Soundtrack and Slideshow

2012. If I’m going to be completely honest, it was a cruddy year. Despite a few bright spots, and despite being grateful for the “total package” of my life—I know I’m much more fortunate than many—it was still a year marred with more than a few disappointments and missteps.

I love Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture.” It’s brilliant, inspirational, and I’ve re-listened to it a few times each year since I discovered it in the late spring of 2008. Among the many bits of wisdom I most appreciate from the lecture there’s this one: “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”

2012--it gave me plenty of experience.

Moving along…

As those of you have been around for a while may already know, since 2002, each December I have compiled a mix CD to document the past year--a soundtrack, if you will.

The rules are as follows:

-The collection must be short enough to fit on a standard 80-minute CD.
-The song choices are not bound by “favorites” so much as songs that are, in my mind, distinctively connected to key moments and developmentss from the preceding year.

Without further ado, this year's track list:

1. “Traveling Alone” by Tift Merritt In a year when I visited Boston, Nashville, Cleveland, Easton, Chicago, and many points in California on my own, this song reads like an anthem of sorts for a way of life--lonelier, perhaps, than I'd prefer at times, but also a state affairs I’ve come to appreciate for its own merits.

2. “I Made a Resolution” by Sea Wolf I heard this one on Friday Night Lights amidst a marathon viewing after I had my wisdom teeth out. As fitting a song as any for the start of a new year.

3. “Boston” by Augustana The first big trip of the year took me to Boston for the first time in five or six years. I traveled for the a cappella competition, but also enjoyed a walk around the Harvard campus and a hearty serving of bacon and eggs at The Breakfast Club.

4. “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato A very pretty song, executed quite nicely by a number of a cappella groups this spring.

5. “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine Another song I was first exposed to via a cappella, and that had the unique distinction of getting better with each a cappella iteration I heard throughout the spring. Besides that, bar none, my favorite song this year.

6. “Fishin’ in the Dark” by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band I heard this one in a bar my first night in Nashville, after a visit to the Jack Daniels Distillery and a night before one of the greatest ICCA semifinals I’ve ever seen. Without question, one of my favorite trips this year.

7. “Prophets” by AC Newman I spent much of the first half of this year catching up on How I Met Your Mother. This song bookends the season four finale which I had seen before, but resonated anew with me this year, leading to repeated viewings and a surprisingly earnest sense of inspiration each time I’ve heard this song since.

8. “Like Teenage Gravity” cover by Counting Crows My car broke down and I spent a week walking six miles round trip to and from work. The Crows had just released their Underwater Sunshine cover album, and so I naturally spent most of these walks listening to the album on repeat. This was my favorite track.

9. “Bluebird” by Sara Bareilles I first heard this song at the high school a cappella finals, sung in lovely fashion by a group from Port Washington High. It’s a lovely song of loss and acceptance. Melancholy. Haunting. Unforgettable.

10. “Home” by Phillip Phillips Like so many Americans, I first heard this one during the Olympic coverage, and it was the lead-off track for the mix I listened to over and over again on my annual California road trip at the end of the summer, traveling through Napa, Yosemite, and LA.

11. “Don’t Wake Me Up” by Chris Brown We listened to this one in the car on a trip to Rochester Labor Day weekend.

12. “I Want You” by Bob Dylan I decided I wanted to be single and ended a two-year relationship. Defying my own logic, and perhaps not so surprisingly for those who know me well, I promptly fell for someone new. No, it didn't work out. I remember listening to this song in the car and daydreaming about what might be.

13. “Some Nights” by Fun. In addition to its general ubiquity, this song became an anthem for the final months of the year--for emceeing the professional showcase at ACappellaFest, for any number of workouts, for my thesis reading. It seemed whenever I needed an extra bit of courage, this was the song to help kick me into gear.

14. “The Cowboy’s Christmas Ball” by The Killers Far and away my favorite new holiday find this season.

15. “A Long December” by Counting Crows There’s reason to believe…

16. "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" by REM I kicked off my Christmas vacation by attending shows put on by Some Ska Band and Soundbarrier, each of which covered this song, pre- and post-the anticipated 12/21 apocalypse.

17. “Pomegranate Sky” by Taylor Berrett My friend Anthony has the excellent habit of sharing really good music via Facebook posts. This is a beautiful song of hope and reflection.

And now, to renew a not-as-time-honored tradition (this is only the fourth iteration) I present a slideshow for 2012.