Divad’s Soundtrack #94: September-October 2011

My fall soundtrack for 2011, while it starts off with some fun, riveting rockers, is actually one of my moodier playlists overall, especially in the second half. The two themes that seem to come up most often are water and death – which actually dovetail quite nicely and peacefully at the very end. Over and over when listening to this one, I end up picturing the colors blue and black, and images of raging rivers and stormy weather. It’s fitting for one of the darker and more challenging periods of my life, a time when I was trying to figure out what to let go of and let die, and what to hold on to for dear life. Somewhere deep down I knew this season wouldn’t last forever, that there would be a redemptive story to tell on the other end of it. But I had no way of telling how long the storm was gonna last – and a lot of these songs were like life rafts that I clung to while waiting for those dark clouds to clear and the light to begin shining through again.

In with the New:
Eleanor Friedberger (as a solo artist – appears earlier with The Fiery Furnaces)
The Hawk in Paris
Jeremy Larson
Ollabelle

Out with the Old:
Iona

Listen on Spotify:

Continue reading

Divad’s Soundtrack #93: July-August 2011

In the summer of 2011, we took a “Northern Rockies Trip”, with the goal being to visit three National Parks – Glacier in Montana, and Waterton Lakes and Banff in Alberta. The trip was inspired by some friends of Christine’s moving to Great Falls, Montana – we realized that was within driving distance of Glacier, and from there we could head across the border for a few days to see what the Alberta side had to offer. I have a pretty strong mental association between the scenery we saw on that trip and a lot of songs on this soundtrack that describe lakes or other bodies of water, or beautiful faraway places in general. But what I think I was really dealing with when I made this one was the concept of change and risk – knowing that I had grown complacent and something in my life needed to change, but being paralyzed by the fear of actually taking some chances and upsetting the routine.

In with the New:
Bon Iver
Gungor

Listen on Spotify:

Continue reading

Divad’s Soundtrack #92: May-June 2011

As I listen back to this collection of songs I put together at the beginning of summer 2011, I’m reminded of feeling scared but exhilarated at the same time. There are warm memories of good times spent with friends, and I also recall that I was more eager than usual to take risks and reinvent myself. In some ways, that was healthy and it prompted me to re-think old habits and broaden my horizons a bit. But also, I was acting out because I was unhappy with some of the patterns my life had fallen into. I might have overly relied on that group of friends to fill a growing emotional void in my life, and in some cases put a bit too much emphasis on living vicariously through their experiences, which led to some misunderstandings and eventual resentment. Several of these songs also reflect the anxiety I was feeling over a communication breakdown in my marriage, which was alleviated somewhat by our conscious decision to take a month-long break, as she spent a month visiting her parents while I stayed here and tried to work through how I was going to be a better, healthier version of myself when she returned. It was not an easy time by any stretch of the imagination. Yet my memories of how I was being pushed to grow and change by these events and these relationships, are largely good ones, and it helped that 2011 was such an awesome year for music, which meant there were a lot of captivating, relatable songs to help me work through it all.

In with the New:
The Civil Wars
Lykke Li

Out with the Old:
All the Day Holiday
Fiction Plane
Amy Grant

It Was Worth a Try:
Jonathan Coulton

Listen on Spotify:

Continue reading

Divad’s Soundtrack #91: March-April 2011

If I could pick a theme for this particular soundtrack, it would be “Dude, are you okay?” I think there was a very real sense of frustration and hopelessness that I was working through, consciously or subconsciously, as I selected these songs. I don’t mean that in the sense that they were a cryptic cry for help, where I’d wind up doing something awful to myself if nobody managed to put the clues together in time. It was more of a process of learning to identify how I felt about dreams that had been deferred for much longer than I expected, how to articulate what was really troubling me deep down instead of keeping it entirely to myself, and most importantly how to lean on the support system that I do believe God had placed around me at the time – my wife, my small group, my larger community within the church. This set of songs is all over the place (which is normal, given my eclectic tastes), but ultimately I like how they move from expression of fear and utter despair to an expression of trust in what God was trying to teach me and who had been placed in my life to help me learn it, and a feeling of certainty that none of us should have to go through dark times alone.

In with the New:
DeVotchKa

Out with the Old:
The River Empires

Listen on Spotify:

Continue reading

Divad’s Soundtrack #90: January-February 2011

Sometimes I look back on these old soundtracks that I made, and I’m delighted to revisit the feelings I felt and the experiences I was having. Then there are other times where I’m like, “Man, I was really going through some stuff, and I wasn’t always responding to it in a healthy way.” This is one of those soundtracks, because 2011 was one of those years. It was just HARD, full stop. There was some great music to help get me through it – songs that were cathartic and that helped me to take the pulse of how I was feeling, even if I had to admit to myself that they often challenged what I thought was the “right” way to feel about my situation. Sometimes people’s nerves are frayed and they have to admit to the honest reactions they’re having to a stressful situation, even if they later look back and go, “Wow, I said and did some things that I’m not proud of.” Ten years of hindsight makes it easier to see that. I’m still proud of the songs I picked, ’cause they’re all great songs – I just wish I’d never had to relate to some of them as much as I did back then. I’m glad that I can feel enough distance from it all to write more objectively about it now.

In with the New:
Empire of the Sun
The Temper Trap

Out with the Old:
Caedmon’s Call
Sara Groves

Listen on Spotify:

Continue reading

Divad’s Soundtrack #89: November-December 2010

A lot of the songs that I put on this mix I made at the end of 2010 referenced my anxiety about how quickly time was passing and the year was coming to a close. I was looking for some sort of a beacon of light to shine into what felt like a dark time that I was going through personally. In a way, that may have helped me to get more in tune with the advent season and what several of the classic Christmas carols I’d been singing since my youth were really about. But it’s not all dreariness, intense longing, and regret – there are some beautiful songs in here about release, surrender, the art of learning to let go. And some that simply celebrate the changing of seasons and the positive aspects of autumn and winter that I don’t always stop to appreciate.

In with the New:
All the Day Holiday
Steven Page (as a solo artist – appears earlier with Barenaked Ladies)

Listen on Spotify:

Continue reading

Divad’s Soundtrack #88: September-October 2010

It’s funny how I can look back at some of these mixes that I made a decade ago, and find unintended recurring themes that I might not have been conscious of when I was first putting them together. There’s definitely some surface angst in several of these tracks that reflected conflicts I was dealing with, but what I don’t think I realized was how many of these songs discussed secrets that people kept, personal failings that made them ashamed of themselves, frustrations over situations they couldn’t control. So there’s a sense of catharsis in several of these songs as they compel the listener to bring what is hidden out into the light, to remember that the people who truly love them see their virtues first instead of dwelling on their failings, and ultimately to know when to let go of something that is too big to control, and leave it in the hands of God. I’ve never been very good at any of that, but the fact that I picked a lot of these songs must have been an indication that I was at least trying.

In with the New:
Lights

Out with the Old:
Justis Kao

Listen on Spotify:

Continue reading

Divad’s Soundtrack #87: July-August 2010

Our big summer trip in 2010 took us to Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria – the latter two of those cities made it our very first time traveling outside of the United States. I think it’s important for us to get to experience new things together for the first time, as it helps us to bond. We traveled a lot that year, and I think it was particularly important to put some emphasis on our efforts to spend time alone together, talk things through during some of the long drives and hikes we enjoyed on those trips, and try to get back to a place of understanding each other better. This particular trip wasn’t a magical fix for everything we were dealing with, but it helped. The contrast is pretty stark between some of the more cynical and despairing songs that made it on to my summer soundtrack for that year, and the brighter and more hopeful ones, but I like how there’s a loose narrative toward the end that seems to hit rock bottom, reach a point of being ready to give up, and then find the strength and courage to climb back up out of it again.

In with the New:
Sherwood
Broken Bells
Court Yard Hounds

Out with the Old:
As Tall as Lions
Lost Ocean

Listen on Spotify:

Continue reading

Divad’s Soundtrack #86: May-June 2010

“Movement” is the word that comes to mind when I think of the late spring and early summer of 2010. It’s a freedom that I almost feel like I was taking for granted, now that I’m thinking about it from the perspective of 2020. The month of May started off with a weekend trip to Vegas. In mid-June, I surprised Christine with another weekend trip, this time to Colorado, where we managed to cram in a National Park visit and one of my “bucket list” concerts all in a single day. In between the two, we moved to a new apartment – only 2 miles away from our old place on Granada near the train tracks, and still technically within the city of Alhambra, but close enough to its northern boundary to have a more peaceful “San Marino ambiance”. On the surface, we were turning over new leaves and doing a lot of fun things, and life was good. Deeper down, more of an unsettling sort of movement was going on. I can still remember the exact moment when a “dark epiphany” hit me that sent me into an emotional tailspin that I’d struggle with on and off for the better part of the next two years. As much as listening to this set of songs instantly brings back my excitement at the newness of our surroundings during that time, it also reminds me of some questions that haunted me at the time – things I would have never thought in a million years I’d ever have to wrestle with.

In with the New:
Paper Route

Out with the Old:
The Paper Raincoat
Joe Henry

Listen on Spotify:

Continue reading

Divad’s Soundtrack #85: March-April 2010

My soundtrack from the spring of 2010 is… a bit of a hodgepodge, honestly. Most of my soundtracks are, but this one in particular has a bit of an identity crisis. Lots of great music here from across a smattering of divergent genres, but not a whole lot of connecting tissue tying most of it together – and honestly, not as many specific memories tying the music to definitive events in my life. I think this tends to happen during a season of life when I’m reasonably settled and happy – the music I’m drawn to, which might reflect a certain amount of angst or difficult questions, is probably resonating more with stuff I’ve been through in the past, or stuff I’m glad to have never been through. All of this is to say, I’ve realized in retrospect that this is a less autobiographical set of songs than most of my soundtracks turned out to be. Nothing wrong with that – remembering a time in my life when there was a distinct lack of struggle or upheaval is kind of comforting nowadays, considering how isolated, unpredictable and stressful life is for me (and for most of the world!) ten years down the road.

In with the New:
OK Go
Owl City
The River Empires
Jónsi (as a solo artist – appears earlier with Sigur Rós)

Out with the Old:
Newsboys

It Was Worth a Try:
The Clumsy Lovers

Listen on Spotify:

Continue reading