My Brightest Diamond

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In Spring of 2014, Kristin called me at work and asked if I could meet her for lunch. It was a cold-ish day, and we met at a little Greek place south of downtown in Indianapolis. At lunch, Kristin presented me with four CDs she’d just bought that morning, and asked me if I knew what they had in common. The records were Pablo Honey by RadioheadÁgætis byrjun by Sigur Rós, Ready To Die by Notorious B.I.G., and Years of Refusal by Morissey. I actually couldn’t figure it out, but after a little prompting realized that all four album covers featured babies. She was pregnant and we were having our first child in November.

Not long after that lunch date I started working on this playlist. It started when I was moved to tears listening to Chris Staples’ song “Dark Side of the Moon” (I’m actually not even sure that song is written for a child, but for me it forever will be). I started compiling songs that were either written for/to children, or somehow represented that to me.

Since then, we’ve had another child (both boys), and things are often more hectic than not, but whenever I play these songs they remind me of the wide-eyed wonder of first becoming a parent, and how incredible it is to be entrusted with these little souls.

It’s late getting posted, but here’s my playlist about parenthood:

mp3: Chris Staples – Dark Side of the Moon

I want to love you, I want to pass it on

I want to give and give until it’s all gone

I want to know you, while we have the time

Because that’s all I’ve got to leave behind.

mp3: Mates of State – Nature And The Wreck

Lying down, I notice what you see

Below us, your arms are like the trees.

I know I haven’t said enough.

I know we haven’t said enough.

How I will protect, and how each day matters.

…I know we haven’t said enough

But I know I’ve never loved this much.

mp3: Stevie Wonder – Isn’t She Lovely

Isn’t she lovely made from love,

Isn’t she lovely?

mp3: Kanye West – Only One (feat. Paul McCartney)

Hello my only one, remember who you are

No you’re not perfect but you’re not your mistakes.

mp3: Mason Jennings – Which Way Your Heart Will Go

Where would I be right now

If all my dreams had come true

Deep down I know somehow

I’d have never seen your face.

This world would be a different place

Darling there’s no way to know

Which way your heart will go.

mp3: King Creosote – My Favourite Girl

Can I make her happy?

I guess that I have not got long

Promise you’ll tell her

She’s my favourite girl

In all the world.

mp3: Lauryn Hill – To Zion

Life for you my prince has just begun

And I thank you for choosing me

To come through unto life to be

A beautiful reflection of his grace.

mp3: Joni Mitchell – Little Green

Just a little green

Like the color when the spring is born

There’ll be crocuses to bring to school tomorrow

Just a little green

Like the night’s when the Northern lights perform

There’ll be icicles and birthday clothes

And sometimes there’ll be sorrow.

mp3: John Lennon – Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

Out on the ocean sailing away

I can hardly wait

To see you come of age

But I guess we’ll both just have to be patient

‘Cause it’s a long way to go

A hard row to hoe

Yes it’s a long way to go

But in the meantime

Before you cross the street

Take my hand

Life is what happens to you

While you’re busy making other plans.

mp3: Björk – Mouth’s Cradle

There is yet

Another one

That follows me

Wherever I go

And supports me

He always has a hope for me

Always sees me when nothing else

And everyone have left

Can care

That ghost is brighter than anyone

And fulfills me with hope

Those beams assure me.

mp3: Low – In Metal

Partly hate to see you grow

And just like your baby shoes

Wish I could keep your little body

In metal.

mp3: Cat Stevens – Oh Very Young

Oh very young, what will you leave us this time

You’re only dancin’ on this earth for a short while,

And though your dreams may toss and turn you now

They will vanish away like your dad’s best jeans.

Will you carry the words of love with you?

mp3: Bob Dylan – Forever Young

May you grow up to be righteous,

May you grow up to be true,

May you always know the truth,

And see the lights surrounding you.

May you always be courageous,

Stand upright and be strong,

May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy,

May your feet always be swift,

May you have a strong foundation

When the winds of changes shift.

May your heart always be joyful,

May your song always be sung,

May you stay forever young.

mp3: Mason Jennings – If You Ain’t Got Love

At nine in the morning

After nine months of waiting

You were born and I saw your face

And you looked up at me.

…Someday, someday soon

You and I will both be gone

And lately, I can’t help but think

That the love we feel will live on.

mp3: Ben Sollee & Daniel Martin Moore – Try

I can’t wait to hold your little hand

…How to give it all to someone not yet born

That must be how

We’ve learned to love.

mp3: My Brightest Diamond – I Have Never Loved Someone

I have never loved someone

The way I love you

I have never seen a smile

Like yours

And if you grow up to be a king, or clown, or pauper,

I will say you are my favorite one in town.

I have never held a hand

So soft and sacred,

When I hear you laugh

I know heaven’s key,

And when I grow to be a poppy in the graveyard

I will send you all my love upon the breeze.

And if the breeze won’t blow your way

I will be the sun

And if the sun won’t shine your way

I will be the rain.

And if the rain won’t wash away

All your aches and pains,

I will find some other way

To tell you you’re okay.

You’re okay.

mp3: King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Your Young Voice

It’s your young voice that’s keeping me holding on to my dull life.

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It’s been pretty quiet around here for awhile (so quiet that we’re pretty sure just our mom’s are checking this thing at this point) (hi moms!), but even though we haven’t been writing all that much, we promise we’ve still been listening to loads of good music. So putting this list together has been a good chance for us to finally put down how we feel about some of the great stuff we’ve heard this year. We just hope it’s as fun for you to browse through as it was for us to pull together!

Before reading on, just a quick note about a record that’s not on this list: The Head & The Heart’s debut record saw a major label release this year (on Sub Pop), and although we’ve probably listened to that absolute gem of a record more than just about any other this year, we didn’t include it on account of it being on our year-end list for 2010, since they self-released it that year. But just know this: under different circumstances, The Head & The Heart would most certainly top this list. So if you haven’t heard them yet, let that be your invitation! Because they are so great!

So with that out of the way, we’re ready to unveil our Top 21 Albums of 2011. Just remember that this list represents our favorite albums of the year, and not necessarily the best albums of the year. If we had to pick what we thought were the very best albums critically, this list might look a little different. But we’re not critics, so we’re not going to worry about who made the greatest artistic strides or whatever this year. These are simply our very favorite albums of the year: the ones that made us laugh, cry, dance, smile, press repeat, wet our pants, etc. Basically, this is what we’ll remember when we look back on 2011.

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