Monday, November 16, 2009

Music in the Key of Life

I recently came across a mix tape I made in 1999, which was aptly named "Welcome to Sorryville." The title was borrowed from the opening lines of Chris Knight's "It Ain't Easy Being Me," which went something like this:

"There oughta be a town somewhere named for how I feel. Yeah, I could be the mayor down there and say 'Welcome to Sorryville.' It wouldn't be on a map nowhere, you might say that it don't exist. But, if you make enough wrong turns, it'd be hard to miss."

In addition to the title track, that mix included songs such as "Everything is Wrong" (Gigolo Aunts), "My Old Friend the Blues" (Steve Earle), "Desperate Ain't Lonely" (Whiskeytown), "There is No Hell Like the Hell on This Earth" (Scud Mountain Boys), "Dying on the Vine" (The Jayhawks), and "Over the Cliff" (Old 97's). You get the theme, right?

Back in those days, when I was still relatively new to the Boston area, el-squared and I were frequenters of the Cambridge music scene. We virtually had the exact same taste, and often talked about the mood of the type of music we listened to. Depressing is the obvious word that comes to mind, particularly back then, when alt-country was our main thing and much of what was on our respective playlists tackled the subject of heartbreak.

After he met, and became happily involved with, the woman who is now his wife of ten years, he seemed to be of the opinion that he could no longer really relate to that sort of music. I didn't necessarily agree that people's life circumstances preclude them from empathizing with sentiments they've felt before. But, I do agree that one's current perspective can have a major impact on the way he or she feels about music. Personally, I know a lot has to do with whether or not I'm "feeling it." In fact, this concept applies more to shows, especially now that I'm a little long in the tooth. If I'm not in the mood, it just isn't happening for me.

But, now that I'm nearing the completion of the rare calendar year during which I've actually been in a relationship for the entire annum, I'm wondering if my year-end review of the albums I've really enjoyed this year will confirm my friend's theory or not. I've already said that 2009 didn't really measure up in comparison to prior years. Could it possibly be because I'm still in the process of making a transition, and that I wasn't really seeking out the right music that properly fit my mood this year?

I'm not sure that I really need to defend myself here, but the aforementioned mix did include a few songs that had a somewhat hopeful tone. Idaho's "Alive Again" and The Byrds' "I Trust" are a couple examples of that, although both of those songs do kind of imply getting beyond more difficult times. Anyway, not really being conscious of this angle during the year means I'm going to have to work my way through my 2009 catalog before passing judgment on whether or not my musical mood has been getting brighter.

Maybe some of you can let me know what you think after comparing this year's compilation to those from the past. I have a feeling there won't be a noticeable difference, but I'll let you decide for yourself if you're so inclined.


  1. I can't wait to see your compilation. Aside from AA Bondy, who is sad, but introduced to me by FL, I also would like to go back in time and take a listen to what I was listening to in different stages of my life. It will be interesting indeed. Thanks for the interesting suggestion and hope you had a great holiday.

  2. Thanks KumoD. I'm looking forward to the compiling part. Glad you're in one of the happier stages too.

  3. Don't worry Chuck, though you may find yourself enjoying more silly love songs than you ever did before, a love of depressing music never leaves you, even once you're happily married! :)

  4. That's good to know, Sara. Thanks for the reassurance. I was getting a little concerned.