Auricle: Music Discovery and Discourse

On my mind: Looking Back

In my annual music-listening cycle, January is the month of rediscovery.

Ever since I started work at Billboard, I've been involved in year-end Best Of lists (see the links at right to explore them). As a result, each November, I enter this six-week whirlwind of music analysis, researching albums from earlier in the year I haven't listened to yet, giving fresh spins to albums I picked up in the spring, double-checking copyright dates on the thing I've enjoyed.

Ordinarily, my music tastes aim forward anyway, so processing the year's releases is no great stretch for me. But each fall I enter a state of urgency, wanting to ensure that I have been exposed to all the heralded music of the past ten months.

By mid-December, it's time to compile the Best Of list, and spend a few weeks enjoying the year's best one last time. I spend a considerable amount of time reading other music critics' lists and hunting down albums they recommended that I had missed.

After Christmas, everything resets. The list is done and published, the albums explored. The labels slack off; few new albums of note are released between Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl. With the (fun) pressure gone, I start mining the depths of my music racks.

And without fail, I unearth some old gems. Never mind my Zeppelin CDs; I'm burrowing into forgotten territory, albums I loved that have been overlooked for a while. Like Sting's "The Soul Cages," which is wonderful background music for the office. And Godschild's "Everybody," the earthy, mystical debut by a long-gone local band trying to hit it big. And Tortoise's "Millions Now Living Will Never Die," with its great wandering base line, which has reminded me that I have several Tortoise releases to catch up on. And Liz Phair.

In a month or so I'll be diving headfirst into 2001 albums. But for now, I'm moving backward, straight past all of my 2000 bests (well, OK, I did listen to Trans Am this morning) and straight into the twentieth century, and and providing a little more proof for the next time I get asked, "Jeez, do you listen to all those CDs?"

January 25, 2001


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Auricle articles
Top Ten Albums of 2000
Top Ten Singles of 2000
The Now Playing list


Billboard Online Top Ten lists
1999, 1998, 1997, 1996

Album reviews on Billboard Online
Chore of Enchantment, Giant Sand
Hooray for Boobies, Bloodhound Gang
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Jesus Lizard, Jesus Lizard

History pieces, from Billboard's 20th Century A to Z
Heavy Metal
The Kinks
Progressive Rock


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Journal (personal muses)

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Copyright © 2001 David Wertheimer. All rights reserved.