Friday, January 08, 2010

That Whole Decade Thing

A friend of mine is hugely into pop culture in a way I'm just not comfortable with. It's specifically TV, movies and music, and the musical literacy is something that makes me look at my own progress in a harsh light. He made a list of his favorite singles of the decade, and while I recognized most of the artists and song names, I had to listen to most of them online and hadn't heard the majority of them. So then I started thinking, did I buy ANY music in the last decade? And as it turns out, I did, but not much -- and not all of it new:

Bought in 2000

Jill Scott, "Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1" (2000). I got this after hearing "A Long Walk" and listened to it so much that John, at age 2, was singing along, which was pretty funny. I feel like this is one of my first grown-up music purchases, because it was so unlike anything else I listened to regularly. I still listen to some of the songs, after putting it away for a while because it reminded me of when I was dealing with a mild case of depression.

Bought in 2002

Missy Elliott, "Under Construction" (2002). I think I saw a couple videos on MTV from Missy Elliott and I was so impressed I went right out and picked up "Under Construction" and loved it. This one was harder to listen to in the car with kids, though. I bought it at a time when I was going through a lot of difficulty with local politics and I used to crank it in the car on the way to DFL meetings. It also hugely boosted my rap cred, which until then had consisted of the Beastie Boys and House of Pain.

Bought in 2005

The White Stripes, "Get Behind Me Satan" (2005). After writing the White Stripes off when I saw their first video, and then warming up to them with their second, I didn't pay any attention to them until Matt told me about this fantastic new song he had heard and thought was a legitimate contender for New Music We Might Like. We bought the album and listened to it during a drive around Carlton County, when we looked at the house we were pretty sure we were going to buy IF ONLY OUR OTHER HOUSE WOULD SELL, FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING HOLY, and familiarizing ourselves with our soon-to-be-new-home. Our house didn't sell, our offer for the Carlton County house expired, and it was months before we moved into the house we are in now. Despite all that, I can still listen to this album with affection.

Iron and Wine, "Woman King" (2005). Working the night shift in Duluth and then driving home for 30 minutes gave me a good chance to listen to KUWS' excellent college radio programs and introduced me to Iron and Wine. These dark yet peaceful songs made a great soundtrack to heading up the North Shore under the northern lights.

Bought in 2006 (and 2009)

Neko Case, "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood" (2006) and "Middle Cyclone" (2009). Neko Case was another discovery from KUWS. "Fox Confessor" is outstanding. "Middle Cyclone" is not.

Bought in 2008

The Byrds, "The Fifth Dimension" (1966). I like jangly guitars and think "Eight Miles High" is one of the best songs evah and decided I should hear the rest of the album. I bought it and listened to the whole thing on a drive to the Iron Range and back just after I resigned from the newspaper; listening to it now makes me feel strong and competent, like I did on that sunny fall day.

Bought in 2009

Meat Puppets, "Sewn Together" (2009). This sounds just like their 1984 album which I got in 1994. Listening to it creates a sense of false nostalgia, but it's a good false nostalgia.

Drag the River, "You Can't Live This Way" (2008). Someone on a message board I participate in once in awhile posted a song from this album and just said, "Listen to this." Within three minutes this band went from completely unknown to me to one of my favorites. It's not a challenge: They sit firmly between the Jayhawks and Uncle Tupelo and nod warmly across the table at the Carpetbaggers, but there are worse things a band could do.

Bought in 2010

Les Negresses Vertes, "Mlah" (1988). So this is my first foreign-language music purchase. Wait, no -- I have a bunch of Russian rock. And I suppose Enya isn't always in English, either. This is my first all-French music purchase. I know. I KNOW! This is another bulletin board "listen to this!" purchase...I heard the song, liked it, tried out the others and found that I edit to them almost better than to "Check Your Head," and decided to take the plunge. I should get it tomorrow.


  1. And yes, I'm not even kidding when I say I bought about a dozen albums in the last decade.

  2. Anonymous4:16 AM

    I agree that "Fox Confessor" is excellent and "Middle Cyclone" isn't, but that last one has some great lines ("I've waited with a glacier's patience" gets me). I was introduced to Neko after "Blacklisted." I highly recommend it. In winter 2004-05, a friend sent me a mix CD that included a Neko song: "Deep Red Bells." It's probably my favorite song in the world. Whatever it's about, I think it tastes like popsicles ... in summer. That song makes me think of the Northwest, going to Cub Foods in the middle of the night in Duluth, and finding a guy on the other side of the country who let me copy Neko albums from him. It also makes me think of puking on Amtrak, but that's a story for another time, when there's more gin.

    -- Oregon