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Friday, June 09, 2006

The Lonesome Crowded West


You know that feeling you get when you see an old friend you haven't seen in a long time. I'm referring to a dear friend who you enjoy spending time with but for one reason or another you just don't seem to spend as much time as you would like anymore. And after an extended time apart, you finally get a chance to catch up. The feeling is wonderful, the air seems to smell better, and the time passes way too fast. Unfortunately, you also realize that after this it will be another long time before you meet up again. So you cherish this time for all its worth.

Well, I have a similar relationship with music. There are many CDs I really enjoy but for one reason or another I just don't listen to frequently. Maybe it's hearing early 90s alternative rock at a bar that made me rush home and listen to "Gentleman". Or maybe I just realized I had not heard "Overwhelmed" by Sloan in a really long time. Whatever it is, there is something that transcends the actual music.

And to that point, there are those special CDs that evoke powerful emotions that seem to exist in a physical world. Maybe it's a time in your life or maybe an event or a feeling or whatnot, but there's a bond that's deeper than the music. And it may not even be your favorite CD, but it has a special place in your heart. Below are a smattering of CDs that do that to me. And to illustrate this point, I would say "OK Computer" is in my top 5 CDs of all time. Yet it wouldn't make any list because for one reason or another. And this quick list is off the top of my head.


  1. "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" by Neutral Milk Hotel. Definitely one of my 5 favorite CDs of all time. The raw emotion in the songs requires me to listen to the entire CD from start to finish, which is why it's a staple of any long trip. But I don't really listen to it frequently. And it really brings back the time right after 9/11, when I listened to it repeatedly. But it actually brings back memories of hope for me - for this was the CD that comforted me through the tough times.
  2. "The Boy With the Arab Strap" by Belle & Sebastian and "Tone Soul Evolution" by Apples in Stereo. This takes me back to my first apartment in Chicago when I started my first real job and was new to the area and making friends. I can see myself staying up late drinking and smoking while playing College Football on my PlayStation. I'm sure I listened to other music, but I only remember these 2 CDs.
  3. "Slanted and Enchanted" by Pavement. I remember Christmas at my parents house listening to this CD for hours on their stereo after getting it from them. Definitely opened up my eyes to the indie world. I was always an adventurous listener, even when it was crappy butt rock. But this made me seek out indie music and changed my musical tastes for the better.
  4. "Funhouse" by The Stooges. Again, this would be in my top 5. Doesn't evoke a particular as much as a general feeling. It was as if someone opened up my eyes, as if I had been walking around my whole life with headphones on and they were finally removed. Or the old proverbial kick in the groin, but in a good way. Definitely changed my musical tastes and shaped my love of garage rock and punk rock and how the primal can be so much more powerful than proficiency.
  5. "The Clash" by The Clash. Holy Shit!!! I think I spent an entire summer driving to and from work listening to this. Again, lead to many many many further purchases of punk rock.

Now, the reason I initially wrote this was to discuss "The Lonesome Crowded West" by Modest Mouse. But I realized it was important to me for reasons that go beyond the music. Sure, I could describe the music and all, but that's not what the CD means to me. I popped it into my CD player yesterday for the first time in months. And right when the guitar started for "Teeth Like God's Shoeshine", I noticed I had a huge grin on my face. The world just seemed better, as I was reunited with an old friend. And to be honest, "Moon and Antarctica" is the better CD. But the flaws in LCW are also special to me. It brings me back to when I moved to the city and growing up, which really means becoming sure of myself and true to myself. This is the CD of me gaining confidence in myself and being comfortable with who I am. It also includes some of my favorite lyrics to quote. So to quote Isaac Brock, I will:

  • "Opinions were like kittens I was giving them away" - Out of Gas
  • "1 Year, 20 Years, 40 Years, 50 Years everybody in their life must look in the mirror and say my parents are still alive" - Doin' the Cockroach
  • "I'm trying to drink away the part of the day I can not sleep away" - Polar Opposites
  • "You move your mouth, you shake your tongue, you vibrate my eardrums. You're saying words but you know I'm not listening." - Doin' the Cockroach
  • "Eating snowflakes with a plastic fork and a paper plate of course you think of everything" - Trailer Trash

UPDATE: I added the picture of Modest Mouse after my work computer wouldn't let me today.

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2 Comments:

Blogger melanaise said...

blogger has been really effing up lately. I REFUSE to switch to myspace. Too many teenagers and kids and crazy ass junk.

I don't understand myspace anyhow...all the floating pictures of friends..the chaos.

6/09/2006 08:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The years go fast and the days go so slow.

9/10/2006 09:27:00 PM  

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