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I love music.
Okay, I know that’s cliche to say because, really, who doesn’t? I want to meet the one person who says, “Actually, I hate music but love awkward silence and listening to the sound my tires make when I drive by braille.”
But it’s true. I really, passionately do. Whether it’s in my classroom (Pandora has an option for censored songs, all you teachers out there. Wish someone told me that before Jay-Z told me and my entire 1st period that he had 99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one.), my car, or my home; there’s always music. In fact, as I write this post, I have Death Cab for Cutie on repeat.
No, I’m not depressed.
So it broke my heart the other day when, in an unsuccessful effort to spring clean my office, I came across all my CD binders – that’s right, plural – sitting in my closet, with a thick layer of dust. In the process of going digital and discovering the beauty of bluetooth, I neglected my CD collection. Rather than move on to KonMori my closet, I removed my yellow gloves, put down the Pledge, and went down compact disc memory lane.
First off, I had some damn good taste in music. Second, I also had some damn horrible taste in music. Seriously, 17 year old Julie. Did you have to spend your hard earned babysitting money and buy both Titanic soundtracks? Don’t even get me started on how my eyes rolled over the 50 Cent CD I found.
But even though I may have shuddered, I did find those albums that needed to be integrated back in the soundtrack of my life. Yes, I have a soundtrack to my life. There’s a lot of Florence + the Machine.
Hey, want to feel old? Lauryn Hill’s a grandmother now. You’re welcome.
Back in the late 90s, if you had a pulse, you most likely owned The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It’s also possible you attempted but failed miserably to rap alongside with Ms. Hill, but reality bitch slapped you and relegated you back to singing the chorus.
From reminding women to have respect for themselves and men to stop perpetuating society’s skewed standards of masculinity (“Doo Wop (That Thing)”) to calling out those who pissed her off – looking at you, Wyclef Jean (“Lost Ones”), Miseducation is one of those albums that no matter the year or even the decade, each song still rings relevant to the time.
Okay, so does every song on August and Everything After make sense? Um, no. Sometimes reading Counting Crows’ lyrics seems like trying to decipher a Keats poem while drunk.
But August has those songs you most definitely played during a breakup or because you heard it on Felicity. Sure, radio stations played “Mr. Jones” so much that you wished he would get lost in that barrio he stumbled through. But songs like “Sullivan Street” and “Anna Begins” make this album worth a spot in your car’s CD rotation.
Random Fact About Me: I went to UC Berkeley, and tried to stalk lead singer and Berkeley local Adam Duritz. I failed miserably.
Yes, The Roots have been known by many as the house band for The Tonight Show, and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson have more chemistry together during their reenactments of The Bachelor than the actual bachelor and his new fiancé.
But The Roots Crew is one of the best hip-hop groups of all time.
Although that distinction is evident throughout the band’s history, it’s Phrenology that made me fall in love with the boys from Philly. This was the album I would crank up to full volume in my Toyota Corolla and test the limits of my bass setting.
Take one listen to “Seed 2.0” and try not to dance.
You’ll fail but at least you tried.
Truth time: I wasn’t crazy about Alanis Morissette when she arrived with Jagged Little Pill. First of all, we get it – you’re pissed at Dave Coulier. Also, nothing in that other song is ironic. Seriously, it’s just effed up timing and Mother Nature.
This isn’t ironic. It’s just you not paying attention. And if it’s free, why did the driver accept your money?!
Then a gentler, calmer and more zen Alanis emerged in 2004, and with her came songs that were definitely crafted after intense therapy sessions. If Jagged was her angry stage album, So Called Chaos was her way of announcing to the world that she finally reached the acceptance stage.
“This Grudge” is a direct response to “You Oughta Know,” acknowledging that holding on to feelings of anger and resentment does nothing for anyone:
I want to be big and let go
Of this grudge that’s grown old
All this time I’ve not known
How to rest this bygone
I want to be soft and resolved
Clean of slate and released
I want to forgive for the both of us
Somewhere in Canada, Uncle Joey plays this song EVERYDAY.
But it’s her song “Everything” that still resonates with me, even 12 years later, and is still one of the most honest and real love songs that celebrates what makes a woman amazing and includes the word “asshole” in the most endearing way:
I can be an asshole of the grandest kind
I can withhold like it’s going out of style
I can be the moodiest baby and you’ve never met anyone
Who is as negative as I am sometimes….
You see everything, you see every part
You see all my light and you love my dark
You dig everything of which I’m ashamed
There’s not anything to which you can’t relate
And you’re still here
The best part about this song? It was inspired by her then fiancé, Ryan Reynolds. That’s right: Ryan. Reynolds.
Alanis, you can’t see it right now, but I’m giving you a teen movie-style standing ovation.