Last week on the KSCU radio show The 80s Underground (podcast here), the DJ decided to play songs from the Top 25 albums of 1988 per a readers’ poll at the great college rock-themed blog Slicing Up Eyeballs. And you know me, I couldn’t resist. I just had to listen in.
Interestingly enough, hearing my favorite college rock year outside of the normal context (read: my ridiculously large mp3 collection) kind of put things in a different perspective. I purposely didn’t look up the poll they’d done a year or so ago (which I of course took part in), so I was pleasantly entertained by not exactly knowing which song would come next. It was a little jump back in time to my years listening to WAMH.
Back then, I used to have a lot of life soundtracks. Certain albums or compilation tapes I’d listen to during certain times of the day, or certain radio stations and shows. I often do the same thing while I’m writing; lately I’ve been listening to Beck’s Sea Change and Morning Phase during my Spare Oom couch sessions.
Thing is, I don’t have nearly as many of these as I once did, and I suppose in a way that’s a good thing. I always have the radio or some music going during the work day, but I’ve long past grown out of attempting to forge a mood from the music being played. I now listen to KSCU (a college station) as much as I listen to Radio BDC (an internet station) or KFOG and Live 105 (terrestrial stations).
Do I miss those days, giving myself a soundtrack as if I were the living embodiment of a Miami Vice or a Grey’s Anatomy episode? Well, not really. I just grew out of attempting to find the perfect sound to complement whatever I was doing. It had gotten to the point where I was forcing the mood, and that’s no fun. I’m still an active listener, mind you–certain songs will hit me just the right way and I’ll pounce all over them, like I did with that TV On the Radio track a few months back.
Life soundtracks are more of a passive thing now. I let them pop up organically, by serendipity. Just like life itself–sometimes it’s more fun to see what life (or in this case, a radio station) throws at you rather than trying to pigeonhole it into something it’s not.