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Pro Discography

August 2, 2009

Friday afternoon was intermidable; one where your friends are already discussing how to escape work and find their way to the first watering hole of the weekend, and there you are stuck at the computer, attacking a project with attention-intensive gusto. You know the kind.

However, I didn’t much mind. I was already vicarious well beyond the bounds of sobriety as I entered my second hour of listening to The Hold Steady’s entire discography. I’m working on sifting some of the recurring themes out of their music for an article, and my current approach to the task was to listen to their entire output consecutively, in roughly chronological order. For those of you keeping score at home, that would be Almost Killed Me >> Separation Sunday >> Boys And Girls In America >> Stay Positive >> A Positive Rage plus some random bootlegs for good measure.

Soon the small beans Midwestern drug dealers and wandering kooks ran together in my brain, leaving me with something approaching a hangover, but without the attendant fun beforehand. In a way, that’s exactly what I was hoping for. Like a dream that you lunge to remember right after waking, all the ideas and elements were now in my head, but without any continuity or context, just big guitar riffs and singalong choruses to string it all together.

The experiment was a fun way of really finding out what a band is truly about. Try this out some time: pick a favorite artist (preferably one who isn’t ridiculously prolific; I’m looking at you, Ryan Adams), and listen to their entire discography over the course of the day, and see what kind of mood presents to you. I’m guessing a listen-through of The Avett Bros would have me grinning like a toothless mountain hermit, The National would leave me craving a cocktail in a bright Manhattan bar, and Lyle Lovett would inspire a cross-Texas road trip (taking only the smallest highways, naturally).

I’m more naturally inclined toward a shuffling, ADHD whirlagig tour through my iTunes library, but the immersion method was eye-opening. I’ll have to try it again soon.

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