The Best of 2009: Now Departing for Stockholm, Hawaii, New Orleans, and Points Inland

The end of 2009 is upon us, friends. It was a year that many of us didn’t look forward to, already knowing to expect financial woes and potential job losses (if not already realized ones) going into it – a year where the unexpected road ahead seemed to promise more hardship than exciting new possibilities to explore. but a poor year for the world was a rich year for music – either because artists channelled their angst into some of the best songs they’d ever written, or because more and more of them were jumping ship on the big labels and finding freedom to go where their imaginations would take them even if the audiences weren’t as big as a result. Some found artful ways to downsize while others played it as over-the-top as they could in defiance of expectations. In the end, it was a more exciting year than I could have anticipated, one that has left me with a lot to look forward to.

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Divad’s Soundtrack #82: November-December 2009

What was going on in my life back in the fall of 2009? I can remember going to a lot of concerts – at least four in the span of two months, if my math is correct. All of them rank among the most jaw-droppingly stellar performances I’ve ever seen from any live band – which includes the absolute largest concert I will probably ever attend, by a world-famous band that has been making music for as long as I have been alive. I can also remember the usual activities that I love to partake in most years at around this time, like going on a church retreat up in the mountains, and seeing fall colors and autumnal decorations at a nearby botanical garden. Beautiful places that sparked reactions of awe and admiration and a sense of peace. As I go through these songs I picked to represent the fall months of that year, I’m struck by how many of them also inspire a sense of awe, trying to express in the limited medium of sound what it would look like or feel like to approach heaven, eternity, the presence of God, etc. With that said, there’s also a lot of melancholy stuff here that deliberately contrasts upbeat and colorful musical performances with kinda depressing lyrics. What can I say – I’ve developed a weird affinity for that sort of songwriting, which has been true even in seasons of life where I would have considered myself relatively happy.

In with the New:
Muse

Out with the Old:
Pillar
The Elms

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Divad’s Soundtrack #53: November-December 2004

Listening to these songs brings to mind a lot of urban imagery. With Christine working a lot of nights at the AMC movie theater near her apartment in Montebello and a lot of time spent planning our upcoming wedding, we didn’t get out as much, so when we had free time, it was often spent with ridiculously sized buckets of popcorn and soda that she scored us for free, planted in front of a huge screen, watching a movie that she also scored us for free, which we were glad we didn’t have to pay to rent.

In with the New:
Alter Bridge
Macrosick
Day of Fire

Out with the Old:
Plus One
Bebo Norman

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Divad’s Soundtrack #52: September-October 2004

Here is where the dream that got deferred finally started to come true. This was the season when I made the transition from introducing Christine as “my girlfriend” to introducing her as “my fiancé”. It’s hard to enumerate all of the thoughts that went through my head as I prepared to take this great leap forward… but hesitance was no longer one of them.

In with the New:
Mute Math
Bethany Dillon
Iron & Wine
Starfield

Out with the Old:
dc Talk
Abra Moore
Eastmountainsouth

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Divad’s Soundtrack #51: July-August 2004

In the summer of 2004, I began to set plans in motion to take hold of the future I really wanted for myself and Christine. Slightly hampering those plans: A few sudden, unexpected financial difficulties. It was demoralizing at first, but I was beginning to believe quite strongly in the value of delayed gratification.

In with the New:
Modest Mouse

Out with the Old:
The Echoing Green

It Was Worth a Try:
Hoobastank
Neal Morse

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Divad’s Soundtrack #48: January-February 2004

I felt like the year 2004 began with a renewed sense of certainty. Its earliest months are memorable to me and Christine for our first real experiences of traveling together. Whether alone or with a group of people, I learned that she’s a really good travel buddy.

In with the New:
Eastmountainsouth
Maroon5
Christine Denté (as a solo artist – appears previously with Out of the Grey)
Sleeping at Last

Out with the Old:
Vertical Horizon
Ashley Cleveland
ZOEgirl

It Was Worth a Try:
…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Kutless

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Divad’s Soundtrack #43: March-April 2003

The funny thing about dreams becoming reality is that suddenly, you have these annoying reminders of real life mixed into your dreams. This is sort of what Christine’s move to California in April 2003 ended up being like – awesome to have her there, somewhat harsh to switch so suddenly from the “vacation mode” most of our relationship had been spent in to the nitty gritty of finding her a place to rent, a job, some sense of normalcy. The full weight of it wouldn’t set it until that summer, so the last half of April was mostly time to simply enjoy seeing each other every day after so many months of being apart. But something felt a bit “off” even during those first few days back together that I couldn’t quite place.

In with the New:
Wilco
Jason Mraz
Derek Webb (as a solo artist – appears previously with Caedmon’s Call)

Out with the Old:
Phil Joel (as a solo artist – appears later with Newsboys)
The Benjamin Gate
Jeremy Camp

It Was Worth a Try:
Something Corporate

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