I quickly grabbed a pen and scribbled down “The National” on a piece of scrap paper in my grape purple music room.
I looked at the name with a quizzical expression and said to my brother, “Who are they?”
“You just need to check them out. They’re an awesome band,” he said.
Five years ago, my brother affectionately dubbed me his musical “Padawan” since he was a “Jedi Master” teaching me in the ways of indie music.
It was part of his mission to convert me to an indie music fan, and it was working. After three Bonnaroos and two Lollapaloozas, I was getting closer to becoming an indie music “Jedi Master.”
My musical curiosity grew exponentially in 2010, and that’s when I first picked up The National’s “High Violet” album. With the songs, “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” “Terrible Love,” “Anyone’s Ghost” and “Afraid of Everyone,” the album quickly became one of my favorites.
Back in 1988, my mom brought home a coveted copy of the 1973 “Buckingham Nicks” self-titled album. She found the copy at a Detroit area record show and proudly brought it home to me.
As a budding Fleetwood Mac fan, I was awestruck. I had read about this commercially unsuccessful, but critically acclaimed album in Rolling Stone, Creem and other rock magazines as a kid.
For me, it was the crown jewel in my Fleetwood Mac vinyl album collection. I couldn’t wait to hear what Lindsey Buckingham’s and Stevie Nicks’ material sounded like before they joined my favorite band.
The album felt like a preview to Fleetwood Mac’s 1975 white album, especially because it features “Crystal.” I loved the folky, ethereal groove the album carried throughout its 10 tracks, but there was one track that stayed with me and still does today – “Frozen Love.”
One of my favorite things to do before a concert is research an artist’s setlist. I’m fascinated with seeing which songs they’ll sing – hits, deep album cuts, new tracks, covers or entire albums.
I like to think there’s a reason or story behind why those songs were selected and what they mean to the artist. Do those songs take the artist to another place and time? Do they bring a sense of renewal? Do they erupt in a chorus of cheers and screams from dedicated fans?
For me, music evokes powerful feelings and experiences. I know I’m not the only one in a crowd who feels a special connection to a lyric, song or album. That connection is what inspires me to enjoy life, people and places.
I’ve shared that inspiration with family and friends for years, but I want to share it with music fans, concert goers, vinyl collectors and artists. There’s something special about finding personal meaning in someone else’s art. It just happens to be music for me.
There are certain songs, concerts and albums that exist in my life, or setlist, as I like to call it. Each fan has a group of songs, albums and experiences that defines who they are and where they’re headed. That’s why I’m inviting you to enjoy my setlist and add your musical favorites to it.
Welcome to my setlist, the Stratton Setlist. I can’t wait to hear what’s in yours.