A lot of people rag on lists. I enjoy them. (Well, not, like, grocery lists, but albums, films, and such.) I think the ragging is for the list for list’s sake—that they’re mindless and superfluous. Though I prefer lists to have a written component, and agree that they’re often superfluous, I don’t believe them to be mindless. When you’re compiling a list of albums, for example, you’re thinking, seriously, about why one album is greater than another. This determination causes you to think about what you value in one piece of music more than another. Even better, it makes you think about yourself and your listening at that time, which then makes you think about that time. When I placed 3rd Eye Vision by Hieroglyphics on my list, a whole mess of memories came to me about what else I listened to and valued at the time (left-field hip-hop), along with where I was (1999–2000: Oshkosh, WI: college dropout/car wash employee/wayward fuck-up). Or, when adding Nine Times That Same Song by Love Is All, I remembered the show my girlfriend and I went to, in 2006, at the Knitting Factory’s former Manhattan location, where the audience was so into it, bouncing, nearly in unison, along to the tunes, that the floor was actually moving.
Another nice thing about lists is sharing them. Now someone else can look at my list, which will, ideally, get them thinking about what they like, why they like it, and who and where they are/were.
The last thing about lists: They’re never definitive. I’ve messed around with this list daily since I began it. By sharing this, I am officially putting a stop to myself. Because it’s just going to keep changing. And that’s not bad. The changing just creates more reason to think about the albums and why they’ve changed and what that says about yourself. Unless, you know, endless introspection is not on your list.
[Update: 1/4/13: About that changing, if I could add D’Angelo’s Voodoo, which I just finally listened to about a month ago, it would be in (at least) the Top 20.]