I can’t help but state the obvious that the year is almost over and winter is almost here. And like many people, memorable periods of my life have become synonymous with certain songs; and the winter season is no different. Now I present to you a few of those tunes for your listening pleasure.
Diggin’ On You
I got my mom into TLC shortly before their second album “CrazySexyCool” dropped. Being such a great mom, she bought two copies of the cassette tape version (Walkmans!) – one for me and one for her. My copy usually stayed in the house while my mom’s stayed in her car. My Christmas break from school had started, and she and I spent a majority of the late afternoon and early evening doing some last minute shopping on the eve of the big day. On the way back home, my mom popped in the aforementioned tape and for the next twenty minutes or so we sung along with “Diggin’ On You”; rewinding the tape every time the song came to an end to start all over again. It was the perfect way to end a rather hectic day.
Similar to many kids who hear songs way beyond their age and comprehension, Clarence Carter’s “Strokin’” was one of the first kinks in my innocence armor (it also didn’t help that the song had a resurgence in mainstream media around the early 1990s, making it a radio favorite and allowing me to hear it on a frequent basis). Week after week I’d hear the rather hilarious song; learning all of the words. One day, my dad was allowed to bring me to his job. When my dad and his co-workers/friends gathered for lunch and turned on the radio, “Strokin’” started blaring. It was my time to shine – show them what I learned. I danced and sung the entire song to the delight of everyone (of course it was clean as the song could be). Yes, “Strokin’” is a terrible song for a kid; but it’s undeniably fun for everyone else.
The final months of 2007 felt like the equivalent of fighting Mike Tyson in 1988. Every time I thought I caught my breath after a gut shot, something else happened. What felt like the knockout left hook was the somewhat surprising dumping of yours truly at the hands (or more appropriately, mouth) of my then girlfriend. Not long after our relationship came to a close, I finally gave Pearl Jam’s “Binaural” a listen. The highly under-appreciated and underrated album closes with one of the most haunting songs in the band’s catalogue. Even more profound was the fact I heard it for the first time after I had parted ways with so many things in my life – from relationships, friends, family members, and freedom to a certain extent. “Parting Ways” was the unknown anthem of my last three years (2004-2007) until that day I listened to “Binaural”.
This is Twice Now
In truth, Lydia’s “Illuminate” is my “winter” album. I honestly can’t remember how I heard something from the record released a year before my ears were graced with its presence, but upon hearing it, I was instantly taken aback. The majestic sounds were countered by lyrics brooding, sarcastic, poignant and, at times, rather funny. It’s as hard to put into words what “Illuminate” is (other than a fantastic album) as it is to pick one song for this list. I spent a majority of the 2009-2010 winter season listening to the album on rotation and still get chills during certain songs, specifically thanks to the opening track. Even better is to this day I haven’t decided what the song is really about and how it relates to me.