A lot happened during the C’s. I changed jobs; hubs and I both turned another year weirder; I streamed the same Decemberists concert over and over as hard as I could to make up for the ultimately-canceled show some friends and I were supposed to see first last summer and then this summer; I started writing about my stutter more; I both traveled out of state and flew for the first time in 16 months to help my best friend move a time zone away; the country continued to cautiously crawl out from its COVID cocoon (though perhaps a little less cautiously in certain parts, as driving west and south for three days taught me), which I’ve been writing about in some capacity across two different jobs and just as many freelance gigs.
Time has been consistently moving faster since the day I gratefully watched my high school recede in the rearview and it’s been speeding up at unpredictable intervals since then, too. I got used to that ages ago. What’s thrown me off is how malleable and subjective time has become during the pandemic: I cannot find my emotional footing when two hours occurring within the same day feel like they’re unspooling at two different speeds.
Concurently, I kept feeling like it took foooooreeeeeeveeeeer to get through the C songs but also was completely taken by surprise when I got to the last tune, once while listening and then again while curating this project’s as-accurate-as-possible corollary playlist. This was months ago, by the way: I’ve had a backlog of C songs to write about since I finished listening to them earlier in the spring because I have neither the time nor the bandwidth to write and edit and especially conduct interviews as much as I do for work and still have the energy for a completely self-indulgent vanity project of a personal blog (albeit one I’ve become quite fond of).
The liquidity of time notwithstanding, I think the C songs are where I started feeling like this project found its groove. After 2,268 songs and almost a year, it’s become less about an alphabetical saunter through my music library and more about the actual, organic discovery that kind of listening allows. My music collection is already feeling more familiar and more filled with unexplored or under-appreciated riches than I think it ever has, and imbuing anything with that kind of just-below-the-surface magic is a welcome surprise.
And I think that actually did contribute to how wibbly-wobbly time’s been feeling: Letting myself detour through whatever albums and bands certain songs led me to definitely made it take a little longer to get through just one letter. (The real takeaway here, of course, is that meandering from the task at hand consistently yields a more effective lesson than approaching it with tunnel vision does, so huzzah to that remaining true.)
The Cs were when the difference between the songs I crawl inside and the songs that bore directly into my heart became starkly clear, and I think it was because I let myself veer from alphabetical listening to be wooed by the songs, albums, artists and acts that charmed me in new ways. I think the forced conceit of methodically consuming my musical library in a rigidly prescribed way makes taking the time to enjoy these new discoveries and rediscoveries so much more important and fruitful. I love some songs because they feel bigger than me but universally relevant; I love other songs because they feel so intimately, intensely mine that I want to protect them until I find someone else who can appreciate it as whole-heartedly as I do.
And when it comes to things that make time feel malleable while also invoking my twin desires to both greedily hoard and tirelessly celebrate the music I love the hardest, I can’t not talk about getting waylaid by the Cricket Rumor Mill album I never thought I’d get to enjoy and how everything stopped so I could revel in that gift for… uh, like, four months now. A lot of the time I would have spent listening to music for 12,700 Songs was spent with Aloha instead and I am all the happier for it. How often does the album you spent years low-key wishing for actually come out of nowhere, land directly in your hands and beautifully smash expectations you didn’t even know you were allowed to have?
I’ve thought about how Aloha and CRM impacted this blog, not only by dominating my time and attention so much that I decided to include the occasional new-music review but also because I probably never would have written about them here if not for that album. In the late high school/early college days of Death Cab for Cutie being my favorite band, I realized that I couldn’t really identify a favorite song of theirs and could barely pinpoint a favorite album: That’s how I learned that sometimes, you can just love a band or an artist for the entirety of their sound because some things can’t be defined by or confined to just one song.
Expanding this blog to account for new music that grips me kind of underscored how impossibly white and male my taste in music is, to say nothing of how it’s also happily mired in the early years of the new millennium. I’m still processing how I feel about that and how maybe I should start trying modern music less trepidatiously and more generously than I currently am. That’ll be a work in progress exclusive of this project that absolutely gives me an excuse to lean into my appropriately frozen-in-time iPod.
Then there were songs that were notable for being either disorientingly or perfectly timed. Like, it was weird as fuck encountering a bunch of Christmas songs at the end of January, when the glow of the holidays had long since turned to muddy slush melting and refreezing at the side of the grimy winter roads.
But then I got wrapped up in songs I’d forgotten about and albums I never gave a fair chance, all because the spark of long-overdue interest or rediscovery finally came at the right time. And a run on spring-sounding songs (especially the likes of “Crush” and “Custard Pie“) when the best season finally settled in for keeps was especially auspicious and made the onset of my favorite time of year feel even more magical.
Anyway. I’m sure I have more to say but the C’s have dragged on long enough. Onto bad jokes about gettin’ that D!
Total: 753 songs
First song: “C Minor Interlude” by Son, Ambulance
Last song: “Cycle” by Beck
Shortest song: “Computer Canticle 1” by Yeasayer (29 seconds)
Longest song: “Crush (Live at Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain, Scranton, PA)” by Dave Matthews Band (14:00 minutes)
Most recurring song: “Communication Breakdown” by Led Zeppelin and Captain Vs. Crew (six versions total) [Kudos to three different artists tackling “Corrina, Corrina,” though]
Most time spent on one song: “Crush” by Dave Matthews Band (33.4 minutes)
Number of songs not on Spotify: 35
Total playing time: 2 days