Tag Archives: 30 at 30

26. Sufjan Stevens

In honor of me turning 30, I’m making mix CDs of my favorite songs from each of my 30 favorite musical artists/groups. Read the introductory post for more background information on my 30 at 30 project. Reminder: there is no scientific rationale for this list. They’re simply my personal favorites. Coming in at number 26 is Sufjan Stevens.

SufjanStevens30at30

The 30 at 30 project has nothing on Sufjan Stevens’ purported 50 states project. Unfortunately, after Stevens’ magnificent musical takes on the states of Michigan (Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lake State) and Illinois (Come on Feel the Illinoise), follow-ups from the other 48 states never surfaced. It turns out the ambitious concept was too good to be true.

Those two albums remain at the core of the Stevens that I have grown to love over the past several years, and so it is no surprise that 60 percent of the tracks that made the cut for this CD come from the state-themed albums.

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27. The Decemberists

In honor of me turning 30, I’m making mix CDs of my favorite songs from each of my 30 favorite musical artists/groups. Read the introductory post for more background information on my 30 at 30 project. Reminder: there is no scientific rationale for this list. They’re simply my personal favorites. Coming in at number 27 is The Decemberists.

TheDecemberists30at30

The Decemberists are great storytellers. The fact that they tell their stories via folksy, rootsy rock songs is a bonus. Unlike the majority of the bands and songs that have and will find their way onto my countdown, The Decemberists’ best work comes when there is considerable distance between narrator and subject matter in their songs.

Take,  for example, “The Crane Wife 1 & 2” and “The Crane Wife 3” from the band’s 2006 album The Crane Wife. The songs are based on an old Japanese folktale. I had never heard of the tale before, but I could not imagine a more beautiful retelling than The Decemberists’ interpretation, which mixes lyrics and instrumentation flawlessly.  “The Crane Wife 1 & 2” is the less popular of the two tracks. Clocking in at 11:20 it feels like parts one and two of an emotionally stirring epic tale. Cue the opening guitar of “The Crane Wife 3.” Although this track curiously leads off The Decemberist’s album, I find it more fittingly (surprise!) as the direct follow-up to “The Crane Wife 1 & 2.”

If you’ve never heard of The Decemberists, “The Crane Wife 3” is the place to start. I have yet to find a time when I have heard this song pop up on shuffle—whether working at home, at the gym, hosting a party—when I felt inclined to skip it.  It’s a song for all situations, a song for all seasons.

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28. Ben Lee

In honor of me turning 30, I’m making mix CDs of my favorite songs from each of my 30 favorite musical artists/groups. Read the introductory post for more background information on my 30 at 30 project. Reminder: there is no scientific rationale for this list. They’re simply my personal favorites. Coming in at number 28 is Ben Lee.

BenLee30at30

When I think of Ben Lee, I think happy thoughts. Ben Lee’s music is full of optimism. He sings about messages of hope, togetherness, and the promise of the future. The Australian-born Lee, who shares a September birthday, is six years my elder. Although started a solo music career at the ripe young age of 16, it wasn’t until he released Awake is the New Sleep in 2005 that I was introduced to his music. Immediately, I was hooked.

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29. The Fray

In honor of me turning 30, I’m making mix CDs of my favorite songs from each of my 30 favorite musical artists/groups. Read the introductory post for more background information on my 30 at 30 project. Reminder: there is no scientific rationale for this list. They’re simply my personal favorites. Coming in at number 29 is The Fray.

TheFray30at30

I have to give credit to my wife here. In November of 2005, before anyone—or at least anyone we knew—had ever heard of The Fray, Jessie was standing front row at a concert singing along word-for-word to the likes of “She Is”, “Over My Head (Cable Car)” and the rest of their songs from their How to Save a Life album, which hadn’t even been out for two months. I was standing by her side and loved what I heard—both from her and them.

That all took place at Allegheny College. The Fray were opening for Ben Folds (Spoiler Alert! You’ll hear more from him later in the MM 30 at 30 Countdown). There was no way The Fray were going to steal a show headlined by Ben Folds, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only new fan they gained that night.

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30. Oasis

In honor of me turning 30, I’m making mix CDs of my favorite songs from each of my 30 favorite musical artists/groups. Read the introductory post for more background information on my 30 at 30 project. Reminder: there is no scientific rationale for this list. They’re simply my personal favorites. Coming in at number 30 is Oasis.

Oasis30at30

Oasis is in the minority among the groups that made my list in a couple of respects: they are no longer together and were based out of England. Fittingly, they share those two attributes in common with The Beatles who (SPOILER ALERT!) also will show up on my list. Oasis also credited the Beatles as their most significant influence as a band.

Oasis’ last album, Dig Out Your Soul, was released in 2008, and none of the tracks from that album made the cut for my ultimate Oasis mix. The final tracklist features songs from five different albums, led by four songs apiece from Heathen Chemistry and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?

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Introducing the 30 at 30 Project

Six months from today I will turn 30 years old. It’s a milestone birthday, and I’ve decided to commemorate it by writing about it (hopefully on a consistent basis). As my wife Jessie will tell you, I’ve been obsessing over turning 30 pretty much since the day I turned 29.

Those who know me shouldn’t be surprised at my making a big to-do about turning 30. I’m all about memorable moments—a special sports highlight, the first time I saw a particular band in concert, or a pivotal match from WrestleMania—and 30 seems symbolic to me of a new phase of adulthood.

I am very aware of the fact that I am already, today, older than both of my parents were when I was born. Even if it’s not right at 30, this will (God willing) be the decade when I start a family. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t get any bigger than that. It’s awesome, and it’s awfully intimidating. My parents set a hell of a standard to live up to.

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