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Our Music Year an inspirational, communal experience

By From page B1 | January 04, 2013

Music is the connective tissue for so many aspects of my life.

Even in my head, I have cataloged the likes and dislikes of certain friends. Becky digs Wilco, Ross has traversed the nation to see Rush, and Matt, for reasons I’m still not sure I understand, listens to Kylie Minogue.

On Monday, I completed Our Music Year, a 2012 project to listen to and review an album I’d never heard before every day for one year.

Now that it’s all over, I feel this connectivity stronger than ever.

The project was named Our Music Year in honor of late comic book author Harvey Pekar, who penned the graphic novels “Our Cancer Year” and “Our Movie Year” after his battle with prostate cancer and film adaptation of his comic, “American Splendor.”

I kept the wording in the Pekar style – Our Music Year instead of My Music Year – because I liked the cooperative attitude it reflected. Music is not an individual experience, but a cultural one.

It spoke to the communal aspect of listening. I invited friends as well as colleagues and co-workers to suggest albums.

The project changed me and affected the lives of people I know.

Our Music Year was a massive undertaking. I’ve amassed a bunch of statistics for the truly curious – longest album, oldest LP, most-common grade, etc. – at the bottom of this entry. I estimate I wrote upward of 70,000 words in my 200-words-or-less daily reviews of each record.

There were days I resented it, but, on days such as that March 2012 day when I thrashed around my living room while enjoying Slayer’s “Reign in Blood” for the first time, there were times when I relished setting such a zany goal.

Having listened to 366 albums in 366 days, I’m awed and overwhelmed by mankind’s creativity. We are so hungry to communicate with one another and music is such a fertile medium. The means some artists use to express themselves and develop their work amazes me.

What amazed me most of all, however, was how Our Music Year inspired other people in ways I never imagined.

I knew inviting friends to participate and discuss the daily albums would spark conversation. Friends and colleagues had endless suggestions and support, some of whom were inspired to try new things by my determination to listen to as many different artists as I could (331) in styles ranging from teen pop to progressive black metal.

But that was only part of the communal aspect of Our Music Year.

The project even inspired my friend and fellow music scribe April Siese to attempt the Big Music Challenge in December, writing about every public relations release and music-related email she received. I was stunned when she told me about it. I’m really proud of her for achieving her goal.

I’m also proud of one of my oldest and closest friends, Sean Donovan, who confessed to me on New Year’s Day that the daily Our Music Year entries were motivation in his fight to lose weight. Sean dropped close to 70 pounds in 2012. In a chicken-or-egg game of inspiration, Sean’s lifestyle has encouraged me to live healthier in 2013.

I didn’t set out to inspire people or impact any lives, even my own. I just thought it sounded like a silly, fun idea.

Music is vital and communal. It’s a language we can all speak even if we don’t know the words, but I am humbled and surprised, nonetheless.

Thanks to everyone who suggested an album, read an entry or made a record for me to hear.

Now, after a year of mostly sitting inside and listening to records, I think I’m going to go for a long walk – with my iPod, of course.

Those who missed Our Music Year in its initial run can see the Daily Republic’s encore presentation on the entertainment page or on the Daily Republic website.

To read more of Nick DeCicco’s blogs, visit http://dailyrepublic.typepad.com/forthoseabouttorock. Follow him on Twitter @ndeciccodr.

Longest album: Phish, “LivePhish Vol. 15: 10.31.96″ (3 hours, 39 minutes, 7 seconds)

Shortest album: Hüsker Dü, “Everything Falls Apart” (19 minutes, 25 seconds)

Oldest album: Woody Guthrie, “Dust Bowl Ballads” (1940)

Newest album: Big Boi, “Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors” (Dec. 11, 2012)

Oldest recording: Lead Belly, “King of the 12-String Guitar” (1935, released 1991)

Total artists: 331

Most common grade: B- (71)

Most common decade: 2010-2012 (154, 119 from 2012)

Estimated time total: 14,640 minutes; 244 hours; 10.16 days (avg. 40 minutes/day)

Estimated words written: 69,540 (avg. 190 words/review)

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.
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