30 Years of Music: 2002

2002 was a strange year, musically, in that there was not a lot of music that really excited me at the time. Many of the songs featured this week are those I’ve discovered in retrospect, with a fair number of songs coming from a music collection other than my own. Still, many of my usual favorites manage to sneak their way in, so let’s get started:

Logo for 30 Years of Music: 2002

A Minor Incident – Badly Drawn Boy

There’s nothing I could say to make you try to you feel okay
and nothing you could do to stop me from feeling the way I do
and if the chance should I happen that I never see you again
just remember that I’ll always love you

This is a lovely tune from the About a Boy soundtrack, a film based on the novel by Nick Hornby. Hornby himself loves this song, and he talks about it in his book of music essays, 31 Songs. I always enjoy it when one art influences another in this way.

Caught By The River – Doves

Speaking of one art influencing another, there’s a nature-music-writing publication named after this song, and singer Jimi Goodwin has contributed mixtape downloads to the site. I love this band – their music has assisted my writing tremendously, and “Caught By the River” is a soaring, gorgeous tune that makes me want to get to work.

Paragraph President – Blackalicious

Now we reach the first of the songs that come directly from my husband’s music collection. The mister has played Blackalicious’ Blazing Arrow countless times, and while I also enjoy the album a lot, I left the specific song choice for today up to him. Though he considered “Chemical Calisthenics,” “Release,” and… well, pretty much every song on the album, he went with “Paragraph President.” It contains an interlude from DJ Shadow and a sample from De La Soul’s “D.A.I.S.Y. Age.” The way the lyrics speed along and fit together is amazing.

Vampires – Atmosphere

This is another song the mister has listened to so much that the CD no longer plays without skipping. Play “Paragraph President” and then play “Vampires” for anyone who thinks hip-hop is all the same. Both songs deal with social conscience, yet do not sound anything alike. The mister has covered this song at one of our local open mic nights.

When we saw Atmosphere play in Spokane, Washington in 2009, it was such a great show. The crowd jumped around and was so into it, bits of the soundproofing literally fell from the ceiling.

She is Love – Oasis

This is one of my all-time favorite songs, though it’s one of the most simple songs from Oasis’ catalog.

You read all my thoughts of passion
and the dreams of my delight
whatever stirs my mortal frame
will you keep it warm at night?
I don’t know where you come from
and no I haven’t got a clue
All I know is I’m in love with someone who loves me too

Heathen Chemistry is probably the weakest album from the band, but being the hopeless indulgent spouse-like fan that I am, I still really love it.

By The Way – Red Hot Chili Peppers

This song was quite ubiquitous in 2002, wasn’t it? Somehow, I never tired of it. The video is funny, and as with most Red Hot Chili Peppers songs, it’s Flea’s bassline that wins it for me. When this came out, I had a friend who complained about how they continued to stray from their grungier, punk-rock roots, but maybe she thought we wouldn’t notice that she still bought this album the day it came out and played it bunches.

Musicians are allowed to evolve, and as long as they are true to themselves and happy with what they do, we don’t get to dictate their direction. Listen or don’t listen, but don’t flatter yourself into thinking you and you alone make the rules.

Concrete Sky – Beth Orton

I’ve never given this album, Daybreaker, the proper amount of love. Orton’s first two albums, I listened to obsessively, and her album after this, Comfort of Strangers, I’ve also played a lot. I don’t know why this one has been a gap of mine. She worked with both Johnny Marr and Ryan Adams during the recording, and Marr is featured on this song. I dig it.

On a related note: In one week’s time I will be seeing Johnny Marr perform in Portland, Oregon, and I’m terribly excited.

Dear Chicago – Ryan Adams

And here we have another Ryan Adams tune. Much like Oasis, if I can share a song by him during one of these weekly columns, I will. Unfortunately, Demolition is an album (more accurately, a collection of demos) that I still need to own. No one does melancholy desire better.

A musician friend of mine, Ryan David Johnson, does a great cover of this song. It’s sped up a bit, more rambling, and I should really get the live recording of it put up online.

Nothing Man – Bruce Springsteen

Of all the displays of patriotism post-9/11, perhaps Bruce Springsteen captured the national mood most succinctly. The sadness, the desire to move on, the inability to move on, the desire to rise above, the yearning for connection – all of it is in The Rising. It’s never saccharine and although Springsteen is primarily a storyteller, his music still feels very honest. That’s of course not to say that every American felt the same, but Springsteen provided a more reasonable counterpoint to people like Toby Keith filling the radio with xenophobic tunes.

A Better Son/Daughter – Rilo Kiley

Rilo Kiley’s The Execution of All Things is fantastic. In Alphabet Soup, I talked about “With Arms Outstretched,” and “A Better Son/Daughter” is another favorite from the album, although it’s not particularly feel-good.

But the lows are so extreme
that the good seems fuckin’ cheap
and it teases you for weeks in its absence

It’s a depression song set to a march, and the aspirations to be better, filtered through Jenny Lewis’ voice, sound as though she does not believe that they are possible.

Cry Me a River – Justin Timberlake

Every time this song comes on, my husband says, “This is my jam.” I find it hilarious, since most of the time, his music tastes are nowhere near the neighborhood of Justin Timberlake. The song and the video are deliciously mean – the break-up song mixed with revenge fantasy. I love how JT just calls out Brit-Brit as a liar and makes a musically superior song compared to much of her catalog.

The damage is done, so I guess I’ll be leaving…

I Am The Highway – Audioslave

Unapologetically, I dig Audioslave. Made up of Rage Against the Machine (minus Zack de la Rocha) and Chris Cornell, they were a fantastic rock band. “I Am The Highway” is one of their handful of ballads, and something about the chorus fills me with an introspective mix of loneliness and work-motivation.

After hearing the first single, “Cochise,” the mister bought this album almost immediately upon its release, and it’s another that I’m surprised still plays without skipping. 2002 is the year we got married, so I suppose it’s only fitting that this week’s column is 50% songs he would have picked, were he the one writing it.

Now, you should peruse 2002 in music, and tell me your favorites.

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

4 replies on “30 Years of Music: 2002”

So much incredibly good music from this year. This might get wordy (imagine that), some of my absolutely essential music is on the list.

Hurt, Personal Jesus – Johnny Cash. I could wax ecstatic over American IV for the next year and still couldn’t say everything that needs to be said.

The Test – The Chemical Brothers. This is one of the essentials, mandatory for meditation and religious rituals.

Pavlov’s Bell – Aimee Mann. That she performed it for an episode of Buffy only makes it — and her — better.

Daylight, God Put A Smile Upon Your Face – Coldplay. When they’re good, they’re great. When they aren’t I ask myself what else I expect from a band fronted by someone who married Gwyneth Paltrow.

Time Of Your Life – Paul Oakenfold. And holy shit how did I not know Perry Farrell did the vocals for this song? And that the album has a spoken word piece by Hunter S. Thompson?? Ahhh

And last but not least, one of the top three albums of the entire universe:

In Absentia – Porcupine Tree

Steven Wilson is to prog as Trent Reznor is to industrial (he is also to PT as TR is to NIN), and the only person able to toss TR off my throne. If I ever start writing about music, he’s who I’ll start with.

All the song are great, but Drown With Me is incredible:

And Trains is simply … well, it’s another song essential to my spiritual health and well being. It’s my traveling song. It’s my everything.

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