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5 Reasons to Listen to Full Albums

5 Reasons to Listen to Full Albums

You probably have a pretentious friend who always listens to albums in their entirety and avoids singles like the plague. Hell, maybe you ARE that pretentious friend – I know I am. But on behalf of music-addled dorks the world over I thought I’d do an article listing five reasons why it’s better to listen to albums in their entirety rather than just a playlist of singles from artists you like. Sure, it may not give you the sense of immediate gratification but in the long run you will learn to appreciate albums.

1. You discover deep cuts

This is the most obvious reason to listen to full albums – and yet one that is often severely underrated. For the uninitiated a “deep cut” is a track that appears deep within the record. In the days when vinyl was king, the singles would often fall at the beginning of a side and thus as the needle moved closer towards the center of the vinyl, you’d find yourself listening to deeper tracks. The point being – a lot of these tracks would end up getting ignored by the general public, and yet sometimes they were the best songs on the record.

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For me the love of deep cuts began early, when I was 12 years old and listening to Black Sabbath constantly. I was enamored with songs like Hand of Doom and Killing Yourself to Live, both tracks that fell right in the middle of their respective records. These tracks have become some of my favorite of all time and are a huge part of what makes those records so gosh darned enjoyable, even now, seven years into my Black Sabbath worship. These tracks are a key part of the listening experience and allow you to truly immerse yourself in an artist you love – which leads nicely to our next point.

2. You get a broader sense of the artists intention

This has always been a big one for me – and it might just be the result of years as a music writer. The point being – few things are as exciting to me as really digging into the mind of one of my favorite musicians. While interviewing a band is a great way to do that – it’s sometimes just as effective to go in and simply listen. There is a lost art of spending time with the music and reveling in the art. There is a very real poetry to the flow of an album like Pet Sounds, it’s just a matter of giving yourself the time to dig into it.

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As you find yourself more deeply immersed ino the music you start to get a feel for what the artist was really trying to say with a specific record. For example – if you only know the two big songs from Led Zeppelin III, that is to say Immigrant Song and Tangerine you probably would never be able to get a better grasp of the folk side of Led Zeppelin – which in turn detracts from your appreciation of other Led Zeppelin mega-hits like Over the Hills and Far Away, or of course Stairway to Heaven. I’m not saying a deeper understanding of those songs is not possible just by treating them as confined entities – but I will say it is a damn sight harder.

3.It leads to a deeper connection with the artist

As someone who makes their living as “that guy who loves music” I always find it frustrating when somebody says “Oh I really like that band” and then admit to having never have listened to a full record by the artist. We touched on this in the previous point – but getting a sense for the artists intention is only the beginning. Getting a deeper connection with the artist is for many the true goal of listening to full albums.

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For most of us, becoming friends with our favorite artists is an impossibility – and yet we desperately want to have a connection with them. And after all – interviews can only take you so far into the artist’s head. The point I’m trying to make is that by listening to whole albums you start to get a sense for what makes an artist tick, their passions, their lost loves, and their forgotten dreams – and this is where you get into a true love for the music, a love that might even rival that of your pretentious friend.

4. Music makes more sense as an entity

This one might be hard for some people to believe, but I assure you, even for non-musicians, listening to records from front to back helps to unveil the true power of the art form. It allows you to get a better sense for how a lot of artists construct their records. Mike Scheidt from Yob, Rolling Stone Magazine’s favorite metal band of 2014 once said to me, “I write albums in movements”. This was of course referring to classical period musicians, but here’s the thing – a lot of musicians do that, and the way albums flow hasn’t changed much from Beethoven’s 200 year-old symphonies.

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As you start to get a sense for this, and some of the other moments of ebb and flow that help to make entire albums so attractive you start to get a better sensibility for what’s rad and what isn’t. As your taste for music develops, so does your overall understanding of the art form and that makes the entire experience more rewarding. If that isn’t enough of a motivation to listen to full albums, then I don’t know what is.

5. Your own music gets better

If you got this far into the article you’re probably a musician of some sort, which is awesome! I mentioned earlier in this article that a lot of musicians tend to listen to full albums rather than just the singles and the reason for that is simple. The thing is – when music starts to make more sense as a creation in and of itself it gives you a stronger idea of how to compose and set up music in a meaningful way. As your knowledge and the depth of your understanding of your heroes grows, your ability to create work that truly matters to people will only expand with it.

Becoming a talented musician is one of the greatest things you can do simply for your own personal development, and engaging with that on a high level, as one does by listening to full albums only allows you to grow more. The deeper your understanding of the purifying artistry of music becomes the easier it becomes to honor the inherent magic of the art form. If you just listen to singles it’s a lot harder to come to these sorts of conclusions. As Frank Zappa once said “Music is the best” and I feel the deeper you delve the more this truth becomes self evident.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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