Listening to: Songs that define(d) my life

Reading: Everyone’s discography, to check my timeline/memory.

Writing about: Music, over time

The Rules

Two albums from every 5 year period of my life
Not looking the “best” albums of those years.
Looking for albums that had the biggest impact on me in those years.
Sometimes I pushed the timeline by a year or two. Sue Me.
(You’d have to do a lot of googling to find out where I did that, I doubt you’ll be doing that)
As always, minimal explanation.
Friends who blog: make one of these, I want more!

 Alabama | My Home's in Alabama
 The Big Chill Soundtrack

I am pretty sure my mother saw Alabama play a million times.  She had buttons, fringe jackets, strands of beard that were tossed out at concerts, all sorts of gear. She loved Alabama. There is a good chance that Tyler the Fetus knew all the words to Alabama songs.

My Dad always wanted the toddler versions of my sister and I to be the backups for a family doo-wop band.  The Big Chill is a perfect representation of the doo-wop my dad aspired to for us.  There is a good chance that some song from this soundtrack was playing ten minutes before I became Tyler the Fetus.

 DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince | He's the DJ I'm the Rapper
 Dare to be Stupid | Weird Al Yankovik

I knew all of the words to all of the Jazzy Jeff/Fresh Prince records.  I probably still do.
Every kid, to this day, has a Weird-Al phase.  He is honestly fantastic and has outlived most of the music he parodied. He had a great album a year or two ago and is on tour now…anyone game?  (also UHF!)

 Arrested Development | 3 years, 5 months, and 2 days in the life of...
 Genesis | We Can't Dance

These are the first two albums I bought for myself, We Can’t Dance-tape, 3 years…-C.D.
I saw Arrested Development on the “25th anniversary of 3 years…” tour (clunky name right?)
There were less people in the crowd than there were in the 1991 version of the band.  I should qualify that: there were A LOT of people in Arrested Development in ’91.  That album holds up like crazy, still good!

 Fugazi | Repeater + 3 Songs
 Alice in Chains | Dirt

This is where things begin to diverge. Before the internet, there was a special kind of knowledge and social web that unlocked a world of non-commercial music. I discovered that special knowledge in 7th grade. Most of my most important albums from here on get weird. Whatever changed in those years didn’t change back.

Alice in Chains is too dark for my taste now, but Repeater is in the running for most important and favorite album of my lifetime.  Also 15 year olds: ANGST!  BWWAARR!

 Mineral | The Power of Failing
 Keith Green | The Ministry Years

I’ll bet everyone’s “most important-most important albums” are cemented in the 18-25 year-old range.  Keith Green fundamentally shaped my faith and theology, and he is unbelievably corny.  Very hard to listen to now, very important to me.

The Power of Failing is hands down, without a doubt, my lifetime defining album.  It hit every button and came at just the right time. Powerful, faithful, “secret” (if you’ve heard it, there is a good chance I already know). I saw Mineral doing a 20 year reunion tour and wrote about it, the show was every bit as meaningful and powerful for me 20 years later, as an old guy with kids. If I could make you love it, I would.

 Pedro the Lion | It's Hard to Find a Friend
 Dillinger Escape Plan | Calculating Infinity

I listened to metal a lot for a little over a decade (it was slowly phased out by hip-hop for me). Dillinger was the pinnacle of that phase for me: technical, brutal, loud.

Pedro the Lion comes in a very close second to Mineral in terms of impact for me.  If you don’t know the story (and you probably don’t) the broad and sloppy version is this:  David Bazan writes with unparalleled clarity and honesty. His career inadvertently tracked his movement from honest struggling evangelical to angry closeted atheist, to honest outright atheist.  “It’s Hard…” is his second album that hit a lot of us young evangelicals right in the feels, his first “cracks in the surface” moments.

 Matisyahu | Light
 Reflection Eternal | Revolutions Per Minute

2011 Is just past the time that most of what I listen to feels super important and meaningful.  I had loved Matis since Stubbs I, but “Light” is something special.  If it had been released 10 years earlier, it would have done the same thing “The Power of failing” did.

 Trevor Hall | Kala
 The Collection | Ars Moriendi

How do you say what album is going to stick with you from right now?  It’s much tougher.  These two albums both have that special thing that makes me more than just enjoy them, I feel connected to the content, I listen to them A LOT.

What are yours?

When people still carried their music around in separate units (Tape/CD cases, iPods) I would always enjoy rifling through someone’s albums.  People don’t like you to rifle through their phones, so I suppose that’s kind of a dead tradition.  You lear a lot about some one that way.

I once rode in a friend’s brother’s car on vacation and his CD booklet was a carbon copy of my high school cd collection: instant friend.  If “the power of failing” shows up in my sidebar on Spotify, I love you a little more.  I haven’t talked to David Ewing since he left youth group, but he listens to American Football (spotify stalking), and he’s way too young for that, so I know I still like him. Same exact story with Josh Crowley, haven’t talked since 1999, still love him because of his spotify feed.

What does your list look like?  real question, not rhetorical.


Also: Selected tracks from my lifetime:



life defining