Plot Twist: Switching a J

For the first time since starting this blog I am switching one of my themes for the year. I’m not going to write in here about Jars. Jars are still a personal focus and an ongoing project this year for me- (perhaps I will summarize visually on instagram at the end of the year?) but I wrote one post about them and was bored to tears trying to write it so I can’t imagine how lame it would feel to read it!

SO… I’m switching to another project based J that might be just as strange to write about, but hopefully a little bit more engaging… J is for Jam.

Let me explain… I don’t mean like the delicious preserve you put on toast… though that would be a very fun year long project for someone else I’m sure. I mean jamming out to music in a deeper way than having it just come up on my Spotify.

The idea for this came because after reading Rest is Resistance the end of last year I had a really great discussion with my husband about how maybe a better way to unwind at the end of the day than watching TV that makes it hard for me to fall asleep would be to listen to music- and not just a casual Spotify or Apple Music mix, but an intentional, staying still in one place, listen to a full album type of experience. So we cleared off the top of our dresser, unboxed the record player hubby had earned as part of an outstanding performer perk at his job, and rediscovered our stash of vinyl, mostly inherited, but a few we had purchased… and then we went ahead and treated ourselves to a few more.

So now my new challenge for J is for Jam is that I would like to intentionally listen to one album a month and really soak it in and enjoy it. When is the last time you listened to a full album of music you love, staying in one place instead of multitasking- cleaning or driving or working out while listening? I forgot what a different experience that is. It brought me back to high school and falling in love with my favorite bands. It brought me back to college summers or the rare stretches of a semester when no one had rehearsal and we could just be in dorm rooms with new friends introducing each other to our favorite music. You don’t have to have a record player to do this, just some time and intentionality.

Here are the albums I’ve listened to so far this year and what they’ve meant to me:

*Mumford and Sons- Sigh No More: This was an album I bought for my husband’s birthday one of the first years we were married (either the first or second… the details have become fuzzy… ) because it is one of our favorite albums and ties into our love story so much. The album is filled with Shakespeare references, love, struggle, and of course banjo which you know I love. Hearing the ups and downs of the album as a whole reminded me so much of the exact time it came out- fall of 2009 when I was falling in love and doing more Shakespeare than my sleep demands could handle. I also listened to this album on repeat the summer we were doing long distance in 2011. It reminded me what a gift it was to be able to listen to some of this music together so many years later with the life we have built together. I might need to go get him Babel next because it was such a joy to attend a Mumford and Sons concert that included songs from that album the summer before getting pregnant with our oldest- I remember so clearly standing right next to the stage with my husband and my best friend to either side of me and letting the lyrics “my ears hear the call of my unborn sons” and thinking “I bet we’ll have a baby boy by this time next year” and it turned out I was right…

*Boston-Self Titled Debut : Another album that transported me to a crystal clear moment in my past. I don’t remember growing up with much classic rock in my life. If I was it didn’t make an impression aside from knowing Boston had a same with my name. I associate learning about Boston with the summer I went to Edinburgh with This Bridge Theatre and had a blast helping with 4 shows in rep, barely sleeping, and feeling so excited with possibilities. It was the last summer I had this wildly innocent joy in everything and I was not expecting to remember that feeling in particular. Also, my son thought this album was the coolest and wants to be in a rock and roll band now.

*Taylor Swift- Folklore: Our spring break plans were unfortunately torpedoed by my husband being sent on a business trip that exact week. Turns out they would have been torpedoed anyway as my son brought home a stomach bug that week and shared it with everyone else in the house. As a consolation for flying solo with multiple vomiting children while he left to be wined and dined for a few days, I was gifted this album on vinyl as a “good luck” present. Unlike the previous two albums, this is obviously a more recent release, but I have discovered so many beautiful layers of subtle orchestration and musical choices by just sitting and listening to it on vinyl. I won’t lie, it did give me a bit of FOMO with not having tickets to attend the Tay Tay concert later that week when so many of my friends did… but it simultanesouly reminded me that while her artistry in big performances is obviously stunning, some of the greatest things about her music can’t truly translate to an arena and are just as well enjoyed in quiet moments of focus. Invisible String remains my favorite… but since I always gravitate towards the love songs that won’t surprise many…

*Beatles-White Album: Unlike the previous albums, this did not pull me back to any specific memory or time, because The Beatles have felt ubiquitous in my life. It did bring a lot of joy and the most singalongs of any album so far. Similar to any of our other rock and roll albums, Beatles on vinyl just feels so right. The sound really is different and I will admit that I rarely listen to an entire album of Beatles songs instead of a sampling of singles. Does it count as multi tasking if I couldn’t help but sing along at the top of my lungs to a few songs? Also pro-tip- if your kids listen to part or all of this album with you, you may experience the same effect I did where Revolution 9 later shows up in their nightmares…

*Guardians of the Galaxy- Deluxe Super Awesome Mix: This is actually on deck for next month to coincide with my birthday. I might add in another album though since this is more of a mix-up than a conceptiaul full album… but for many years the big Marvel movie of the summer was released on my birthday weekend and it was tradition for my husband and I to see it together, so it feels right to pick this one for my birthday month.

I’ll update you on my next batch of Jam sessions later this year! Do you have a favorite album? Have you listened to it all the way through recently, distraction free? If not, I highly recommend it.


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