What do you write about at the end of a year and/or decade? A Top 25 or 50 or 100 list, of course! They must be easy to compile, because they’re EVERYWHERE!
Ok, so maybe it’s not easy, but nice, big numbers lend themselves to effusive ramblings when all anyone wants is a recap of a great decade in music. I suppose when your platform is a blog that 8 people read, it IS easier.
Like me, I assume most people associate albums or songs with a particular time swatch of life. This is how I compartmentalize and recall the music that really stuck with me. “What happened in 1999 and what was I listening to?” Briefly, in 1999, I was a senior in college, backpacked around Northern Europe, graduated, moved from Boone, NC to Suwanee, GA, lived with my parents, worked in an Italian restaurant, had an early midlife crisis, moved (ran away) to the beach, got a job at Nordstrom, then got a ‘real job” and ended the year on a pretty high note. Oh, and I listened to a lot of Ben Harper that year. Tada!
I thought I’d challenge myself to rally the Top 10 of the aughts, or whatever the hell we’re calling the ten pre-2010 years. So, I contemplated a decade of music on a long, COLD run, and returned with a wind-burned face, a worn out dog and more than 10 to jot down on my little yellow legal pad. I sorted it out, though, and here we go, in a very particular and obvious order…
1999 — It should have been Built to Spill’s, Keep it Like A Secret, but I am a terrible liar, so I must admit that I didn’t discover this album until around 2004. Truth be told, I listened to Burn to Shine, by Ben Harper. It was kind of a turning point for me, musically, I think.
2001 – To communicate the conundrum in music that was 2001, I give you Mos Def, Black on Both Sides, but with Dave Matthews’ Everyday running a close second! This was the year I flew to George, Washington to see Dave at the Gorge. But Mos Def still, absolutely comes out on top. Clearly his best album to date.
2003 – Jay-Z, The Black Album. I drove my mom’s gold Lexus to the beach with this blasting through the Bose system when I–not surprisingly–got pulled over for speeding. I got a warning because I tend to either get really mad or cry in these situations. (I cried.) This is also the year I ran my first marathon, and I distinctly remember training with this album in my ears. A lot.
2004 – As previously mentioned, I listened to Built to Spill quite a bit this year, but the album of my year was absolutely Modest Mouse, Good News for People Who Love Bad News.
2005 – In the Reins, Iron & Wine and Calexico. I had a crush on a boy, in large part due to our shared love of this album and seeing Sam Beam live for the first time ever, together. The boy remains a dear friend, and the album one of my all-time favorites. (And I still hold onto the dream that Sam Beam will one day sing in my kitchen with Jenny Lewis and Jim James, though I’m not sure how that would ever work or why it might happen, but that’s why it’s so dreamy.)
2006 – Another conundrum. Want to debate the merits of John Mayer, Phoenix and Ghostface Killah? Neither do I. (Though I can.) Whether you’re in John Mayer’s camp with an “I heart John” poster or you’ve wanted to punch him since “Your Body is a Wonderland,” Continuum is an solid album on the heels of Try! which was complete with the bluesy riffs most of us thought to be merely Mayer bravado. Phoenix was on a “mixtape” compiled by a friend and I immediately fell in love with “Napolean Says.” But, having never gotten into Wu Tang back when I was supposed to, when I heard Fishscale, by Ghostface, I don’t think I took it out of my car stereo the rest of the year. Ghostface it is!
2007 – Under the Blacklight, Rilo Kiley. The only album close to this, for me, though I hate admitting it now, because I don’t like HIM, is Kanye’s Graduation. Who knew Kanye West’s initial stroke of genius would lead him down the road to asshole-dom? Rilo Kiley can do no wrong in my book, not that this is a character debate.
2008— Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes. I know, I know there was a LOT of great music released in 2008, but this album was unique and surprisingly soulful. It’s like Neil Young and the Shins got together with some other bearded boys from the neighborhood and said, “Let’s just see what happens.” And what happened was pure magic.
2009— Aaaaaahh, the year of the Supergroup! Monsters of Folk must take the title, though Them Crooked Vultures was definitely up there. Some Supergroups can’t live up to the hype. Some were brought together by record labels and forced to create something. This group of musicians came together on their time and terms and pulled off the album of the year.
Bring it on, 2010 and another 10 years of great music and memories!