This article was originally published in The Sting on January 29, 2021.
Towards the latter half of 2020, I found myself in a bit of a rut.
Now I’m not referring to the routine I’ve had since last March, where I wake up, shower, make a pot of coffee and watch reruns of Cheers for eight or nine hours while I get work done. I’m referring to the same 10 or 20 albums I would shuffle through when I wasn’t watching 80’s sitcoms.
See, one of the downsides of not being able to shop for records as frequently is I fell out of practice of finding something new to listen to on the daily. And while I certainly have my favorites I like to keep in the rotation, I pride myself on being able to mix things up pretty often. That wasn’t happening anymore.
I knew I had to break the monotony… and fast.
While many have New Year’s resolutions to eat better, exercise more or lose weight, my New Year’s resolution this year was a bit different. I decided that I would listen to a different album, in its entirety, every day for the whole year.
In an era where music is defined by streams and playlists, it seems like listening to an entire album is something of a lost art. Oftentimes, I’ve found that the single an artist puts out isn’t even the best track on the album that follows. One song doesn’t tell the whole story, but an album does.
But alas, I’ve been listening to complete albums since I’ve been listening to music. My real intention with this resolution is discovering new (to me) music and rediscovering music that I hadn’t heard in some time.
So on January 1, I started combing through my thousands of CD’s and vinyl records and pulling out anything I hadn’t listened to since at least the early days of the pandemic, and in some cases, long before that. After the first week, I posted what I had listened to on Facebook, both to have my friends keep tabs on me, and to chronicle what all I had listened to.
Now here we are, roughly a month in, and I have to say, this has been the most fun resolution I’ve ever made. Not only am I listening to different music everyday, but I’m learning more and more about the music as I read the liner notes for these albums (another thing you don’t get with streaming).
But perhaps the best part of all this is the discussion I have with friends about what I’ve been listening to. Through sharing this resolution with others, I’ve found even more songs and albums to listen to, and learned even more about the music along the way. Some have even taken what I’ve listened to as recommendations, so they’ll have something new to try too.
I think at some point, whether now or a little ways down the road, everyone should try something like this. Maybe if you just listen to singles and playlists, listen to a whole album. If you do listen to whole albums, try something that might be a little outside your comfort zone. Even if you don’t have access to physical media, branch out and listen to something new.
You’ll be glad you did.
Tony Sheaffer is editor-in-chief for The Sting and writes Friday Groove, a weekly music column.