The first mix of the new millennium. No wait, that technically started in 2001! OK, so… the first mix of the 2000s, a decade that would radically alter my outlook on life, and accordingly, my taste in music.
In with the New:
Weird Al Yankovic
Out with the Old:
It Was Worth a Try:
Listen on Spotify:
January 1, 2000 came and went, and the world was just fine. In some ways, it felt like a new lease on life – I realized that it had been silly and superstitious of me to believe anything bad would happen due to Y2K. I left Fresno on January 2nd and took Amtrak back to Pasadena, to be back at work by the 3rd. I remember reading a book while on that train, trying to understand Sharon’s views better by exploring the more “liberal” side of Christianity. It was a time when I felt free to really ask myself what I believed just because it was tradition, and what I believed because it really resonated within me as being true. Perhaps I went a bit too far overboard in that search, but it helped me to get to a point of not believing something just because a person in authority over me said so.
Where in the world is this?
1) “Don’t Underestimate”, Pete Stewart (Pete Stewart, 1999)
I wasn’t out of the woods yet in terms of the depression and insecurity that I was feeling, but I wanted to start 2000 off with some songs that represented a feeling of victory, and gratitude that I had made it through to the other side and life would still go on. I chose this song because it was a joyous, crunchy, rocking celebration that “Love’s got me feeling I can fly”.
2) “Fade Away”, Supertones (Chase the Sun, 1999)
I tried to do some funky trick with the recording to tape that made it seem like the outro of “Don’t Underestimate” bled into the fade-in for this song, but it didn’t quite work, so in the redo on CD, I just faded out to a clean break and then back in at the beginning of track 2. (One day I’ll figure out the whole bleeding thing.) This is a continuation of the “victorious” mood – as the chorus proclaimed – “I’m so much stronger than I was just yesterday. I can see clearly now, Lord, make this dimness fade away.” That guitar riffs in this song always got me pumped up and in a good mood.
3) “Say Now that You’re Sorry”, Plankeye (Relocation, 1999)
This song, by a retooled version of Plankeye with a different lead singer (after the abrupt departure of their old one), represents an apology that I felt but never expressed. The previous fall, I had a falling out with Elizabeth, an IV staffer who was one of my housemates at the time, over her perceived need for me to not cling to the fellowship after having graduated. I responded with some rather harsh and cynical words to her, and basically avoided her after that. January was a chance to “start fresh”, so I actually wrote her this long letter expressing my apology, but for whatever reason, I never got around to sending it to her. The whole thing kind of ended up being forgotten – she didn’t seem to worry about it when she saw me around, and I realized I was no longer angry with her. Still, I should have been man enough to actually express an apology.
4) “It’s All About the Pentiums”, Weird Al Yankovic (Running with Scissors, 1999)
Strange as it may sound, this Weird Al album was the first mainstream CD I had ever owned. Sharon’s brother James had played some amusing Weird Al songs for us on his computer when we had visited her family over Thanksgiving, so Sharon remembered that I had enjoyed those songs, and bought me the album for Christmas. This was the most hilarious song on the album – a Puff Daddy parody involving bragging about how your computer’s way better than someone else’s. It was all too fitting for someone on my career path, so it’s here as a tribute to the job that I was getting used and growing to love.
5) “Best Kept Secret”, Skillet (Invincible, 2000)
Cheesy song, but I was really looking forward to their new album – the first one with Korey signed on as their keyboard player. Tim and Krista and I actually went all the way down to Oceanside (near San Diego) to see them play live not long after the album came out. It was an awesome show, much better than the “worship tour” they had done the previous year.
6) “Mighty Good Leader”, Audio Adrenaline (Underdog, 1999)
Not much depth to this one. It was a highly addictive track from Underdog that was currently making the rounds on Christian radio. That’s about it.
7) “What Good”, Third Day (Time, 1999)
I thought this song was one of Time‘s true highlights, with its carnival sounds and its awesome guitar breakdown and its question (however grammatically incorrect) of what good it is for a man to gain the world and forfeit his soul. This was something that I needed to remember, now that I had a job that paid me well and I could “provide for myself”. A lot of the higher-ups around me seemed to have all this advice on how I could save money and retire early and whatever if I was ambitious and jockeyed around a bit career-wise. To me, while I enjoyed the job, it was just something to bring in a paycheck while the real focus of my life was community and restoring my relationship with God – values that money can’t really do much for. I wasn’t going to sacrifice those things by devoting my hours to working overtime or whatever to prove that I was an overachiever. Fortunately, I never felt a ton of pressure to do that – the attitude at my workplace seems to generally be that if you’re constantly working overtime, more people need to be hired to share the workload, and they don’t want you working extra hours for a prolonged period of time because they feel it’ll cut into your productivity. That helps morale, for workers to feel like they can have a life outside of the office, and it makes it easier for those with values other than money to pursue those values.
8) “Goodbye, Goodnight”, Jars of Clay (If I Left the Zoo, 1999)
Now that Y2K was over and done with, I could put a song like this one on my mix tape to mock it. Jars of Clay wrote this one after being amused by the irony of a string quartet to comfort passengers evacuating the sinking Titanic. Sometimes our response to the hysteria is just all wrong.
9) “Something More (Augustine’s Confession)”, Switchfoot (New Way to Be Human, 1999)
“There’s gotta be something more than what I’m living for”, I’m crying out to you. This odd, mechanical song with its Chinese flute intro was an instant favorite for me, and I definitely identified with its question. I had gone from having a full, anything-can-happen, adventure of a life in college to things being fairly routine as I caught the bus to and from work (when I stayed over with Oxy friends in Eagle Rock) or hitched rides early on cold winter mornings with my Mom (who I had gone back to living with after having to leave the Armadale house at the end of 1999). I wanted my life to still have that sense of being dynamic; to not just settle for the routine.
10) “Reason”, LaRue (LaRue, 1999)
This was the song that got me hooked on LaRue, though my fandom was short-lived because the CD wasn’t very good. I had heard snippets of this song as Sharon and I drove around Fresno while I had been up there for New Year’s, and I remembered it being a comfort on New Year’s Eve when I was at the height of nervousness over what might happen – “And I’m so afraid, then I remember the price You paid”. Really a simplistic song, but I was captivated by it when I finally got to hear it in full, when Phillips and Natalie’s voices overlapped, singing the chorus and the verse simultaneously at the end. We still had Z Music Television at my Mom’s house at that point (that was before the channel went off the air and before she got rid of her cable subscription), so I remembered seeing the video and thinking, “Gee, Natalie’s really cute – like a young Catherine Zeta-Jones or something”. Yeah, stupid reason to buy a CD.
11) “Writhe for Hearing”, Chasing Furies (With Abandon, 1999)
This song was a frothy musical soup full of dissonance, desperation, guitar riffage, and weird noises. I was in love with Chasing Furies like no other band (at least, none that only had one CD out), so I was thrilled that Krista thought to buy me a copy of their CD for my birthday. The band kind of helped get me used to a more abstract way of looking at music and songwriting.
12) “Do Ya”, Michelle Tumes (Center of My Universe, 2000)
Right on time near Valentine’s Day, Michelle finally put out a second CD. I was quite amused that she chose to purposefully do an upbeat, aggressive pop song like this, just to go against her “ethereal” image. It was an instant favorite for me and Sharon because of it’s “I’m imperfect, but you still seem to love me” theme. She actually heard it on mainstream radio while she was in New Mexico during the summer of that year, which was a real surprise. Too bad that the song became better known later on as a hit for Jump5. *cringe*
13) “All That’s Left”, Margaret Becker (What Kind of Love, 1999)
I was numb to a lot of things that winter. My grandmother, on my Mom’s side, passed away, and I wasn’t sure how to feel about it when I went to her funeral. Sharon and I were having various problems and she dropped the bombshell that she was going to apply for RA (Resident Advisor, the people who basically act as dorm supervisors and manage activities and stuff for the students in a particular dorm) the next year, which meant she’d have a lot less time for me if she got the position. I felt like I was supposed to be coming out into a more abundant life in this new year, and yet so much stuff was still weighing me down. This disco-styled song from Margaret Becker’s surprisingly delicate album (which I got for my birthday that year) reminded me that sometimes it’s to our advantage to be emptied of all the excess stuff, even if it means a total breakdown and reset of our values so that God can become the #1 priority again. “I’ll be glad at the end of the exchange if You are all that’s left in me.”
14) “Hey You It’s Me”, Michael W. Smith (This Is Your Time, 1999)
Wow, side one was almost entirely upbeat songs, no ballads whatsoever except for maybe “Reason”. Funny how that worked out. I loved the cascading piano in this song and the lyrics about two spouses, exhausted from all of the things on their to-do lists, finding time to reconnect despite all of the busy-ness. This was my greatest wish for me and Sharon – we were definitely letting our disparate lives get the best of us at times, which was really hard for me.
The winter of 2000 felt like it would never end. Work was going well enough, but getting to and from work was a pain. I took the bus and saw this same view of Garfield Avenue, City Hall (now used as Pawnee City Hall in the sitcom “Parks and Recreation”), the Courthouse, and the Public Library in Pasadena as I walked from the bus stop to work every single day. It grew tedious, and I spent my days cooped up in a cubicle indoors, starting to grow frustrated with my lack of mobility, and feeling somewhat distant from a lot of my friends. That was when depression set in. All of the stress from the previous year had carried over, and even though I had nothing urgent to be worried about at this point, I still felt like a desperate, lost soul during this time.
Where in the world is this?
1) “Heaven”, Delirious? (Mezzamorphis, 1999)
“Heaven is my home, and there’ll be no shame to bear.” I was still obsessed with that idea of the afterlife, wanting to know that mine was secure. This song was a good reminder that the battle wasn’t mine to win, and that despite some of the embarrassing sins I committed during that time of my life, the price had already been paid. There was no jeopardizing my status in God’s eyes – this was not based on how bad my conscience felt on any given day.
2) “Rollercoaster”, Believable Picnic (Welcome to the Future, 1999)
Something in me still wasn’t quite right, emotionally speaking, in those days. It wasn’t like life threw me a ton of hard curveballs – I was pretty secure in my job and I knew how to get by from day to day, but I still wasn’t quite accepting that this was the beginning of my adult life and this was how I would spent the majority of it from here until retirement – working 40 hours for an honest wage. It had its ups and downs, its days where I was confident and felt like I knew what I was doing, and its other days where 8 hours felt like 4 too many, and as the sun set outside my window and I worried about having to catch the bus in the dark and how I’d manage to find friends to spend time with and avoid being lonely just for that one night, it all became a bit of a rollercoaster ride. This song, another random find on a 7Ball sampler, summed those feelings up perfectly. (Incidentally, the lead singer of this obscure band was Jade Hanson, the brother of Joel Hanson from PfR.)
3) “Peace of God”, The Insyderz (Skalleluia Too!, 1999)
I didn’t even know what the original Hillsongs version of this one sounded like, but I loved the rolling, messy drums and guitars and the peppy horns of this version. Tim put it on a mix that he made for himself of his favorite wall-to-wall rock songs, and I followed suit by putting it on my mix, because it was tons o’ fun.
4) “Famous Last Words”, Jars of Clay (If I Left the Zoo, 1999)
And now we flip back to feelings of regret and despair! Funny how bi-polar some of these mixes were. “Famous last words” was actually one of Sharon’s catch-phrases that she would use in situations where someone had previously proclaimed how someone was gonna be, or that they’d never be caught dead doing something, or some ultimatum like that, and of course fate turned out to have the last laugh. But I also related to the song and its expression of a person who needed to get a confession off of his or her chest before it was too late to do so. It was all too easy for me to get caught up in my moodiness and miss opportunities to let the people around me, Sharon in particular, know that they were loved. I wasted a lot of time with my pity parties in the hopes of someone “rescuing” me.
5) “Worship Song”, Pete Stewart (Pete Stewart, 1999)
This a simple, acoustic song that Tim, who was in the process of learning to play guitar so that he could lead worship during some of the prayer meetings that he was hosting in the campus’s chapel, figured out how to play. I didn’t know how to play at the time, so I was excited to have someone pick up a song from a CD I had that I felt would work well as part of a worship service, and to be able to sing along as they played it. Some of the magic of that is gone now that I can do this myself instead of hoping someone else learns a song, but I still feel that same sense of joy, just because it’s music I love, when I hear a new worship song in church that I already knew from a CD.
6) “Take You at Your Word”, Avalon (In a Different Light, 1999)
I loved Avalon back when they weren’t afraid to be all Euro-techo-poppy. This song addressed the trust issue that I was having with God – my worry that the depressed feeling I was constantly dealing with somehow reflected a loss of God’s favor. Could I learn to trust that God had a plan which I couldn’t mess up? Or was I going to live my life as if God was somehow out to get me?
7) “I Won’t Be Persuaded”, Margaret Becker (What Kind of Love, 1999)
This long, gentle ballad was a perfect reminder to me during that difficult winter, its delicate acoustics trickling down like falling snowflakes. Difficult trials and periods where one feels distant from God were sometimes tests. And sometimes it simply took the resolve to stand up and say, “No matter how much I feel like what I’m going through is killing my spirit, I won’t give up on the God I believe in.” In my mind, I knew this, but sometimes it helped to have thoughtfully written songs on the subject, just as a string around my finger to make sure I didn’t forget. Looking back, I can see that this period of my life was a process of God teaching me not to let my faith be based on my feelings.
8) “Let That Be Enough”, Switchfoot (New Way to Be Human, 1999)
Jon Foreman wrote this simple song on the eve of his twenty-second birthday, which happened to fall on a Thursday, as did my twenty-second birthday that year. I had similar feelings of being directionless during that time, so the song applied perfectly. “Let me know that You love me. Let that be enough.” What else was I looking for, a magical song or a perfect sunny day to somehow explain and fix everything?
9) “Beautiful Sound”, Newsboys (Love Liberty Disco, 1999)
Despite Love Liberty Disco not being exactly endearing all the way through, I couldn’t get enough of this song, which is still one of my all-time favorites by the Newsboys. I felt that had some great insights about rediscovering God, about how we go through these phases where we forget what we strongly believed in, or we just don’t feel it. We kind of go on auto-pilot, and then one day there’s an epiphany that just smacks us in the head, and it’s like striking gold. anticipated that feeling – despite my depression, I figured that when I made it through this and came out on the other side, my faith would be strengthened for it, and the song that I would sing on that day would be an exhilarating one.
10) “Rest”, Skillet (Invincible, 2000)
Another worship song that Tim began to learn so that he could play it for us during prayer meetings. It was the perfect companion to “More Faithful” – both songs were beautiful, quiet breaks in the repertoire of what I considered to be a “hard” rock band at the time. Those prayer meetings were a peaceful time where I could just relax and sing those simple songs, and know that despite my worries, there were more peaceful days ahead.
11) “Higher”, Creed (Human Clay, 1999)
It’s funny to look back now and see how highly I thought of Creed back when I first discovered them. They played this song on David Letterman sometimes during the fall of ’99, and then my brother mentioned to me that he was interested in checking them out, so I got him the CD for Christmas and proceeded to borrow it whenever I could. I was elated that this song, which was seemingly about the hope of Heaven, was making huge waves on mainstream radio (though I later discovered it was about lucid dreaming – whatever, it just made me feel really danged awesome whenever I heard it). Back then, they were just barely starting to get huge, and I was enchanted to see them perform songs like this with smiles on their faces, not yet too bogged down by the celebrity machine. I had wondered what it would be like if a band with Christian themes in their lyrics managed to succeeded entirely independent of the “Christian music” world, and this was my answer (or at least, the best example I could see at the time). The intro to this one led quite beautifully out of the fade-out from “Rest”, so that’s why I buried a harder rock song so far back on Side Two.
12) “Forgiven”, Massivivid (Brightblur, 1999)
Massivivid was a good find. I dug up their album somewhere in the back of the local Christian bookstore and used a birthday gift certificate to buy it, and despite how dark and dense it was, it became one of my favorite pick-me-up albums during some of those long work days. This song went from a creepy whisper to a full-throated shout almost out of nowhere, and I just loved that contrast – so bummed out about sin and feeling so small, and then BOOM! A confident cry of forgiveness and a blunt reminder that there’s no need to wonder why or how God would choose to give us grace. I had to accept that I could still ask for something that I was finally coming to realize I had never earned for myself.
13) “Murlough Bay (live)”, Iona feat. the All Souls Orchestra (Woven Cord, 1999)
I had already put the studio version of this song on a mix the previous year, but the orchestra-laden version on Iona’s live album was so beautiful that I just had to go back for another helping. I deliberately chose to end this mix with a sense of peace and of being cradled in God’s mercy – that feeling used to be familiar to me, and it had come to be a distant and foreign concept, something I desperately wanted back. So there was a sense of rediscovery in hearing a new version of this song during the cold winter, one that I had come to identify with as my “solitude song” during a hot summer spent on a desert island. It could still be true for me, as much in this grey city as it had been in the peaceful green, gold, and blue of nature.
14) “Whisper Softly”, Chasing Furies (With Abandon, 1999)
“You are mine.” Those simple words were uttered by the rector at All Saints, a church Sharon liked to attend that I visited with her one Sunday in January, and for the rest of the day I had this song stuck in my head, a poetic and intimate reminder of God’s desire to be know by the ones He loves. I don’t even remember the theme of the sermon that day, just those three words. I kind of regarded this achingly gorgeous, delicately picked acoustic song as “reverse worship”, because instead of us singing about how great God was, God was reminding us of the intensity of His own desire – not need, but a genuine want – for our company. It had a medieval, fantasy-princess sort of feel to it, making me want to close my eyes and take a moment to slip away into a divinely romantic world of lilacs and lyres and garden paths and quiet time spent with the one who knew how best to reach me through these limited human words and analogies.