Auld Lang Syne

This song stirs me.

My first thought goes directly to the last scene of Its A Wonderful Life, wherein the crowd of friends and family and even bankers all gathered to celebrate the new year and the fact that Jimmy Stewart's character is still alive are gladly singing the timeless melody and swaying their champagne flutes, and the little girl makes the comment about bells and angels getting their wings and then the viewers realize that the angel who just got his wings is Clarence.

This reminds me of my childhood. How my mom always makes us sit together and watch the movie when it comes on NBC only once a year. How excited she gets. How my Dad pretends to be uninterested and clangs around in the kitchen doing the dishes while we are all gathered together watching and laughing and everyone yells DAD!! all at the same time because we are in the middle of the part where Jimmy Stewart meets his wife at the library but she doesn't recognize him because it's some other dimension of time where he gets a glimpse at what would really have happened had he not been born.

Somehow I think my dad always gets a kick out of that.

But then I listen to the actual lyrics, which people do not often listen to - especially with these classic old tunes that are only sung loudly and in unison and drunk and cold and most people are making out because its new years eve, but the lyrics really do speak volumes.

It's a song about life, troubles, difficulty, and old friends, and old memories.

It's about broken relationships, old girlfriends, old teachers, holding hands in the seventh grade, staying up late at night talking on the phone. It's about kindness. It's about being kind to one another because we all remember good old times that are broken and fading in our minds, but want them to remain no matter how futile the effort.

Standing in a room of people singing this song doesn't really happen often (or ever), and no one really knows the words, and no one is really ever that sentimental, especially when half drunk. Or fully drunk.

But we all wish we were that sentimental. We all wish we didn't need to get drunk. We all wish we could put our arms around each other, totally sober, clear eyed and crying, and sing these words into each others eyes with all honesty and truth and love. Glancing around the room and smiling at all the people who mutually love and forgive each other for everything.

I'll not write out the lyrics here, because I want people to listen to them for themselves, and find that they sing them alone in the car on their way home from work. Quietly wondering if they will ever have one of these moments with their very own loved ones around the Christmas tree and the piano and the eggnog bowl, with the snow coming in the door in bursts along with the late comers whose cars don't have front wheel drive or chains on the tires.

Top Ten Albums You Need To Buy

So I was thinking today about my favorite albums of all time, regardless of release date, popularity, coolness, or anything else. I have done lists like this before, but always with a thought in the back of my mind that I want to make sure I impress people with a full and complete list including something from all important genres. This list is different. This list doesn't care what anyone else thinks. These are my top 10 most consistently loved albums of all time. I love them, and all of you should too. Here they are, in order, with some comments about each:

10. God Shuffled His Feet - Crash Test Dummies

Amazing record. Most people just know the song "Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm", which is a great song, but by no means the best. Highlights are "Afternoons & Coffeespoons" (video below), "God Shuffled His Feet", and "How Does a Duck Know". No one sings like Brad Roberts, and the music is deep and thoughtful, yet cheery.

9. The Last Waltz - The Band

Quite possibly the most most rockstar studded live show of all time. The Band is completely amazing all by itself, with Rick Danko pleading and crying into the mic, and the one and only Levon singing from the drumset like he was riding a tractor and farming a crop, but with Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Dr. John, and tons more sharing the stage, this show is just totally crazy.

8. Legend - Bob Marley & The Wailers

There has never been anyone like him and there will never be another. Any Bob Marley disc is fantastic, and this is definitely his best seller. Everyone loves Marley, and they should not be afraid to belt out "Three Little Birds" while walking down a crowded street, smiling.

7. Stop Making Sense - The Talking Heads

Holy crap. With an opener like Psycho Killer, featuring a solo David Byrne with an acoustic guitar and a 1984-era boombox sitting on the stage next to him playing breakbeats, only pure glory can be expected to follow. And it does. I would list the highlight tracks, but they are all perfect in every possible way. Literally.

6. Light Fuse, Get Away - Widespread Panic

The first CD I ever really jammed out on, this classic double disc from the Boys from Georgia will always make me stomp my foot and wrinkle my face into JB-esque southern grins. "Papa Legba" is always my favorite song when they bust it out live. It's just killer. "Porch Song",  "Love Tractor", and a cover of Clapton's "Traveling Light" will definitely bring you down to a perfect goodtime chill.

5. Live - James Taylor

Of course, James Taylor will make every top 10 music list I ever come up with. If you don't think JT can rock, listen to "Country Road" off this CD - and if that doesn't do it for you, hit up "Sun On The Moon". Amazing. Also, "Millwork" is strange and somehow grips me every time.

4. Blonde on Blonde - Bob Dylan

There is almost nothing to say about this record that hasn't already been said. Every song is so perfect it can really never be touched. Historically, this should be number one on my list just out of reverence, but since this list is actual, it takes a supremely respectable #4 and a major tip of my hat. If not for this CD I would never have broken up with my first girlfriend.

3. A Picture Of Nectar - Phish

When I pressed Nectar into my CD player back in high school and "Llama" came on I was instantly hooked. I needed no further review. Then "Cavern" found its way into my brain and took me deep into a newfound underwater depth that is only Phish. I can't describe how amazing the drums are right before the precussionistic line "I snatched Rick's fork to scrape it off with deadly, icy calm."

2. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea - The Neutral Milk Hotel

Without a doubt, the only perfect fusion of punk, bagpipe, and something else the world has yet to name. Jeff Mangum's voice is unlike every single other voice in the world. It is the voice of a guy who sings, but doesn't know how. It is hypnotic and maddening in that nothing else can be imagined in its place. "Holland, 1945" is and always has been one of my favorite songs of all time. The bass drum on "Ghost" will send you heaving into the wilderness.

1. The Arista Years - The Grateful Dead

Definitely the best CD of all time. A double disc set that includes literally everything you need in life, musically. I used to think the big hit songs were the best, but now I rock the lesser known gems, like "Picasso Moon", "Just A Little Light", and "Alabama Getaway". The Dead have it all, and if I were pressed to choose a band to listen to exclusively for the rest of my life. They'd be it. No hesitation.