2002: I Miss The Innocence I’ve Known

The title comes from Wilco’s summery ode to (as another song on a Sparks album from that year puts it) Ugly Guys with Beautiful Girls; it’s also an inverse of my 1999 mix title, and the turnaround speaks volumes of how much had changed for me in that relatively brief time span. I spent the first half of 2002 in a deteriorating relationship which finally, spectacularly collapsed at the end of June; I spent the year’s remainder shellshocked and full of pain, but also defiantly impulsive (and, more often than not, carelessly stupid.) I can’t definitely say which half was better or worse but both permanently color all of my 2002 memories, right down to the art I consumed.

Music was an escape and a healer. I found solace in Sleater-Kinney’s defiant call-to-arms, the Mekons’ razor-sharp reaction to post-9/11 religious fundamentalism (on both sides), Alison Moyet’s elegant, impassioned inquiry in seeking impossible closure and PJ Harvey lending kickass verve to a great, lost Gordon Gano song that could’ve easily held its own on Violent Femmes. However, I also took comfort in the more melancholy hues of Jon Brion’s should’ve-been-nominated-for-an-Oscar Punch Drunk Love theme, the near ethereal wash of Badly Drawn Boy’s About A Boy soundtrack (it should’ve been nominated too) and the reassurance of tracks by Doves and Emm Gryner, pushing me forward, encouraging me that not all hope was lost.

I began blogging in 2002, so it was the first instance where I made public my favorite albums of the year. Most of the titles I picked then are represented below (as for Norah Jones, I tried, but 2017 me just couldn’t and I haven’t listened to that Ani DiFranco live LP in years), along with the usual assortment of key tracks (“The Night I Fell In Love” is pure 2002 and gloriously so) and a handful of songs I wouldn’t hear until later (no one knows the late Luna song but everyone should.) Also, for possibly the first time, I do not see one single track here (apart from maybe Beck?) that I would’ve heard on commercial radio at the time—a harbinger of increasingly idiosyncratic, indie-centric listening habits to come.

Go here to listen to my favorite tracks of 2002 on Spotify:

Gordon Gano and PJ Harvey “Hitting the Ground”
Frou Frou, “Breathe In”
Saint Etienne, “Stop and Think It Over”
The Negro Problem, “Lime Green Sweater”
Badly Drawn Boy, “Silent Sigh”
Spoon, “The Way We Get By”
Carla Bruni, “Quelqu’un m’a dit”
Tori Amos, “Crazy”
DJ Shadow, “Six Days”
Mekons, “Thee Old Trip to Jerusalem”
Mr. Airplane Man, “Jesus On The Mainline”
Doves, “There Goes The Fear”
Jon Brion, “Here We Go”
Wilco, “Heavy Metal Drummer”
Luna, “Lovedust”
Neko Case, “Deep Red Bells”
Sparks, “Suburban Homeboy”
Imperial Teen, “Ivanka”
Ivy, “Kite”
Tegan and Sara, “Living Room”
Pet Shop Boys, “The Night I Fell In Love”
Beck, “Guess I’m Doing Fine”
Alison Moyet, “Do You Ever Wonder”
Emm Gryner, “Symphonic”
Sleater-Kinney, “Step Aside”

Advertisements