My Life As Music


Rob is surrounded by stacks of records on the floor. He looks to camera.

I’m reorganizing my records tonight. It’s something I do in times of emotional distress. When Laura was here I had them in alphabetical order, before that, chronologically. Tonight, though, I’m trying to put them in the order in which I bought them. That way I can write my own autobiography without picking up a pen. Pull them all off the shelves, look for Revolver and go from there. I’ll be able to see how I got from Deep Purple to The Soft Boys in twenty-five moves. What I really like about my new system is that it makes me more complicated than I am. To find anything you have to be me, or at the very least a doctor in Rob-ology. If you wanna find Landslide by Fleetwood Mac you have to know that I bought it for someone in the fall of 1983 and then didn’t give it to them for personal reasons. But you don’t know any of that, do you? You would have to ask me to –

For those fans of the movie, yes this is the scene from High Fidelity. I thought the concept was a fun exercise that I’d like to try. I wondered what my life would look like spread out by the album covers that I’ve listened to. I started from the very beginning, the stuff my parents would listen to around the house. For instance my mom would often spin Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits while cleaning the house on Saturdays so to this day when I listen to them it takes me back to childhood. I distinctly remember the explosive BOOM on the intense parts on the live version of “The Boxer” and it just blew my 8 year old mind.

It’s funny how music can tether itself to memories of your life. When I listen to “Revolution 9″ I remember the 5th grade, hauling my dad’s copy of The Beatles White Album to my friend Patrick’s house and totally freaking out by that song (delightfully so). My dad later got the album on CD and I would listen to the whole thing on repeat while playing Contra on my Nintendo during lazy Saturday afternoons. I remember seeing the video for U2 “Where the Streets Have No Name” for the first time and being BLOWN AWAY by this massive wall of sound. I remember in High School listening to Peter Gabriel’s So for weeks on end and how “Mercy Street” provided the perfect soundtrack to the early morning dawn. It was the first time that I realized some music enhanced (or was enhanced by) certain times of day. I remember borrowing a copy of Radiohead’s Kid A and listening to it for the first time while working on a project for a design class in college and realizing that my musical mindset was changed forever.

The experiment was a very enlightening experience. I’m sure I’ll have several “Crap! I can’t believe I forgot _____ album!” moments but this is a pretty good snapshot. This is by no means exhaustive. There was quite a bit of stuff in-between but I mostly included music that I owned, or borrowed extensively, for the entire album’s worth. There were singles that I wore the tape out on (or mix tapes!), but that would have been a bit trickier to map out so I just stuck with albums that I appreciated the entirety of. So enjoy, make fun of me if you like (just remember the musical skeletons in your music closet!).

(click to enlarge)

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