Rich Wilhelm

NOW That’s What I Call New Year’s Eve

In Music/Memory on January 1, 2014 at 5:10 am

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It’s late December 2013. Very late December in fact–within 30 minutes, it’ll be January 2014. A new year.

For the last few weeks I’ve been contemplating a list of my favorite albums of 2013. I’ve got a little stack of CDs that I’ve been listening to, sneaking them in among the Christmas albums. I’ve been trying to think about what I’d like to say about CDs by the likes of David Bowie, Elton John, They Might Be Giants and several others. Who knows? I may still get around to that entry, or those entries.

A funny thing happened on the way home from work tonight though. I realized that I wanted to pick up the 2013 volumes of the long-running CD compilation series, NOW That’s What I Call Music. I stopped at Wal-Mart, but they were fresh out of the all-important NOW 48, the latest in the series. However, a trip to Target satisfied my NOW needs.

I was surprised at how much I felt like I needed to hear the likes of “Suit and Tie” and “Mirrors” (both Justin Timberlake); “Blurred Lines” (Robin Thicke); “Get Lucky” (Daft Punk) and others one or two more times before the year of their original release tumbles into oblivion or, if “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year” is to be believed, takes up residence on an island in the Archipelago of Past Years. An island where “Blurred Lines” and “Get Lucky” play on an endless loop and everyone twerks without remorse.

The more I thought about my sudden NOW obsession, the more it made sense to me. While there were certainly albums I liked quite a lot this year, the fact is that radio singles played a huge part in my daily life soundtrack, moreso than they have in years. I am not sure if this is because the big hits were stronger than usual this year–though some of them, like “Get Lucky” and Timberlake’s “Mirrors” are damn great–or if my ears happened to be in the vicinity of Top 40 radio stations more often this year than in recent years.

Either way, I realized tonight that the NOW that I lived in 2013 was, more often than not, soundtracked by Big Hit Songs that were destined for this year’s NOW compilations.

In short, this evening I became acutely aware that, in some distant unknowable THEN, I’m going to hear one of these songs and it’s going to immediately transport me to 2013, a year that was good and bad, by turns, like so many years. A year when Donna and I had been married just 21 years and when Jimmy was 16 and Chris was 11.

Maybe it’s strange to put that kind of future emotional weight on the pop tunes of 2013, but I can already feel it happening. That’s why I wanted to listen to these songs one more time in the here and NOW.

Happy New Year’s, everybody.

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Patrick F. O'Donnell

writer, editor, general wordsmith and scribe

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