Top 10 Favorite Albums of Each Decade

This is my most stupidly broad Top 10 list undertaking to date. As I started to see folks’ Top-10-(whatever)-of-the-Decade lists, I thought “gee, what are MY 10 favorite albums of the decade?” That was harmless enough, except then I thought “gee, I never compiled my top 10 albums of the 2000s either.” And so on, until I realized that I needed to break it on down by decade going ALL the way back to the 1950s, the first decade when LPs were a thing.

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Love as Palliative Care

December is for many a time of joy, and one of the most joyous things about it is the glee of young people and, in many cases, the way the milestone of an annual holiday allows us to chart and reflect on their trajectories of growth. While I will invariably experience some of that in the coming weeks, for me the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 forever marred the holiday season. One more specific element of that is that (at the risk of sounding particularly morbid, but I’m just trying to be sincere) I can no longer look at young people without some part of me consciously acknowledging the possibility that they may not grow up. I recognize the privilege that allowed me to make it until the morning of my 39th birthday with that aspect of mortality and frailty remaining an abstraction, but so it went that until then I took growing up for granted. As a result, I have grappled ever since with how to keep my heart open and keep my spirit of nurturing undiminished within that awareness that everyone I know will die and some of them will do so way too soon. It is through this inner turmoil that I began contemplating the notion of love as a form of palliative care.

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Top 10 Favorite Criss Cross Records Tracks

This weekend came the news of the passing of Gerry Teekens, the head of the Dutch jazz label Criss Cross Records. I never personally recorded on a Criss Cross session, but what I heard about Gerry was pretty consistent: he liked the music he liked, he ran the label how he ran it, and through it all spent nearly 40 years as an important shepherd to so many wonderful jazz musicians, many of them either being given their first opportunities to record or being documented at a time when bigger labels were not interested.

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Which Voice Do I Obey?

I’ve been thinking about how we all have multiple inner voices giving us perspectives that have varying degrees of present-moment relevance, healthiness, and so on. Listening to our intuition is useful only insofar as we are confident that said intuition is coming from a solid foundation.

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Millet Brick and Pursuit of the Best Self

I have often referred to Kate as my best critic and pointed out how much I enjoy and appreciate that. While that’s true, I think it’s worth some explanation. It’s not that she just criticizes me often or indiscriminately, or that I just perversely enjoy having my flaws pointed out. Rather, I fully trust her embrace of the responsibility to help me be my best self, something that was central to our marriage vows and remains core to our code of ethics as individuals and together and core to my needs from my support structure, especially the person at the center of it.

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Top 10 Nat “King” Cole Tracks

I discovered Nat “King” Cole’s trio work early enough in my developmental process that I can’t really imagine my conception of a) swing, b) touch at the piano, or c) jazz as a vehicle for fun without his music. It’s weird for the same musician to be simultaneously hugely famous and totally underrated, but so it goes for the King, a widely-admired singer whose instrumental prowess and influence are known by far fewer. A day after his centennial, I’m still reflecting on some of his music (particularly alongside guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Johnny Miller in the classic drum-less trio) that particularly shaped my own burgeoning musicianship – here’s some of it.

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