Buckle up for a different kind of post.
Different because as of Nov. 21, 2019, my life has been different. You kind of change as a person after witnessing some of the people you care about most suffering from a sudden, tragic loss that impacts you, too.
Stephanie came into my life in 2017 and, with her, came Alex. Two of the cutest peas ya ever did see. They shared matching tattoos, an apartment, friends, taste in music, and life in general. Coincidentally enough, they were at the same show as Jason, my now-boyfriend, and me the night of our first date: Los Campesinos! on March 1 at the Triple Rock; a fact Stephanie and I pieced together after knowing each other for awhile.
It was little details like this that led me to believe I would have eventually crossed paths with these two at some point. I’m just glad it happened when it did and not even a day later.
I’ll still be sharing my top 10 albums of 2019 in this post, but the thing I won’t be doing is racking my brain to pit one piece of art against another for an arbitrary ranking. I don’t have the energy, and that’s not a good use of the little I do have for things outside of work, family and friends.
So instead I am going to list the albums I listened to the most because that probably means I liked them the most, in theory, and maybe that is the only way we should be making these types of lists. I gotta be honest and say I don’t listen to music with a critical ear. That’s not my job. I listen to what I enjoy and a lot of it.
And seeing music live? With people I love? Ya kiddin’ me? Maybe the best thing in life. How we connect to music and who we experience it with is an integral part of me and the friends I surround myself with.
The sudden loss of Alex sent my brain into a tailspin. I began piecing together the last time I saw him (at trivia, two weeks prior) and our conversation (he was dealing with a recent breakup but was feeling OK). Did I hug him before we left? I couldn’t remember, so friends, I will be hugging every last one of you every time we see each other. Because you never know.
Over these last four weeks I’ve noticed a common thread (besides Stephanie) among most of my Alex memories: music.
Dancing at our friend Hannah’s wedding reception; him and Jason discussing the merits of ska; him singing “Lovefool” by The Cardigans at karaoke; playing dueling air horn instruments at trivia to make our friends (and ourselves) laugh; seeing Mitski in the main room, Pixies at the Palace, Lucy Dacus at the Entry, Remember Sports and The Get Up Kids at the Turf. We carpooled with Stephanie and Jason to see Lala Lala (their fav) and Death Cab for Cutie (our fav) together in Mankato.
He collaborated on a playlist for mine and Jason’s housewarming party this past summer. If you remember jamming to “C’mon N’ Ride it (The Train)” by the Quad City DJs or “Run Away With Me” by Carly Rae Jepsen that evening, that was all Alex Wolf.
And my most recent memory is now of me sitting in his desk chair surrounded by posters of past shows he’d attended on the morning Stephanie called me to say he wasn’t with us anymore.
So, yeah. This loss has shaken many of my close friends and left an indelible mark on us. This shit is hard and not fair at all but I know music, and the memories I’ve made with Alex and our friends, will be a tool I continually use in navigating my grief.
Alex was Stephanie’s person and, since she is one of the most important people to me, it was a no-brainer in choosing to get to know him. He made it so easy and fun and I am better for it.
And now for the albums.
1 – Better Oblivion Community Center – s/t
Last.fm stats: 407 track plays with “Chesapeake” at the top with 58.
2 – The National – I am Easy to Find
Last.fm stats: 396 track plays with “Oblivions” at the top with 51.
3 – Bon Iver – i,i
Last.fm stats: 371 track plays with “We” at the top with 37.
4 – Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
5 – Big Thief – U.F.O.F.
Last.fm stats: 284 track plays with “Cattails” at the top with 32.
6 – Jenny Lewis– On the Line
Last.fm stats: 242 track plays with “Heads Gonna Roll” at the top with 43.
7 – Taylor Swift– Lover
Last.fm stats: 240 track plays with “You Need to Calm Down” at the top with 25.
8 – Stella Donnelly – Beware of the Dogs
Last.fm stats: 228 track plays with “Boys Will Be Boys” at the top with 27.
9 – American Football – LP3
Last.fm stats: 226 track plays with “Uncomfortably Numb” at the top with 51.
10 – Big Thief – Two Hands
Last.fm stats: 222 track plays with “Not” at the top with 50.