What is it about music fans and lists? Music fans that have a need, or perhaps a preoccupation, to let you know about the music they love and think you should love. Not unlike trying to convert someone to your faith, the difference with music is the miracle can actually be experienced.
I love looking at other people’s end-of-the-year lists. After working in record stores from the time I was 15 (Sound Warehouse in Midwest City) to my early thirties (Rainbow Records in Oklahoma City), the end-of-the-year list has been embedded in my DNA. It’s a compulsion. I seldom show it to anyone; it’s just my own personal record. In a few years, when I look back at the list, I’ll remember what I was doing when those songs or albums came out. It’s kind of a strange diary in a code or reference only I can comprehend. So, at least in my head, these lists are a story about the person who is writing them.
What’s interesting about this list is what’s missing—bands and titles I’m sure Mr. Schulte struggled with whether to include or not. Where’s Neil Young—he released two albums this year! (Psychedelic Pill was a highlight for the year, even with three of the tracks totaling one hour.) I was happy to see The xx, Tame Impala, and Cat Power highlighted, but disappointed to see no mention of this year’s albums by Moon Duo, Edward Sharpe, and the Magnetic Zeros, and Father John Misty.
But, that is the nature of these lists—there’s more to listing a title than just liking the music. It’s how it has attached itself to you personally that makes you love the music. For me, a visit to Neil Young’s house with the Flaming Lips will have Psychedelic Pill forever embedded in my memory as one of my favorite Neil Young albums. Heading to the Hollywood Cemetery at 5 a.m. to see the Magnetic Zeros and the Flaming Lips sing “Do You Realize” at sunrise will make me always pay a little more attention to their new record. Just like running into Moon Duo on an airplane after spending the weekend in North Carolina at the Moogfest inspires me play their record a little louder and a little longer in my car.
The point is that these end-of-year lists are an interesting way to gain insight into the mind, or psyche of another person. I’m happy he had the opportunity to be turned onto such a wide range of interesting, cool music. Hopefully, it’ll help someone else get turned onto something they’ve never heard before. With no real radio to mention in Oklahoma brave enough to play music that will most likely end up on most writers’ end-of-the-year lists (like Tame Impala), we need our peers, our conspirators in interesting music, to turn us onto things we haven’t heard before. So here’s to the list.
SCOTT BOOKER is the longtime manager of the Flaming Lips, and founder of the University of Central Oklahoma’s Academy of Contemporary Music.
Originally published in This Land, Vol. 4, Issue 3. Feb. 1, 2013.