Because this was the year my entire approach to buying and enjoying music changed. This was the year of the ipod (yes, cue angellic music). Seriously, has there been a more important development in the music industry (industry, not art) that the proliferation of mp3 players ad legal downloading? No longer do you have to buy an entire album for the one cool song you heard. That said, there are some artists I love so much that I did download entire albums, or albums who had enough I liked I felt same buying them. For the record, here is that list: Jars of Clay, Good Monsters; Snow Patrol, Eyes Open; Jewel, Goodbye Alice in Wonderland; Indigo Girls, Despite our Differences; and Shawn Colvin, These Four Walls. There were a couple of e.p.s in there too, but I'm not counting them as full albums. For the record, I enjoyed all of these albums, there wasn't really a dud in the bunch, but two of them stood out from the rest.
Despite our Differences by The Indigo Girls.
How is it that two southern lesbians can write such truthful songs about love and God and Politics that they actual seem to be writing my inner monologue? These girls tell the truth about life, and they tell it beautifully. There is also in their music an acceptance of people, of loved ones, and even of their enemies that they can, even while they ask for what they want, understand how people are just people, and not every person is capable of truth, or love, or faithfulness, and on a basic level, that is ok. We are who we are.
You run/that's all you've ever done/that's all you know to do/I can't hold that against you
You flee/cause you're born to be free/and if you go, I'll understand/but you better get out while you can
They get political, as always. Pendulum Swinger laments the current state of things, while looking for more representation for women in positions of power in ever place in society.
What we get from you war-walk/the ticker of the nation breaking down like a bad clock/I want the pendulum to swing again/till all your mighty mandate was just spitting in the wind
Their music, unlike in past albums, notably All that We let in, avoids the morose. Nearly every track on this album has a nice drum-bass going on that moves it along. Some of the lyrics are sad, but the music is gorgeous, even on such songs as "Last Tears."
If we're a drop in the bucket/with just enough science to keep from saying "fuck it!"/Until the last drop of sun burns a sweet light/plenty of revolutions left to try to get this thing right...
I hope they're right, and I hope they're around for every one of them.
Good Monsters by Jars of Clay
All the Good Monsters open their eyes/to see the waste and where the home fires rise/and all the people shouting "why? why? why?"/do you know what you are/do you know what you are?
It us probably a surprise to no one that I am drawn to the apocalyptic imagery in this song. But more than that, it asks the question that I think is the most important. Do you know who you are? Answering that question, since we are all of us monsters in one way or another, is the first step in some of us becoming good monsters.
The song Light gives heat tempts the invocation of my "you lose it when you cue the children's choir" rule, but since the song is about Africa, and the way white christians often go in to "help" the natives with a condescending "we'll save you" attitude, and the choir in question is the African Children's Choir, it gets away with it. The song is gorgeous, and its message much needed.
Catch the rain in empty hands/save the children from their lands/wash the darkness from tehir skins/heroes from the west/we don't know you, but we know best/but this is not a test/you treat me like I'm blind/setting fires around the houses on a hill/but light gives heat/you segregate my mind/burning crosses from your fields/but light gives heat
The band, former teen wunderkinds now in their early thirties (like some other people who will remain nameless but who have blogs), write honestly about love and marriage in the songs Water under the bridge and Mirrors and Smoke.
I do not love you the way I did when we met/There are secrets and arguments we haven't finished yet/But it's only that grace has outlived our regrets/we're still here/maybe we can stay till the last drop of water flows under the bridge
There are times meant for breaking/and words to ignore/and we've bent to our souls/when our skin is at war/and if leaving were freedom/we'd both walk right out of that door/but we can stay/till the last drop of water flows under the bridge
and the years roll by/and you hold my hand/while the shdows stretch over the land ...crumble and fall in my arms and we'll struggle to hold on/ waters they rise and the carry our hopes and our dreams away, but we can stay ...
This is my album of the year, and is the best album of Jars of Clay's already long career.
and now, my top-ten songs of the year. They had to be from this year, not older songs that I discovered:
10. The Guy that says goodbye to you is out of his mind by Griffin House
you don't need to change/a thing about you, Babe/I'm telling you, from where I sit, you're one of a kind/relationships, I don't know why, they never work out/they make you cry/but the guy that says goodbye to you is out of his mind
9. Gotta have you by The Weepies
grey/quiet and tired and mean/looking at worry and seeing/tried to make you mad at me/over the phone/red/eyes and fires and signs/I'm taken by a nursery rhyme/I want to make a ray of sunshine/and never leave home/no amount of coffee, no amount of cryin'/no amount of whiskey/no amount of whine/nothing else will do/I gotta have you.
8. Good Monsters by Jars of Clay
7. Hate Me by Blue October
I've got to block out thoughts of you so I don't lose my head/they're crawling like a cockroach leaving babies in my bed/dropping little reels of tape/to remind me that I'm alone/playing movies in my head that make a porno feel like home
6. Here Comes Now by Jakob Dylan
meet me out in the open sky/a perfect storm is on the rise/beyond the city moving/it is planned/something comes from a strange land/the trail of dust on the building tops/it's everything you've wanted....Here comes now/ready or not/the future comes round/much sooner than you thought/here comes now.
5. Tuff Kid by Shawn Colvin
My mama had me, but she didn't get me/I think I broke her at the age of five/My daddy hit me/but he couldn't quit me/we taught each other how to feel alive ...
4. I Believe in love by the Indigo Girls
I want to say that underneath it all you are my friend/and the way that I feel for you/I'll never fall that way again/I still believe despite our differences/what we have's enough/and I believe in you/and I believe in love.
3. Light Gives Heat by Jars of Clay
2. Hands Open by Snow Patrol
It's hard to argue when/you won't stop making sense/but my tongue just misbehaves/and keeps digging my own grave
with my hands open/and my eyes open/I just keep hoping/that your heart opens
Why would I sabotage/the best thing that I've got/well, it makes it easier/to know exactly what I want....
It's not as easy as wearing it all to be right/gotta be more than hope when it's right/I want to hear you laugh like you really mean it/collapse onto me tired with joy ...1. Half-assed by Ani DiFranco
You start tripping/and I start slipping away/I was taught to zip it/when I got nothing nice to say/and down in the texas of my heart/driving really bug truck down a dirt road/my love is scrunching up it features/through really big eyes, big lips, big noseshow me a moment that is mine/its beauty blinding and unsurpassed/made me resent every moment that went by/and left me so downhearted 'cause I felt it so half-assed