Essential Albums From 2014

Normally I am not a fan of year-end lists, but for some reason I’m feeling the year-end spirit this year. Maybe it’s because this was the year of my 20th reunion from high school, so I’m just naturally nostalgic anyway. Or perhaps it’s because this year two people in my life shockingly passed on. Or it might simply be the number of candles that will be on my birthday cake in less than a month. Regardless of the reasons, I’m feeling all verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves. The topic: Music released in the year 2014 that didn’t suck. Go.

  • love-marriage-divorce-coverCasting Crowns – Thrive. This is contemporary Christian music at its best, even though they continue to use the same exact formula that they’ve always used. I liken them to Bon Jovi in the secular world. You always know what you’re going to get, but that’s okay because you liked it the first time you heard it and it hasn’t gotten old. Yet.
  • Toni Braxton & Babyface – Love, Marriage & Divorce. Sure, it was 22 years of waiting for these two to follow up on the promise of “Give You My Heart,” and “Love Shoulda Brought You Home Last Night,” but it was well worth the wait as we got entire album of a relationship gone right, then wrong, then right again. The album traces the pattern of a couple who have major issues, like most couples, and we hear about it through song. Perfect picture.
  • Pharrell Williams – G I R L. I didn’t know whether to separate the letters like that or to put period between them, but it doesn’t really matter. The album is “sick.” Seriously, Pharrell knows just what beats to marry and which ones to eschew in favor of others. He’s the consummate professional, and once I get past “Happy” I can truly enjoy this masterpiece of an album.sarah-mclachlan-shine-on-in-your-shoes-400x400
  • Jason Derulo – Talk Dirty. I tried not to like Jason Derulo because he sounds so much like Ne-Yo and Usher (a conundrum in and of itself), but I just can’t help myself with this record. There’s just something about his music that makes me want to move my feet to the rhythm, and this collection of songs is no different. Slick production and sexual undertones help to drive this album and keep it playing on my iPod.
  • Sarah McLachlan – Shine On. You know I’m a huge Sarah McLachlan fan but I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this one. It seems like her best songwriting comes out of heartbreak (like so many others), and it was universally panned by critics, but I enjoyed the atmosphere of a record that was a hopeful look forward instead of a depressing look inward and backward. Shine on indeed.

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A Real Friend Is…

there for you when you aren’t even there for yourself never blind to your faults but loves you in spite of them always willing to compromise someone who listens, even when you keep saying the same thing never disposable comfortable to be around a formidable ally when you are in trouble not perfect a person … Continue reading A Real Friend Is…

Before I Die

before-i-die15_178343183Before I die I want to live. I don’t remember where that quote comes from, but it’s one I’ve lived by since I turned 21. Before then I never even thought about death, even though all around me people were dying every day. None of it really seemed that personal to me until I turned 21 and began having little aches and pains, signs that informed me of my own mortality.

In recent years a lot of focus has been given to the proverbial “bucket list,” a list of things people want to do before they die. It started off with a lot of older folk and their list of regrets. What didn’t they do that they wish they had done in their lifetime? They were regrets, though, because almost everything on their lists were impossibilities for people of advanced age. That’s when people younger and younger began writing out their own bucket lists of things they could conceivably do if they lived a nice long life.

Of course living a nice long life is not a given for anyone who’s young, and we can see more and more the stories of people who’ve died young, before they had a chance to truly live, before the things on their bucket lists could be successfully completed. I recall reading a book once about this woman who was involved in the death of a young girl who had a list of 40 things she wanted to do before 40. I could be massively reinterpreting the plot structure of the book, but it was intriguing, completing someone else’s list out of a sense of guilt or obligation. In a way it was even better because the woman felt compelled to go out of her comfort zone to try and get some closure on what she had done, accidentally or not. The idea intrigues me. Continue reading “Before I Die”

Six For Saturday

It’s funny how we all have interactions with others every day, and some of those interactions stick in our minds while others just drop right out the moment they’re over. Most times it’s odd the things that stick, and we’re stuck standing still wondering why what we thought was important disappeared. Of course it might … Continue reading Six For Saturday