1996 was quite a year for me. I graduated from high school, got a summer job at a convenience store, and then went off to college with my boyfriend. Graduation wasn’t so special. I was just happy to get out of there. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I met my future brother-in-law at that job. And college? The beginning of my freedom and probably one of the best times of my life up until the last couple of months anyway.
Pushing all of that stuff aside though, the really great part of 1996 was the music. I was scrolling through my digital music collection the other day and decided on a whim to sort it by year. Ten years later, I can still call almost every album in that list favorites.
Recovering the Satellites by Counting Crows has always felt like a winter album to me. It could be because I’m drawn to the song "Long December", but the whole album just reminds me of the long winter months. I’ve actually pulled this one out several times over the last few months and given it a listen.
Big Fine Thing by Darlahood gives me a little different feeling. The ex and I saw them open for Collective Soul and instantly loved them. We rushed out after the concert to pick up their cd and every time I listen to it I re-live that concert. Usually after I listen to the cd, I’m singing "99% Bulletproof" for days. From what I can find on the internet, it looks like they never made it past that first album. Too bad.
I’m not as big of a Dave Matthews Band fan as I used to be, but when Crash came out it spent a lot of time in my cd player. I remember listening to it over and over again on repeat. I don’t think there’s a single song on the album that I don’t like and I certainly can’t claim a favorite.
Then there’s Hootie and the Blowfish’s Fairweather Johnson. I find it incredibly sad that this band faded out the way they did because they were a favorite of mine for a long time. I loved how they could go from an upbeat happy song to a deeply emotional, heart-wrenching song in seconds. They were a great band to see live as well.
I bought the Beautiful Girls Soundtrack (long before I ever saw the movie) based on the fact that it had my favorite Kiss song, "Beth," on it. Okay, so really it was the only Kiss song I ever really liked and I figured this way I could get the song and avoid having to buy an actual Kiss cd. If only I could have had the ability to download single tracks back then! Actually, I’m glad I didn’t have that ability because I discovered a few other gems on that cd after listening to it a few times.
No Code by the mighty Pearl Jam was a life-altering purchase for me. I already owned Vitalogy and was a fan of the previous albums, but No Code really cemented the deal. I remember the drive to buy the cd, the thrill of having it in my hands, and the rush to open the plastic and get it in the cd player as we walked out of the store. Although some PJ fans claim that No Code was the beginning of the end for the band, it was the beginning of true love for me. I’ve listened to that cd so much I’m surprised that it still plays.
R.E.M.’s New Adventures In Hi-Fi doesn’t bring back any distinct memories, other than the fact that I know I listened to it a lot at the time. It has always seemed like a bit of a chilled out road trip cd to me. I was always a R.E.M. fan but not a hugely obsessed fan if that makes sense.
Sarah McLachlan’s B-Sides, Rarities, and Other Stuff is always a special treat for me. I’m not so big on the re-mixes, but the other songs are definitely worth listening to. I was introduced to Sarah through a friend at school. This particular friend always had a cd player and stack of cd’s in his backpack at school. During some down time in band class one day he let me listen to a little bit of Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. I was instantly hooked on Sarah’s voice and soon owned her entire collection, including B-Sides. She is without a doubt my favorite female vocalist.
Tiny Music…Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop by Stone Temple Pilots is one I actually don’t listen to much anymore but still like to pull out from time to time. Much like Pearl Jam did with No Code, they veered away from their traditional sound a bit with this one. The same friend that introduced me to Sarah also allowed me my first listen to Tiny Music. The cd had just come out that week and we were on an out-of-town trip for band contest. I had been dying to hear the new cd and he was happy to share. The first chance I had to get to a music store after that, the cd was mine.
Tracy Bonham’s The Burdens of Being Upright was purchased for one track, "Mother, Mother." I’m pretty sure every teenage girl was screaming out the lyrics along with her that year. Of course it meant so much more to me because I spent most of that year fighting with my own mother. I’m sure no one else out there was doing that.
Sweet Relief II is a compilation cd with some amazing artists covering the songs of Vic Chesnutt. I’m not sure exactly who’s decision it was to purchase this cd (mine or my ex’s) but I have to say I’m glad we did. My personal favorite is the Hootie and the Blowfish/Nanci Griffith cover of "Gravity of the Situation." That song always touches me deep in my soul somewhere.
The next (and last-whew!) two albums, Villains by the Verve Pipe and Bringing Down the Horse by The Wallflowers, have to be combined. These two albums were in constant rotation in the cd player during my freshman year of college because it was about the only thing my roommate and I could actually agree on. If these weren’t playing then she was blaring The Smashing Pumpkins from her side of the room, which is a shame because I really used to like the Pumpkins.
There are a few others in my collection from that year, but they were either inherited from Hubby when we got married, or they were purchased long after 1996 had passed. There are probably even more that haven’t found their way to the computer to be ripped into digital files yet. I find it very interesting that many of the artists that I listened to when I was 18 continue to be the artists that I choose to listen to today.