The Year In Rearview

So, it’s New Years Eve again. It’s weird, getting so worked up about something that happens relatively often. Personally, this year is different. I guess the goalposts have shifted somewhat in the last twelve months. It’s been a strange year, the strangest. The best and the worst, the brightest and the most difficult. Every horizon has expanded and with that has come many new questions and many new responsibilities. Music, more than ever, has been with me every step of the way. It’s been integral in every aspect of my life this year, defining months and moments, guiding and challenging me.

Every memory I have of this year comes with it’s own soundtrack, even if that memory is nothing but an abstract sense of a feeling, without words, actions or consequences. I’ve met so many new people this year and each handshake or tip of a glass had a song in the background, particular times with friends stick in my brain that each have their own tunes and there have been private moments that could not resonate like they do without the chords that underpinned them.

This mixtape is about all that, the ups and downs in all their glory. There are songs on here I’ve heard only recently that have instantly caught my ear and there are others that have lived with me throughout the year. I came late to Laura Marling but that has not lessened the impact she’s made, single-handedly restoring my faith in the folk song. A year ago I was listening to Noah & The Whale on a very long bus trip in the snow, two nights ago I made that same trip with Laura. They’re singing about the same things but there’s a difference in tone that is startling and it’s that difference that makes her great. I can’t put my finger on it, but I don’t really want to. The National have long been a favourite band of mine and High Violet didn’t disappoint. I picked Little Faith because it took a while to click with me but I’ll never forget the moment it did. James Blake crept up on me, with odd, overheard snippets slowly turning to obsession. Women are a new find, but I can’t wait to get to know them better. ‘Penal Colony’ stunned me on first listen and it continues to grow on me.

I’m not going to go through them all, but I’ll just say I saved the best for last. There has been no song this year, or probably any year, that has affected me in the way that ‘Does Not Suffice’ has. The song is the end of a journey; it takes two hours to get to. It’s built upon everything that precedes it, the ultimate conclusion, the end of the road. It’s made me cry more often than I’d like to admit. I’ve read the lyrics over and over again, shocked by the candidness, the honesty, the grace and the power contained within them. I’ve understood every word, lived and breathed them, worn them as a badge, used them as a crutch and as a place to hide. The music is perfect, totally capturing the bleakness of the story, the pain and heartbreak of what’s happening, and seamlessly giving rise to that last bittersweet smile, the moment when words no longer suffice, “Laaa La La La La Laaa…”. You have to smile, what else can you do?

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