Ah yes, the obligatory 2016 retrospective!
Something I’ve been doing for the past few years (including an attempt in 2015, I think, but I never published it…) is putting together a playlist of important songs to me throughout the year. Of particular note is 2014’s “Sixteen Songs to the Tune of 2014”, which I still think is a pretty solid playlist – but then again, I would think that.
Without further ado, here is a pain-stakingly crafted playlist loosely based around my life events of 2016, in chronological order:
2016 In Review (Spotify)
- Superman – Lazlo Bane
- Strange – Galaxie 500
- Hazey Jane II – Nick Drake
- Rebel Girl – Bikini Kill
- Another Girl, Another Planet – The Only Ones
- I Want Wind to Blow – The Microphones
- Romeo Had Juliette – Lou Reed
- These Days – Paul Westerberg
- Growin’ Up – Bruce Springsteen
- L.A. Woman – The Doors
- Left of the Dial – The Replacements
- What’d I Miss – Daveed Diggs and
The Original Broadway Cast of ‘Hamilton’
- Detroit or Buffalo – Barbara Keith
- Vincent O’Brien – M. Ward
- The Leanover – Life Without Buildings
Honorable mentions: The Waitress soundtrack (both the Sara Bareilles recording and Original Broadway Cast), the rest of the Hamilton soundtrack, the School of Rock Original Broadway Cast soundtrack, most things on Spotify Discover.
There’s (literally) so much I could say about each song and artist up there, but I will instead work in groups.
Tracks 1 & 2: Songs Played Late At Night
During my last semester at UMD I spent many late nights listening to music or watching ‘Scrubs’ at low volumes while doing homework. It’s true that most of my time spent chugging away at discrete mathematics problems and debugging my raytracer was exhausting at the time. However, I can’t help but look back at it fondly since it also produced an augmented reality game for Miranda’s birthday.
Tracks 3 – 5: Study Songs
These were songs listened to in hallways, lounges, late at night and early in the morning on the bus. These are the songs that I studied to. “Another Girl, Another Planet” was perhaps my best discovery this year as I later found out it was covered by the Replacements, whose overall influence on my year cannot be understated.
Tracks 7 – 9: Songs for Work
This summer I completed my internship with Concrete Software, which started in May of 2015. During the school year I was able to stay on with them as a remote part-time worker, which worked well with my irregular schedule. In particular I always made sure I had two or three mornings a week off of class so I could work at that time, and on those mornings my roommmates would be gone and I would make a few cups of coffee, crank up my stereo and get to work.
Track 10: A Song for Spring
While there is technically a “first day of spring,” in Duluth there is usually a First Day of Spring when the weather is perfect and all you want to do is go outside and do something. This year it happened to be Record Store Day, so my fellow music-loving friends Michael and Andy and I cruised through Duluth with the windows down and this song on the radio on our way to the Electric Fetus.
What do you get when you cross three tall Midwestern soon-to-be state school grads and a big white Malibu? Definitely not what this song is about, but I felt pretty cool anyway!
Track 11: A Special Song
Left of the Dial holds a special place in my heart, since it is far and away my favorite Replacements song. When I think of this song I think of driving my 2005 Chevy Malibu on early morning grocery runs in my pajamas, up 21st avenue on the way back from Miranda’s house, or harrowing late night drives in the snow.
Track 12: A Song for Many Miles of Travel
It’s hard to pick just one song from Hamilton. This musical, much like Miranda, has been present everywhere I went this year. From watching the Tony Awards in my bedroom to 30,000 feet up on the way to Madrid, to belting out the words on the way to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, my year can be summed up in Broadway musicals as well as in songs alone.
Much to our chagrin, soon after arriving in Seattle, I received a job offer from Amazon – in New York City, home of the paradigm-shifting musical itself.
Track 13: A Song for a Wandering Heart
I remember it almost clearly: I was listening to music for the first time after arriving in Seattle, making tacos for us to eat on our second-hand couch, and this song comes up. I don’t know what it was, but despite its obvious country ties, at that moment it spoke to me.
When I think of our Seattle apartment – a cheap Craigslist special from recent grads like ourselves – and its damp-but-fresh scent and sparse furishings, I think of this song. We were only there two (uncomfortably and unseasonably hot) months, but I never want to forget what it was like – I had moved far away before, but this time was more permanent, and this time I wasn’t alone. I think it’s safe to say that we learned a lot about ourselves and how to plan cross-country moves on the fly this summer.
Tracks 14 – 15: The Transition Songs
It took my a while to get acquainted with everything at my new, grown-up job at Shopbop in New York City. When I finally felt comfortable enough to start listening to music while I worked, I was introduced to these songs. The Leanover, in particular, is an excellent song and its parent album is equally magnificent.
But what else happened this year?
- Well, since you’re reading this, you know that I revamped my blog
- Familiar got many significant updates!
- I re-started Neverwinter Nights, and finally started playing Dragon Age: Inquisition
- I’ve seen six Broadway shows since I’ve come to New York, mostly due to the Broadway lottery
- While in Seattle, we went to Mount St. Helens, Olympic Forest National Park, and the San Juan Islands
- Moved to New York City! Sometimes I have to sit back and think about this one for it to sink in. Like many angsty Midwestern teenagers, this was literally my dream in high school. And now I’m here with my girlfriend, with a great job and a serviceable apartment, walking by Times Square every day on the way to work.
- Since arriving in Manhattan, I’ve left the island exactly three times (once to La Guardia Airport, once to Queens, and once to Staten Island). Still reconciling my high school deep desire to see the world and the fact that I am effectively confining myself to the 34 square miles of Manhattan for the time being (albeit a very interesting 34 square miles.)
- Saw the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
- Participated in Reddit Secret Santa for the third year in a row!