This is the time of year when the supporters of self-help, the boosters of betterment, the promoters of purposefulness, and everyone else who exalts in the ethics of uplift, start hymning the glories of making New Year’s resolutions. Oh, joy.
The general belief is that the start of a new calendar year affords a kind of spiritual and physical tabula rasa, a period of reflection, self-examination, and a chance to wipe the slate clean and start over. Simply create a list of your traits (personality- and otherwise) that are worthy and capable of being changed, and commence creating a better you.
That always sounds appealing, in general. But, specifically, what does it really entail? Not surprising, examples abound on the Web. For instance, some experts suggest a step-by-step method for breaking bad habits (and, presumably, learning new ones). While others believe that merely renaming the problem provides the solution. There are even online tools to help you manage your personal improvement regimen.
Self-reformation is not a new concept, by any stretch. Even the ancient Greek poet Hesiod wrote a book on the subject. Some people, though, seemingly go to great lengths to promote their home-spun remedies.
But don’t worry, dear reader, this is Scribbleskiff and that hog doesn’t wash here. This is a resolution-free zone. We know that no matter what you call them, New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken, and quickly — 20% of the makers abandon their lists by the first week, according to studies. Why bother, then? The only thing worth resolving to do at year’s start, it seems, is to remain firmly irresolute.
(Our patron saint, Issa, has something to say on the matter, of course: “there’s so little / I do it in my head … / New Year’s inventory.”)
No, at Scribbleskiff we prefer to extol the virtues of other, more wasteful pursuits. Navel-gazing, for example; it’s one of the things we do best. And thinking about how we think about ourselves at this time of year has allowed us to pursue one of our favorite pastimes: loafing and puzzling over and listening to music.
Right now, at a time when we are looking and moving forward, hoping to improve at least our music collections with some soon-to-be-releaseds — the new Vampire Weekend LP (which is streaming in full here), for instance, or the return of Starbucks’ Sweetheart CD compilation (here’s what we thought about last year’s version) — it’s amusing and gratifying to glance backward, to remember some highlights from a year that had many, musically speaking. Here then are some of the top 2009 musical moments at Scribbleskiff.
Be sure to click on the links below to sample the songs (open each as a new tab or window), and then follow the threads to find out where you can download them. Or you can listen to the playlist in its entirety at the Scribbleskiff page on the 8tracks Web site. Just click HERE, open as a new tab or window, and let the music play as you read along. Enjoy!
Best Musical “Adventures”
- Taking my 14-year-old daughter to her first “real concert,” as she called it, a triple billing of Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3, Andrew Bird, and The Decemberists. It was quite a night for both of us, for sure.
- Rediscovering my greatest musical power — the ability to play my vinyl LPs at will again (and again and again).
- Finding out that the best things in life — when it comes to music on the Internet, at least — are still free.
Some Songs We Played A Lot
- “Bang Bang (Feat. Adam Levine),” K’naan, Troubadour
- “Summertime Clothes,” Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavillion
- “1901,” Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
- “Ancestors,” Throw Me the Statue, Creaturesque
- “I and Love and You,” The Avett Brothers, I and Love and You
Some Songs That Made Us Laugh A Lot
- “Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh,” Say Hi, Oohs & Ahhs
- “The Ancient Commonsense of Things,” Bishop Allen, Grrr…
- “Carol Brown,” Flight of the Conchords, I Told You I Was Freaky
- “The Fear,” Lily Allen, It’s Not Me, It’s You
- “DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake,” Art Brut, Art Brut vs. Satan
Most Searched Song Title
- “Fireflies,” Owl City, Ocean Eyes. Although I thought this newcomer’s sparkly pop song made for perfect beach music, most people were falsely drawn by its cute Death Cab-like sound.
Most Popular Tags
- For no obvious reason, the tags, or search engine terms, that attracted the most traffic to this blog in ’09 were “indie summer songs.” (Go ahead, Google it and see what comes up.)
Most Seasonally Appropriate Record
- Embryonic, by The Flaming Lips, was the most Halloweenish album, from beginning to end, I have heard in many years. No tricking.
Songs We Liked But Didn’t Get to Write About
- “Kiss with a Fist,” Florence and the Machine, Lungs. Tough-lady love; it’s better than none.
- “Gimme Sympathy,” Metric, Fantasies. This is Blondie‘s most stylishly likable successor.
- “The River,” Akron/Family, Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free. A three-piece that makes big, lush, psych-pop music.
- “Neverends,” Vijay Kishore, 13 Rounds. Sounds like a more radio-friendly version of Thom Yorke.
- “Cloud Nine,” Ben Howard, These Waters EP. If Tracy Chapman and Ray LaMontagne had a baby…
So, there you have it, a few good reasons to believe that (sometimes, at least) looking backward is the best way to prepare for what lies ahead. As always, tell us what you think. Do you have any favorite musical moments from 2009? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
On a slightly different note: In addition to thinking about what we listen to around here, we have been thinking about how we do things here at Scribbleskiff and how we might do them differently. As a result, you may notice some changes in the coming weeks, such as shorter, more frequent postings, or articles on entirely new subjects, or by different writers, etc. Then again, you might not notice anything new at all because we may have decided to do things exactly the way we’ve always done them. Who knows. This is Scribbleskiff, after all, and we resolve to do whatever we want. We hope you like it that way.