Tuesday, February 5, 2013


I'm an old school music buyer.  I don't mean the type of music I buy, although I do enjoy my classic rock.  What I mean is that I usually purchase the whole album when one of my favorite artists releases something new.  I feel a sense of betrayal if I don't buy the entire record.  Even if some of the songs are a miss, I don't delete the duds on my ipod.

I distinctly remember fast forwarding through tapes on my walkman to skip songs that weren't my favorites.  I didn't have the same options that we have with digital music these days. 

Our kids tend to buy one or two songs at a time.  It's rare that they download an entire album, or God forbid, pick up the CD off the aisle at Tarjay.  Even M didn't rush to buy the entire Justin Beiber album when it came out, choosing instead to pick and choose songs to her liking.

My problem with the "onsey-twosey" approach is that you might miss a real gem.  Some songs take a few listens to really appreciate.  A great riff or a perfect lyric may come at the end of the song.  Listening to the entire album as a musician or band has envisioned sometimes tells a bigger story than just one song at a time (The Decembrists come to mind).  Sometimes you need to see the whole picture.

It still bothers me when people make generalizations about the girls and our family based on the superficial things they observe.  M smiles a lot at school, which must mean she's completely over the loss of her parents and is happy all the time.  E gets good grades and is swimming well, so everything is hunky dory again and she's "moved on" from the tragedy.  The boys joke around with the girls and, therefore, are completely happy the girls have come to live with us.

I live with the whole album.  The bad dreams.  The temper tantrums.  The sad moments during what should be times of joy.

I regularly berate myself for not focusing more on the positive and dwelling too much on the challenging issues with the girls and our new family.  Just downloading those songs that other people have given four bars on itunes.

That isn't authentic to me.  I'm a whole album kind of girl. The rose colored glasses don't fit me.  Maybe this makes me tiresome to be around or a debbie downer.  I've certainly noticed friends drift away.  I have a hard time smiling and responding, "fine' when people ask how we are.

I'm hoping that in the long run I'll find my gems.  Those songs that in the moment I wish I could fast forward may become the stories that define the kids, our family, and, ultimately, me in a wonderful way. Heck, some of my favorite songs started out on the b-side.


  1. I think that the whole album approach is a great way to look at life. What a shame to think of fast-forwarding whenever things aren't precisely to our liking! We'd miss so much unexpected joy. Hang in there!

  2. I remember the first time I made a mix tape for myself of favorite things off my albums and my dad was appalled. He said we weren't meant to listen to one hit after another. There had to be balance with some crap, apparently, and we went back and forth about that concept for quite a bit.

    But I came to see what he meant better when I related it to performing things. I remember rehearsing The Planets by Holst over and over and over, and Jupiter is the most fun and Mars is the most exciting, and then there is Saturn. The full title of that movement is "Saturn, Bringer of Old Age" and it drags along.... But after dozens of hearings from the inside of the piece I came to believe it may be the best of all the planets in that work.

    But yes, reality requires context, good and bad both. Otherwise there is no hope of learning from either.

    1. Writing at work right now...just you tubed the planets for background music...loving it, thanks!!

  3. A great analogy. I am also a whole album purchaser. A band I like recently released three albums and I bought all three without hearing them. Just because that's what you do -- you keep supporting the bands you like and take chances. I did end up dropping one song from album because it gave me a headache :-)

    But you need the whole album. There's an arc. It tells a story. It would be like reading one chapter in the middle of a book and assuming you really understood the whole text.

  4. I've been lurking for awhile off and on but finally delurking to say I LOVE this post. I like to immerse myself in albums, one song leading into the other. Listening to the last song on the album without having heard the other songs before it is not the same experience. Just as I can't evaluate my life by isolating myself to just one joy or regret or experience.

    This also reminds me of something I wanted to ask after your 11-things post- which is your favorite Mumford & Sons album? I haven't been buying much music in the last few years but what I've heard of M&S makes me think I need to start again :-)

    1. Thanks so much for de-lurking and the kind compliment. I'd have to say I love both of the M&S albums, but if you are a newbie, I'd start with the first. Trust me, though, after a few listens you'll want to go get their live album and Babel, their latest. Enjoy!

  5. I've let this post simmer and stew in my head and heart for quite awhile. It is a wonderful analogy and I completely agree with you. First off, iTunes has completely changed the way we listen to music. Long ago I used to say that The Counting Crows' "August and Everything After" was the only album I had ever purchased that I liked pretty much all the songs on. Now we don't have to slog through the "bad" songs to get to the "good" ones.

    You're absolutely right, by slogging through, though, you find those hidden gems, those treasures that speak to your soul. I still buy entire albums (I can't get enough of M&S of late and actually, I've been on an Avett Brothers kick as well--the two groups go together quite nicely), and search out those undiscovered beauties.

    You have those in your life and you will find them when you least expect it (such as in E's spontaneous hug of joy--still sniffling over that one!), and they're all the more delightful for the randomness of it all.