An album a day keeps the blues away

Student uses new music to get through last year’s uncertainties

An album a day keeps the blues away

Taylor Schutt, Contributing Writer

The common saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” has been preached to society numerous times. During a time when the world seems like it’s falling apart, an apple a day just won’t do. So how can you spice things up each day and have something to look forward to? Take the advice from my friend and listen to a different album every single day. Not only does this provide some structure and solid plans, but it can also push you out of your comfort zone.

Start with your favorite album or one you’ve been meaning to listen to. Maybe stay comfortable for the first week if that’s what you want. After a couple of days, try something new. Try a different artist. Try a different genre. Hell, even try a different era. Whatever you do, make sure you finish at least one full album each day. If you don’t like your choice, pick another one and try again. Keep a list of the albums you want to try out and check them off once you’ve listened to them. That way, if the only thing you did during the day was listening to one full album, then at least you achieved something! During the pandemic, every day tends to feel the same as the last. With an album a day, one has something to look forward to and the ability to set small goals.

I listen to a lot of rock and roll, but I decided to dive headfirst into Kendrick Lamar’s album “To Pimp a Butterfly” (2015). The only song I knew going in was “King Kunta”, with its funky beats, catchy chorus, and powerful lyrics. Nonetheless, I didn’t expect anything that I heard while listening to the album. Each song has meaning and each lyric was crafted meticulously to tell the story of racism and oppression in the United States. I may not be incredibly into rap or hip-hop, but Lamar created an outstanding album that highlights key issues in our society. The year 2020 was a hot mess, to say the least. Lamar’s album is as important now as it was in 2015.

At the end of the album, Lamar inserts an imitated interview with the famous Tupac Shakur in which they discuss systematic racism and police brutality. While I listened, my arms were coated in goosebumps as Tupac said “I think that [expletive] is tired of grabbin’ shit out the stores and next time it’s a riot there’s gonna be, like, uh, bloodshed for real. I don’t think America knows that.” All I could think about were the Black Lives Matter protests that occurred about a year ago across the country. All I could think about were the strong POC fighting for equal rights and treatment. All I could think about was how Tupac was completely right. There was looting. There was bloodshed. There was death.

Listening to “To Pimp a Butterfly” not only opened my ears to a new genre of music, but it also opened my mind to the current social and political controversies in the United States. Yes, I was uncomfortable at times because I felt like I was listening in on someone’s life story. However, I became comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. I found understanding and empathy in the life of Lamar that I would not have gained if I hadn’t listened to the entire album. When I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I gained a lot of respect for Lamar and the other artists in his genre that I didn’t have before. I felt like I actually achieved something.

An album a day makes me look forward to the next album and every tomorrow without getting my hopes up too high. It provides comfort and stability during this time when these feelings are rare. It exposes me to different music and surprises my tastes. During this time of uncertainty and anxiety, an album a day helps to keep the blues away.