I’m trying to be bored and brilliant on the train, but I made this playlist I called, “The Albums: A Life,” and ever since I never don’t want to be listening to it. It’s full of surprises, which is a delightful quality in something you made yourself. I made it by porting all of my best-of album lists from the past five years to a new playlist and then adding individual albums that I have played to death during some season of my past. Every song that pops up on it can immediately be identified, not only by the album it belongs to, but immediate visual associations connected to where and with whom I used to listen to it. I’m still adding albums to it every day.
Let me demonstrate by shuffling it right now and listing the first five songs.
“Lump Street” from Frightened Rabbit’s Painting of A Panic Attack. I’m walking down Chicago Avenue to my still-new job at Fourth Presbyterian Church, texting Marci and Landon about the band we all love.
“My Name Is Liar” from Highasakite’s Camp Echo. Early summer in Chicago, strolling the Gold Coast, where I’m living for the final two months before Meredith and Laura join me to begin the next chapter of our life.
“Note To Self” from Modern Baseball’s Holy Ghost. The commute to Fourth again, but this time past the Starbucks on State and Pearson on an unseasonably warm Autumn day, nodding again to the guy on the corner with a cardboard sign.
“Trouble” from Hey Marseilles’ self-titled 2016 album that came out in March, right after I moved here. I’m in two places with this one: the empty Rogers Park condo where I’m spending my first Windy City winter alone. There’s an empty Giordano’s box on the counter. I’m also on the 147 bus turning onto Lakeshore Drive on a grey, rainy morning, anticipating the view of the lake from my warm perch in the back corner.
“Rabid Animal” from Lake Street Dive’s Bad Self Portrait. Finally something from California. I’m listening to this in the sunny living room of our Pomona condo while Laura plays upstairs. Meredith is at work. I’m texting Landon about it, who can’t get into the “Bonnie Raitt” feel of it, as I Google video of the band’s appearance on Colbert.
I wish something older would have come up in the shuffle, like one of the tracks from Erasure’s Pop! that makes me think of Jared Hamilton and Andy Patterson’s basement dorm room at Sterling College or Day At The Beach by Sonia Dada, which takes me back to the streets of Aurora the first summer home from college, driving around with Chip, trying to outdo one another with music we’ve discovered since we both moved away. He’s claiming Sonia Dada, but I was into their first album while we were still in high school. It’s such a Chip move.
Can you see now why I can’t just sit on the train and not listen to my new/old compilation? It’s a nostalgic season, for some reason.