Thursday, March 10, 2011

6 years in 18 discs

Today's soundtrack:
Q on CBC Radio One

In the ongoing effort to reduce how much we're moving to Scotland, I've spent the past day digitizing all the music we own. The vast majority of our CDs are about to find themselves unceremoniously dumped at a local used CD shop for a pittance. There are some CDs, however, that I cannot bear to part with, even though I've already ripped them onto my computer. It's the memory of opening that particular CD case for the first time and flipping through the liner notes. The well-constructed artwork that accompanies the music, the live albums from the concerts you attended.

It goes without saying that my entire Radiohead selection is making the move. I simply refuse to part with a single disc. The Iron Lung EP I found at the used record store at Country Club Mall. The Airbag EP that I may or may not have skipped Math class to buy. I still remember the first time I heard "There There", sitting in our Florence apartment, drinking cheap rotgut chianti and eating gelato out of the carton.

Deciding on the rest of the CDs was more difficult. I was shocked when I tossed my Cranberries into the "to be sold" pile. Nine Inch Nails, U2, Pink Floyd, and Our Lady Peace didn't make the cut. So what did? And why?

Wide Mouth Mason's self-titled debut (1997): When I wasn't listening to Radiohead, this album was in high rotation. When they played at Malmenage, my sister and I were in the front row, singing along to every song. I was too chicken to ask for anything more than an autograph. My sister, on the other hand, got a hug.

54-40's Heavy Mellow (1999): It's impossible to grow up on the West Coast and not know 54-40. This live album is actually from their tour in 1998. I was at their Nanaimo show.

The Smashing Pumpkins's Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995): Because I was a teenager in the '90s and reading Hamlet only does so much for angst. I saw them years later at Summersault. Even though Corgan's not much of a stage presence, hearing "1979" live was like nothing I've since experienced.

Matthew Good Band's Underdogs (1997) and Beautiful Midnight (1999): Beyond having seen them live during the supporting tour for Beautiful Midnight, these albums are completely entwined with my last three years of high school.

Sloan's Twice Removed (1994) and One Chord to Another (1996): Part of the East Coast Explosion. Although I still regret not seeing them live, I doubt I could hear "I Can Feel It" without becoming a puddle.

Joni Mitchell's Hits (1996): An important part of the Folk phrase of my life as an undergrad.

Alanis Morissette's Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (1998): In my opinion, her best album. Nothing before or after hits on this level of confessional honesty. Just what a hormonal 16-year old needs.

Carole King's Tapestry (1977): When I was working at Stokes at Woodgrove, this album was the soundtrack to nearly every day.

Manic Street Preachers' This is my Truth Tell me Yours (1998): My then-boyfriend was a real anglophile, which is how I came to know the Manic Street Preachers. Have adored them ever since, although this is the only album of theirs I refuse to part with.

Stereophonics' Word Gets Around (1997) and Performance and Cocktails (1999): I saw them live when they were touring in support of Our Lady Peace. The drummer kept trying to flip his drumstick in the air and catch it, unsuccessfully. Folks on the other side of the stadium had a giant Wales flag and the energy was far and away better than what Our Lady Peace brought to the stage.

The Verve's Urban Hymns (1997): Although it captures those final, fraught years of high school, this album always resonated as something deeper than the other British music floating around my collection (I'm looking at you, Oasis).

Neil Finn's Try Whistling This (1998): I couldn't point out Crowded House if my life depended on it, you understand. However, this album got me out of a tight spot one night as it allowed me to prove that even though I was on the wrong side of 30, at least I knew good music.

Arcade Fire's Funeral (2004) and Neon Bible (2006): Answering the age-old question of "who is Arcade Fire?"

Kid Koala's Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (2000): The soundtrack to my first two years of undergrad. Nothing gets me giggling like "Like Irregular Chickens".

Aside from Arcade Fire, the majority of this music highlights 1994-2000, those angst-ridden teenage years. Which is why these albums are impossible to part with. Not only were they playing constantly in my room and on my discman, they are connected to nearly everything I did and felt during those 6 years. In all honesty, I should shove these discs in my nostalgia box, beside my yearbooks.

I never thought 18 CDs would sum up my teenage years.

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