December 30 Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What's the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year? (Author: Holly Root)
The most memorable gift I've gotten this year has been new music. In the form of iTunes gift cards from various loved ones, taking strong recommendations from one of my favorite radio shows, All Songs Considered, or my favorite music connection, my brother in law, Jon Sands, new music is the gift this year.
Next to books, music is the one other thing that I probably can't live without. You know other than love, water, food, and the occasional friendly touch. Music is something that I've always needed. Though I lack any discernible talent in that area. I'm not a particularly good singer. I sang in high school choir, but I was allowed in more because I was friends with all of the choir students and the teachers liked me. My voice was mediocre at best. I took piano lessons for several years in grade school and middle school, but rarely practiced and was more interested in sneaking over to the Walden Books around the corner from the Toon Shop and buying illicit copies of VC Andrews books with my allowance, hiding them in my backpack to read secretly late at night under the covers. I can still play the piano a tiny bit, I can still read music, and I read all of the VC Andrews books up until the late 1980's, so it wasn't a total waste of time or money. I played the flute in junior high and hated every high pitched, whiny minute of it. Do I seem like the kind of girl who should play the flute? Nope. But despite my severe lack of interest in creating or playing my own music, I have an ongoing appetite for listening to music daily and adding in new music to my collection.
Raised on classic oldies from the 1950's and 60's, my parents taught my brother and me all the bands' and singers' names, trained us in the ability to answer almost immediately, when they queried "Who is playing that song?" and then as I got older, my dad took me to a lot of concerts. I remember pilfering his cassette tapes of The Police - Synchronicity, Sting - Nothing Like the Sun, Dire Straits- Brothers in Arms, Bruce Hornsby-Intersections and Paul Simon-Negotiations and Love Songs, I'm sure there were others, and I'm sure he knew I had them. Classic late 1970's and early 1980's singer song writers, my dad had good taste in music, and still does. It's not daring or out there, but he likes music that is solid and carefully crafted and incredibly well written, and it helped instill in me a deep love for the perfect lyric combined with that catchy melody.
Other friends and influences helped me broaden my taste and passion around music over the years. I love Billie Holiday with a deep fidelity that will not change. Nina Simone, The Sex Pistols, Johnny Cash, U2, the modern classics. And much like my dad, I don't have particularly daring or out there taste in music. I've veered toward the indie pop arena in the last few years, thanks in large part to Jon Sands, who tells me who I need to listen to and passes on his recommendations nearly weekly. But I like to consider myself comfortably eclectic. And this year has been a strong year for new music.
2010 brought me the Avett Brothers, Beirut, a reinvigorated love of the Pixies, Gogol Bordello, Mumford and Sons, The Bird and The Bee, The Very Best, Dr. Dog, the new Girl Talk album, The National's new album, The Andrew Jackson Jihad, She and Him Volume 2, The Suburbs from Arcade Fire and Horchata by Vampire Weekend. But the Avett Brothers have become my new favorite band, hands down. There is something about their combination of folk, blue grass, rock, a touch of punk, and those devastatingly emotional lyrics that just sits right with me. I listen to them everyday. So it's music with a big bright pink bow as the winning gift this year. That, or my new iPad. Which ties in, since I can play music on it. Thanks, honey.
What was your best gift this year, tangible or otherwise? New underpants? New baby? That new kidney? Tell me, tell me!