yet to share a love affair, though Frank Sinatra and I are well acquainted. So the book provides a reminder, as well as some quick suggestions, about what music might be missing from your canon.

Another book I received was Daniel J. Levitin's This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of Human Obsession. I have not started this one yet, but simply flipping through I can tell it will provide me with another perspective on the relationship between the individual and music. Levitin begins his book discussing the pair of headphones his father purchased for him in 1969. Yes, I can tell I'll devour this text and feel a little less alone in the pursuit of musical memories.

22 December 2007

Katherine's Year of the Fire Pig Mix 2007

As I mentioned in an earlier post, every year I put together my annual holiday mix. This year I decided to dub it "Year of the Fire Pig", as some investigation proved that it is in fact the year of the fire pig (aka boar) until mid-February. What does this mean? The Chinese Fire Pig symbol (Fire over Water) contains a special character that forms an accelerator. The year has potential for situations to gather speed; to burn out of control.

The song listing: (hopefully the collection doesn't take after the fire pig)

I Don't Know If I Will Be Back This Time- Seawolf
Hold On- Darren Hanlon
Thunder Road- Bruce Springsteen
Part One- Band of Horses
(You Don't Know) How Glad I Am- Nancy Wilson
Don't Cry No Tears- Neil Young
You Are What You Love- Jenny Lewis
Sad and Beautiful World- Sparklehorse
Something Wrong- Sunbrain
The Latest Toughs- Okkervil River
The Sea Calls- Richard Hawley
For Once in My Life- Stevie Wonder
Just a Spark- Songs: Ohia
Rothko Chapel- David Dondero
Southern State- Bright Eyes and Britt Daniel
So Convinced- Superchunk
This Will Be Our Year- The Zombies

Enjoy. Happy Holidays.

10 December 2007


As the end of the year nears, folks everywhere scramble to put together their "best of the year" lists. These lists can cover any imaginable interest, whether it be the best books, best new restaurants, best wacky presents, best fads, best movies, best albums. Before 2007 becomes the past, we seek anxiously to quickly summarize what has passed in the year. All of this before we set out to resolve any number of changes in our personal lives.

Not only do I seek out these lists with avid curiosity, but I also compile my own "best of" list. For several years now, I have compiled an annual holiday mix. I send it out to many friends, new and old. I always find myself in late November scrolling through my music collection trying to find songs that either came out this year or those that have meant something special to me this year. I usually go through a couple of drafts, as I try out different song orders. I'm on draft two right now, which I think might be the winning transition.

As I did one last scroll tonight, I found myself listening to older songs that have found their way hidden in my collection of music. Songs that I had long forgotten about. As I listened to Pavement's Wowee Zowee, I discovered that the songs, the lyrics, the music- all had a different feel to me now.

Such is the case with any art form, the meaning may change for you over the years. This album didn't resonate in the same way years ago when I first heard it, as it did tonight. Perhaps there was something about the song We Dance that just didn't carry the same emotion to me in the past as it did tonight. This experience seems to speak to our own personal experience interpreting media for the first time and each subsequent time. The changes are representative of our travels and experiences.

All of this reminded me of Proust's Rememberance of Things Past, which I painfully admit I have not completed. I have picked up this novel several times. I have made it a hundred pages or so, but have not yet finished. I recognize the irony of this of course, given my research. I suppose I wonder if I just haven't arrived at the place in my life where this particular book will resonate to the point where I will flip through the pages in reckless abandon. Perhaps it will make it to my best of 2008 list.

And then maybe 2009 too.

05 December 2007

How Glad I Am

The first record I was ever conscious of...

A couple of months ago (but only a few weeks ago for me since I had to catch up on back-podcasts), NPR featured on All Things Considered their staff pick for a music segment. For this particular broadcast, they spoke with Roy Hurst, one of the producers. Hurst discussed the first record he was ever conscious of, which happens to be Nancy Wilson's How Glad I Am. He details his memories of the first time he heard the album. The images of him lying on his back, while a radio plays on a window sill are beautiful. While he tells the story, the song plays in the background.

Hurst does an excellent job of pinpointing the exact moment that I'm hoping to ascertain in my interviews, primarily when these moments come back to "haunt" you- whether driving in the car, having dinner at a restaurant, or walking around at the flea market. The memories come flooding back. You remember the first time and you remember every other time this song has impacted you. Hurst explores the circular nature of these memories, as the song comes back into his life numerous times. His memories of this album come full circle when he gets an opportunity to meet Nancy Wilson.

Listen to the story here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15369672&ft=1&f=1039

I will always remember that the first time I heard Nancy Wilson's How Glad I Am was the day I listened to Hurst explore his own memories of the first time he was conscious of this record.