Wednesday, June 18, 2008

365 Albums - The Experiment

So I got a strong craving to listen to "Round Here" by Counting Crows this week. I couldn't tell you why, but I really wanted to. I dusted off my August and Everything After CD, and was surprised by how good I forgot the entire album was.

I do that a lot. I'll listen to an album over and over for up to several years, and then forget about it. It will sit on my shelf, unappreciated.

Everyone, it seems to me, does this to a certain extent. They "outgrow" certain music, or their tastes change, or new favorite albums overshadow past favorite albums. And sometimes, people just get in musical ruts. They listen to the same 15-20 albums over and over for the most part, with new stuff shuffling in and out every once in a while.

Note that I have not fully transitioned into the "iPod age," where you can download songs and mix them however you like, rather than entire albums. For me, something gets lost in the experience. I mean yeah, I was all about mixtapes back in the day and enjoy mixed CDs today, but there's still something about an album start to finish that helps create the experience. Context, man. Context. The other trap is just having all the hits downloaded and missing out on some unknown gems.

Anyway, my re-discovery of August and Everything After coupled with my realization of my own rut brought a question to my mind: what else have I forgotten, or never experienced, because of this rut?

Which leads me to my next crazy scheme.

For the next 365 days, I will listen to an entire album a day. Some stuff on my shelf I've neglected, and new stuff I've never heard. Some stuff I've always been curious about, some stuff I didn't want to give a chance to begin with. Some stuff I've only read about in Relix magazine, some stuff I missed out on during my Christian music phase. Some new stuff, some really really old stuff. Some stuff I forgot I had and some stuff I wonder why I have.

365 albums over the next year.

It'll involve a lot of trips to the public library and raiding friends' collections.

I think there'll be some stories to tell along the way, not just about the particular albums, but also in that way that music has about conjuring emotions and past memories and invites reflection and reaction. In other words, I think this will be as much a spiritual journey as it will be a musical one.

I'll blog my weekly selections, and any stories that come up with them.

In conjunction with this, I have to do one other thing.

Since I'll be blogging this little experiment, that means that the end of an era is approaching.

We will say goodbye to the weekly Pop Culture Roundup. After 3 1/2 years of it, it was probably time for a change anyway. It never seemed to be a particularly popular feature. But, of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't still do my year-end roundup.

I figure that the fun will start this Sunday.

P.S. I'm open to recommendations, too. And I'll frequently ask for them throughout this thing.