I’ve always been a fan of lists, especially end-of-the-year lists. When this time of the year comes around I often find myself reflecting and contemplating what has transpired since the first day of the year (which seems like yesterday).
Every year there are certain CD’s that become the soundtrack of my life. This year I have found myself prominently listening to the following 8 CD’s that have given me joy, have caused me to think, and take me back to specific places and times in a year when my life went through significant change.
In no particular order, here are the 8 CD’s that were the soundtrack for my life this year:
- John Mayer: Born and Raised. My first listen through I wasn’t sure I’d like it. But I gave it a chance, and by the third time through I was hooked. These songs show (perhaps for the first time) a maturity in Mayer’s thinking. He’s been through a great deal, learned some lessons, and wrote about them. These songs carried me through a transition from Wisconsin to Florida.
- Dave Barnes: Stories to Tell. Dave Barnes is one of my favorite singer-songwriters. Our son took me and my wife, Tammy, to see him in concert in Nashville a couple of years ago. It was a night, and a concert, I will never forget. Dave’s songs are the kind of songs with which one can sing along. And that’s a high compliment for a singer-songwriter. Dave Barnes tells a story and puts his finger on emotions well.
- Mat Kearney: Young Love. It’s no secret why Mat Kearney has become so popular. He is unique. His pop songs infused with a few creative lines of rap here and there are like nothing else on the market today. She Got the Honey and Young, Dumb, and In Love are two of my “happy place” songs of the year. I can’t listen to them without instantly finding myself in a better mood. I’m also honored to know Nathan, who plays guitar with Kearney when he’s on the road.
- Robby Earle: Lifted. This CD, by our son’s former roommate, is one of the things I love about music: it bursts with young exuberance. A close listen reveals thoughtful and creative production. The lyrics are beyond the years of the songwriter. I would listen to this CD every morning as I ran during the hot summer months of Florida. Though it’s not on a major record label, it’s truly one of my favorite listens of the year.
- Parachute: The Way It Was. Although this album technically came out in 2011, it’s just the kind of music I love. One song in particular was used on Milwaukee Brewers’ TV broadcasts during their 2011 playoff run, and I can’t hear the song without thinking of that great time. More than that, these are songs that make me want to turn up the volume, roll down the windows, and sing along at the top of my lungs.
- The Civil Wars: Barton Hollow. Another hold over from 2011, this album is unique because of the duo that makes up The Civil Wars. If the duo ever plays a concert near you, do not miss it. The talent and ability of these two is almost beyond belief (note: the second leg of their current tour has been canceled; here’s to hoping they will tour again). True proof that talent, good songwriting, and passion will go a long way toward a great (yes, truly great!) record.
- Charlie Peacock: No Man’s Land. I’ve been a Charlie Peacock fan for most of his career. It had been a goodly number of years since his last release, so I looked forward to this album with great anticipation. Although it is completely different from anything he has ever done, it was better than I could have ever hoped. The CD is infused with a cajun, and sometimes zydeco flavor. But the stories and metaphor that Peacock uses are those of master songwriter. Charlie Peacock goes back to his roots for a very rootsy record. It is not to be missed.
- Over the Rhine: Snow Angel. Although this CD was recorded back in 2006, I didn’t discover it until a couple of weeks ago. It was a featured album on the free music web site called Noisetrade (if you haven’t even been to that web site, do so immediately; it’s a great way to discover new, up and coming artists, as well as music from well known musicians…all for free…or a tip). This duo has crafted an album of Christmas songs that is far superior to all the tired old stuff you hear on those 24-hour Christmas radio stations. Download this album for some sophisticated Christmas music like no other. It’s creative in the best sense of the word.
What are your favorite CD’s, albums, or songs from 2012?