This will now be my third annual collection of posts about the year in music, and I hope that this will be the least narcissistic installment yet. I don't think that the previous two were especially narcissistic. I believed then, and I believe now, that the driving force of these was my enthusiasm to share all this really good music I've come across and maybe even to prod others into sharing their own finds or opinions with me (though the response in the comments to such posts has always been depressingly nil).
At the same time, I do have to admit that in 2008 I was spurred by a desire to establish the necessary chops to support the rather maligned list Sean and I were putting together for the Collegian back in 2008. The following year I did not feel defensive, but I was rather taken with how much music I had listened to that year.
This year, as I already said, I listened to a good bit less music than I did last year. I feel no need to establish critical chops or any such nonsense. Instead I'd rather point out that I am the happy and grateful recipient of the good taste of my friends. I generally find new music through friends and family. I don't read most of what's posted on the music blogs I follow. Instead I filter them for names that you all have mentioned to me. I have written about this recently.
Music for me has always been a communal exercise. The people I know heavily influence the music I listen to, and the music I listen to effects, deepens, and cements relationships in various ways. I can recall a grade-school classmate of mine, Ryan S., disparaging my music taste in second or third grade by saying that I probably didn't even know who Michael W. Smith was (yes, he really said that.... yes, about Michael W. Smith). I proved him wrong, and we soon became good friends.
Particularly in the last couple years, music has been a strong way of maintaining contact with friends and family across the country. I want these year-end lists to reflect and continue that. In my rush to get moving on the year-end posts I prematurely posted the first part. I meant to include just a brief note on each regarding who I saw it with. I have gone back and added that. I will do something similar, but perhaps a little more significantly, in the forthcoming posts about songs and albums from the year.