January 1, 2021. The beginning of a new year, hopefully a much brighter one for all of us. 2020 caused all of us to slow down, shut down, contemplate, and start over in many ways. As this new year begins, the world still awaits the real return of live music. It has appeared briefly in sparsely filled rooms, open air venues and even the drive-in theater. Even with those subtle early starts, we still have so much ahead of us to anticipate when the lights go up and the music starts again.
As I begin this year, I am starting my own musical journey, backward and then forward through the music of my lifetime and the sounds that launched and gave birth to “my” music many generations before. I have embraced the challenge and opportunity of listening to and documenting my thoughts on an album a day. My original plan was to commit to a one-year journey, but 365 days just didn’t fulfill my appetite to listen and learn to my satisfaction. Honestly, I’m not sure if I have enough days left to listen to everything I would want to include and enjoy, but to contain this objective in a manageable way, I will carry this forward through June 18, 2022, which for many who know me well, represents another major milestone in my life.
The basic goals of this mission: listen to new music that is blended in chronologically with the music I grew up with and am growing older with. To find the right mix of variety when building my list, I started with all of the major artists of my life and their primary catalog. I then added the Top 100 Greatest Albums of All Time as rated by Rolling Stone magazine, which they updated most recently in 2020. I also went through the rest of the Top 500, adding albums of significance and difference. Next, I added in someone’s Top 10 albums of all time by a variety of genres to include Hip Hop, Country, Blues, Punk, Reggae, Soul, Funk, Heavy Metal, Jazz, Folk, and Grunge. Even as these lists and selections began to overlap, I wanted to be sure I captured the sounds and feelings of the years passing by, so I added in the #1 selling album in America for each year from 1956-2020. In itself, this list tells us a lot about where we have been and how far the world has come in popular music.
With 534 days and 534 albums to work with, time and space on my list is precious. I left open ten slots for my son, another avid music lover, to fill with any choice that he believed would enrich my experience. I have left another ten slots open to be filled by the most compelling, unique, influential and impactful releases of 2021 and 2022. I have sorted all of these choices in chronological order to allow me to hear how one release influenced the next, and expanded on what came before it. I will listen to each one and share my thoughts as I hear it fresh in its entirety, through the dual approach of a new experience and in many cases, one I am deeply familiar with.
I am documenting this journey primarily for my own thoughts and learning, but welcome anyone along who cares to join in and listen along the way. One might call it a Lifetime-Plus of Music.. in fact that is what I did. My list is essentially complete, but I do reserve the right to add and delete as needed within my allotment to ensure I don’t look past a critical step along the way. On the first stop on my journey, I’m heading down to Mississippi…