Why I’m Listening To All My Old Music

In 2000, I took the opportunity to organize my CD collection.  I took them all out of their plastic jewel cases, and moved them all to binders, each that held around 100 CDs.  After I did this, I decided that I wanted to listen to each and every one of the CDs, so I embarked on a quest where I methodically went through each CD and listened to it.

mb-201309cdsMy approach then was simple, I went from front to back, hitting all three binders simultaneously.  That way, I spread out the music so that I wasn’t listening to 22 Billy Joel CDs in a row (yes, I probably have that many).

The whole process was pretty cool, though it drove the girl that I was dating at the time absolutely nuts, as it sort of led to a lot of random music being played, a lot of which was ‘old’ by that point.  ‘Old’ meaning 5-8 years old, as I amassed a majority of my CD collection during college as I suppose is probably the case for most people.  That have CDs.

I can’t remember how long the process took, but probably a few months.  It was pretty cool and I’ve decided to go through the process again.  With some changes.  Here’s why I’m going through a listen of all of my music:

  • I listen to some pretty cool music – There’s a lot of stuff that I haven’t listened to in a long time that, once I listen to it again, I get a new appreciation for.  Elton John signing “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” gives me a new appreciation for his music every time I listen to it.
  • I am reminded that taste is fleeting – Some of the stuff I bought in the 1990’s had to seem like a good idea at the time, but I can’t help but laugh and wonder what I was thinking when I hit some of those CDs.  Yes, I’m talking to you Gin Blossoms and Soul Asylum.
  • I’m reminded that things change – A lot of music associates with me at various points in my life.  A lot of the CDs I listened to in college bring back some good (and not so good) memories of college.  Even if they’re not all good memories, they bring me back to the experience.  A good portion of who you are ties back to your past.  Don’t forget that.
  • I’m reminded that some things never change – OK, how is it that the Goo Goo Dolls have put out the same single over and over again for about 20 years now?  As I listen to the stuff from the 1990’s, it sounds exactly like the stuff they still release.

The process is a little different these days.  A few years ago I took my CD collection and converted it to MP3, simply popping in a CD every time I sat down at the computer.  So, now it’s all digital.  I’ve added stuff since then, through CDs bought, purchased, or otherwise.

I also don’t listen to it in order.  So I’ll probably miss stuff.  Essentially what I do is copy a few artists at a time from my home storage system to a thumb drive, which I pop in and listen to at work.  When I’m done with an album, I delete it off the thumb drive, and once I run out of music, it’s time to reload at home.

Readers, do you still have a music collection?  When was the last time you give it a (mostly) top to bottom listening to?

You Never Know What Memories Will Become Long Lasting

The other day, I was listening to some music, and rather than listen to Pandora, I decided to flip through some of my MP3 files that I have on a thumb drive.  I decided to listen to listen to an album I haven’t heard in awhile, Facing Future by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.   As soon as I heard the first notes of track 1, it instantly brought back memories to that trip because it was the CD we played in the camper while the kids napped.  This always associate it with that ‘first trip.

But as I listened this time, I became nostalgic for that trip.

Which surprised me.  A lot.

If you read my post a few months back of our first camping misadventure, you’d know that the first few weeks of having our camper the past season were a bit tumultuous.  It wasn’t an awful trip but it was stressful.  Consider:

  • Driving it the first time – Although we purposefully picked a campground less than an hour away, it was the first time I’d driven it for more than a few miles without my father-in-law.  It was completely nerve racking.
  • The fridge wasn’t working – We never realized until we hit the road that the fridge wasn’t going to work while traveling.  It had worked the entire time we had it in our driveway, getting it ready for the season, but as soon as we unplugged and expected it to switch over to propane, it didn’t.  Being a short trip, we didn’t take the time to troubleshoot, but it was still stressful.
  • Backing in – I’d never really backed in before, and although we had a large spot, it was still stressful because we didn’t have a clear spot in which to back in that would also allow our camper to be plugged in, so it ended up taking too long and we ended up facing the wrong way anyways (in terms of getting sun at the right tiime)
  • That dang fridge again – Once we got there and got plugged in, the fridge still wouldn’t stay cold.  I kept turning it colder and it wouldn’t get colder, making for mushy ice cream.
  • Our baby girl – Our daughter turned one year old on the trip.  Her first year, including the camping trip, was a struggle.  While there were plenty of wonderful moments that first year, there were many bumps along the way.  It was always a struggle for her to eat.  She didn’t sleep that good (5:30 was her usual wake up time and napping never really got into a groove). Plus, she was very shy about strangers, which extended to anybody outside of Mrs. Beagle and I.  She often screamed anytime our parents tried to hold her.   These struggles were ever present during that first camping trip.
  • The campground – Many of the other campgrounds we went to last summer were awesome.  Some had great beaches.  Some had great sites.  Some had great trails for bike riding.  This had none of those things.  It wasn’t an awful campground, it was just…a campground.

While it wasn’t an awful trip by any means, many of the memories I have of this summer came from other trips and such.  So, when I started to get nostalgic, I actually sat down and thought about why.

Here’s what I came up with:

  • It was our first time – Everybody remembers their first time, right?  While first times of any new experience aren’t often fantastic, they are always remembered vividly.
  • We did have a lot of things to smile about – The problem with the fridge not staying cold is that I was pushing the temperature to the higher number, which in our camper meant warmer.  I was actually making it warmer!  Once I realized that, the problem was solved.  As I look back on that, it’s actually funny.
  • The human brain – That goes to the point that time fades bad memories.  Many of the things that caused stress and such have already faded away, but the good memories remain.  I think the human brain is amazing at doing this, and I’ve heard it said that this is inherent in us, because the brain didn’t push aside painful memories, no woman would ever go through carrying and delivering a child more than once!
  • Our baby girl – All of the issues that plagued our baby girl that first year and that first trip started to turn around her first birthday.  It’s one of those things where you don’t really notice the change until you can step back and take a look, but at a certain point later in the summer, when she was happier, friendly toward strangers, on a good schedule, and eating like a champ (she eats better than her older brother now), we realized that the trip was when she turned the corner and she started shedding her ‘baby troubles’ skin.
  • Everything else got better too – Every drive after that was a little less stressful.  Every time backing it was a little easier (mostly).  Every cleanup and trip was less stressful than the last, which took away a lot of the lasting negative impressions from that first one.  At the time it didn’t seem like I would ever get the hang of many of the things, but once I did, it made me realize that all of those troubles were awfully less troublesome than I’d first thought.

Apply this principle to your daily life.

Everybody looks to make lasting memories out of occasions that are easy to pinpoint: Weddings. Birthdays.  Anniversaries.  Vacations.  Many of these things are rightfully planned with the idea to have fun, make memories and create experiences that will last forever.

The thing is that those aren’t the only times that memories will get created.  You never know what moment will come back and give you longing in your heart to be able to live it again.  So, try to live as many moments as you can to their fullest.  Don’t just plod through your work week, through your day at the job, through the chores around the house without looking around and trying to take in that moment.

Many would discount the idea that you could have a great memory at work, or that you should really try to live life while sweeping out the garage, and I’m not saying that you should be someone that looks to find everlasting happiness in every moment, but what I’m trying to say is don’t shut yourself out of the experiences you’re part of so that you might miss out on something later.

Readers, have you ever had a memory or an experience come back as a warm memory or nostalgic moment that surprised you as such?


What In The World Is Happening To Me?

Something has happened to me recently that has chilled me to the bone.  It troubles me. It disturbs me.  It makes me question whether I’ve been possessed.

What is this, you ask?

I’ll tell you:

I’ve stopped hating Taylor Swift.

Allow me to explain.

Since she first burst onto the scene, Taylor Swift leaped to the top of famous people that annoy me.  I thought her music was too bubblegum and all she did was sing about wanting to steal other people’s boyfriends.  I was more old school in some of my musical tastes.

I got so good that when driving in the car, I could recognize one of her songs and change the station within two measures of the song starting.

Didn’t matter what the song was.  Didn’t matter if I was even paying attention to the radio or not…flicking the button when one of her songs came on was as instinctive to me as pulling your hand away after touching a hot pot.  I had hating her music down to an art.

And, I was proud of it.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, just like that, it was gone.

One of her songs came on the radio and….I didn’t change it.

I immediately recognized this as abnormal behavior. Several thoughts passed through my head:

Am I tired? No, I’ve been getting pretty good sleep lately.

Am I drunk? No, it was the middle of the day and I was driving my family around.  Definitely hadn’t consumed any alcohol.

Am I possessed? I don’t know what possession feels like but I felt in control of everything else.

Am I on anything else? Nope.  See above.

What is happening?

I figured it was just an abnormal response, but the next time a song came on, it also stayed on.  A couple of days later I was driving to work and heard a brand new song by some hip-hop artist that she was in…and I didn’t change it then either.  In fact, two thoughts popped into my head simultaneously: “That’s Taylor Swift” and “This isn’t bad.”

Scary stuff, huh?

I won’t go as far as to say that I like her music….but the fact that I can now tolerate it, and that this happened out of the blue, this is bone chilling to me. And that it happened just like that.

Am I just getting soft or am I in real trouble here?

Lionel Richie Is A Genius

As a child of the 1980’s, one of the more long-standing musical memories is that of Lionel Richie’s music.  I admit, I was a geek and I listened to America’s Top 40 (go Casey Kasem!) religiously every week.  It seemed Lionel Richie was on the charts every week with some hit or another.

Who didn’t think about dancing on the ceiling at some point after hearing his song with the same title?

Admit it, you did.

Anyways, his music has held up pretty well over the years.  He hasn’t had a lot of new stuff that I can think of, but most of his ‘hits’ are still played frequently on Adult Contemporary or Light Rock stations everywhere.

His latest album, Tuskegee, is pure genius.  He has re-recorded most of his greatest hits as duets with country singers, including the likes of Kenny Chesney, Rascall Flatts, and the guy I figure he had to take inspiration from, Darius Rucker, who jumped from pop (lead singer of Hootie & The Blowfish) to a straight country artist. With smashing success.

All of the songs have the same familiar feel of the originals.  There are no wild changes here.  But, they add the element of country music, which is a pretty big market.

And I love it.  Here’s why:

  • It introduces a new generation to Lionel Richie – Sure, younger people have probably heard a lot of his songs, but probably classified them as ‘oldies’.  Now, they can actually listen to his ‘current’ stuff.
  • It opens a new audience – Pure country fans probably also heard of Lionel Richie, but were likely never fans.  Now, they can be.
  • He can make royalties galore – Now, country stations can add his songs to their playlist, and the stations that play his music can substitute the newer versions of his songs, and likely give him more spots in their rotation.  Ka-ching to Lionel Richie.

I bet we’ll probably see a lot of older artists try to make this move.  Or at least, if they’re smart, they could try.

Here are a few that I think could pull this off pretty well:

  • Neil Diamond – I’ve always loved Neil Diamond, so I think this would be awesome.  He’s a little cheesy but I think the country singers would line up to perform with him.  He’s got a catalog spanning five decades.  There have to be some hits somewhere.
  • Elton John – Another one of my favorites.  He has gracefully aged into somewhat of a elder statesman in music, and I would think he could easily pull a country duets album off.
  • Fleetwood Mac – Many of their 1970’s hits still hold up today, and I think classics like “You Make Loving Fun” and “Silver Springs” could easily transition to country, just like Lionel did, without many changes to the sound.

Have you heard anything from the ‘new’ Lionel Richie album?  What other artists do you think could make the country jump?

Soundtrack of Life

Taking a day off from personal finance stuff….

I was looking through my MP3 collection, which is 98% stuff that I have from ripping my CDs.

I came across songs that I love to listen to and evoke some great memories.  If you can’t tell, a good part of my musical history is stuck in the 90’s, but that’s cool with me:

  •  Bawataba – Kid Rock – Listening to this song always makes my blood flow and makes me want to pump my fist.  Awesome energy here!
  • Return to Innocence – Enigma –  I just love this song.  I actually didn’t find this in my collection but heard it on the radio a couple of weeks back.  This song (and the video) are just amazing.
  • Tonight, Tonight – Smashing Pumpkins – I loved the Pumpkins back in the day and this was probably the song I remember most from the time we went to see them in concert.
  • Here I Go Again – Whitesnake – This song was like it for me for a while in the mid-80’s.  It just got me charged up and still makes me smile when I listen to it.
  • Funky Cold Medina – Tone Loc – Tone Loc had a short flame but he had a couple of gems, and this is the one that makes me laugh every time as his ‘Spanish fly’ has awful results every time
  • Amazed – Lonestar – This was the song that my wife and I did our first dance to as husband and wife, as a Lonestar concert she invited me to opened the door to our relationship.  This will always hold a spot special in my heart because I’ll always be amazed by her!
  • Sandstorm – Da Rude – This was a popular song right around the time we were going out nightclubbing most often.  Hint to all those who are getting married soon: It’s a great song for the DJ to play as he introduces you at the reception.
  • Peter Gunn Theme – Blues Brothers – For some (awesome) reason, my dad let me watch The Blues Brothers movie as a kid.  Even though it was filled with cursing, crime, and general debauchery, I loved it.  Oh, come on, that’s precisely why I loved it!  And I still turned out OK!  Still, this song reminds me of what is still one of my favorite movies to this day (thanks, Dad!)
  • The Freshmen – The Verve Pipe – They were a local band for years before they ‘hit it big’ for a brief time.  They played at our college right before this song took off.
  • Summertime – Will Smith – I have to admit, most of the stuff he talks about in the song (playing basketball, cruising, etc.) are not things I do, but even so, this song epitomizes the awesomeness of summer more than any other!
  • Zoo Station – U2 – Achtung Baby was one of my favorite CDs, to the point where during freshman year of college I was known as ‘the guy who played that U2 CD all the time’.  This song opened up the album, what I consider one of the greatest I’ve heard.
  • Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve – Great song that makes me want to learn how to play the violin every time I hear it, a feeling that goes away moments after the song ends!
  • Lie In Our Graves – Dave Matthews Band – Makes you think about ensuring you live life to the fullest!
  • Cry Little Sister – The Lost Boys Soundtrack – I went with a friend and his family to an amusement park a few hours away, and played this song over and over again on my Walkman during the ride down.
  • Shine – Newsboys – Just a great, great song that often gets me motivated to start going to church again when I find myself slipping out of the habit.
  • Cure For Pain – Morphine – I was in a relationship once that got me very little in the way of good, but one thing I did get was introduced to Morphine, a band with a unique sound that was cut short when their lead singer passed away unexpectedly during a concert.
  • Rest Stop – Matchbox Twenty – When this song came out, I was dating a girl, and I joked that one day she would dump me this way.  She laughed and said she never would.  A few months later, she did.  I started trusting my instincts when it came to dating a lot more after that.
  • Who’s That Man – Toby Keith – Who knew Toby Keith would ever be so big, with this being one of his first hits and one of my first introductions to the fact that country music could be cool?  Plus, I have always seen it as a little poke at the ‘my dog, my wife, and my house are gone’ that country got a reputation for, all while putting on a fresh spin.
  • South Side – Moby – A number of years back, I had some friends over for the 4th of July, where we grilled, drank, laughed, talked, etc.  There was a lull where Moby was playing, and we all just seemed to sit and reflect on things.  I’ve had more than one person tell me that Moby reminds them of that moment.
  • Disneyland – Five For Fighting – This and the next few are just because
  • Run Around – Blues Traveller
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John
  • Captain Jack – Billy Joel
  • Rock of Ages – Def Leppard
  • The World I Know – Collective Soul
  • It Takes Two – Rob Base & DJ Easy Rock
  • Superman – Crash Test Dummies
  • Find The River – R.E.M. – This is the last song on one of my favorite albums ever (Automatic For The People) and I’ve always saw it as the most fitting song to close an album ever.  I would love for it to one day (a long way away) be played at my funeral.  But for now, I’ll leave it, fittingly, as the last song on this list!

Any of these bring back some good memories for you?