Because of great live music. It immerses you, it transports you, it's an excuse to get out with friends. Favorite shows of 2003: Spiritualized, The Sea & Cake and a rare and special night with the enormously talented Tin Hat Trio.
Because of great new music, and 2003 was a bumper crop. Wonderful stuff was created this year by The Bug, The Dirtbombs, Express Rising, B. Fleischmann, Four Tet, Freescha, Mojave 3, Nobody, M83, OutKast, Push Button Objects, Rachel's, Megan Reilly, Ulrich Schnauss, Spiritualized, Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros, The White Stripes.
Because of great independent record stores, which do more than their share to keep music alive. Much love to Reckless Records (Chicago), Other Music (New York), Amoeba Records (San Francisco), Lou's Records (Encinitas, Calif.), Waterloo Records (Austin, Texas) and our own hometown gem, Shake It Records in Northside.
Because of great record labels, which provide a home for artists who might not otherwise be heard. Lately, I'm a big fan of Thrill Jockey (for taking post-Rock to another level), Morr Music (for sweet, heartbreaking bedroom Electronica) and Soul Jazz and Ubiquity (for unearthing obscure, classic Reggae and Funk, respectively, and much more).
Because of the mix tape. Or mix disc, if you will. What's better than opening your mail to find a carefully assembled collection of tunes from someone who cares? Creating a mix tape for a friend or lover is good for karma. Do it today and see for yourself.
Because of cars. If you're in a car, you need good driving music. Case closed.
Because of late-night listening sessions. On several occasions, friends and I have been able, while pouring drinks and playing music for each other, to solve the greater mysteries of life. Sadly, we always forget to write the answers down.
Because songs are more powerful than books. Actually, Elvis Costello said that, and I'm not sure I completely agree. But it's an interesting position. Discuss.
Matthew Fenton is a freelancer for CityBeat.