Music as memory

For music to become ingrained in memory it requires repetition. You have to continually open the door and allow it to live alongside those same visual/tactile experiences you will remember for years to come.

I knew this would be the case before I left Korea, so I Amazoned a bunch of CDs to arrive at my parents once I got in town. I know that at least three of these will become memory because they’re the three I’ve listened to almost nonstop since I’ve been here:

1. Iron & Wine: Our Endless Numbered Days
This has been the surprise of the bunch. What an awesome road CD — the perfect slice of lyrical and musical Americana that I needed. For the uninitiated, imagine a more introverted Simon & Garfunkel with the addition of banjos, mandolins, and some slide. Great landscape music, perfect for high Sierra drives.

2. Ryan Adams: Easy Tiger
This guy continues to amaze me with his prodigious songwriting output. I still prefer the heart-wrenching genius of Love is Hell, but this is the more upbeat flipside of that great album. It’s also one of the best-engineered and mixed albums I’ve heard in ages. It just sounds incredible. One thought I had on first listen was wow, how come no one else thought of such a simple and brilliant melodic hook as the one the band pulled off with “Goodnight Rose”? But then, a few days later, I listened to the third of my trio below and realized they lifted it directly from Neil. At least Ryan gives him a nod by pulling off a great vocal impersonation in that song.

3. Neil Young: After the Goldrush
Why did it take me so long to buy this album? Maybe because I’m in a minority when it comes to him. My favorite album by far is Harvest Moon (yes, the one with the word “moon” added), and nothing else I’ve bought has lived up. But After the Goldrush has the same kind of vibe. Great melodies, intimate songwriting, just awesome from start to finish.

Incidentally, listen to Neil’s “Only Love Will Break Your Heart” back to back with Adam’s “Goodnight Rose” and you’ll hear what I was talking about up there.

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