Giving thanks for good music

Sarah Contreras

On Thanksgiving, I will be curled up on my sofa, watching Elf and The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (me plus Ken Burns equals homies for life). I’ll be reading for fun and drinking coffee spiked with Bailey’s. I’ll be eating the leftovers from Wednesday’s “Friendsgiving” feast, and I’ll be high-fiving my boyfriend every time we drop a Modern Family quote into casual conversation, because we’re cool like that.

But, more importantly, amid the piles of squishy blankets and books and Blu-ray cases, I will be reflecting on the things I am thankful for this year. I have friends whom I adore, a roof over my head, a job that pays the bills (barely, but a job is a job), and my health is generally intact. I am grateful that 2012 gave me more chances to triumph, fail, eat, laugh and—wait for it—listen.

Yes, this past year was yet another I got to spend loving music with all of my heart. I am deeply, deeply thankful that through all of the year’s ups and downs, I was buoyed by albums, concerts and catchy singles. Allow me to use this post to wax poetic about all of the wonderful musical memories 2012 has given me.



Good gracious, am I thankful for this galloping, dapperly-dressed little Korean man. I am thankful for Gangnam Style and how it has only encouraged my love for fleeting, self-aware pop music. I am thankful that my pop culture trivia team named itself Dress Classy, Dance Cheesy—a line from Psy as he taught Britney Spears how to imitate his signature dance move.

My Apartment’s Record Player:

When I moved into my current apartment, I was able to contribute useful things like a blender, a toaster and a Playstation 3. But my roommate brought something even more awesome: a record player. For years, I’ve wanted to build up a vinyl collection but was reluctant to do so because I lacked a way to listen to albums. That is no longer the case. I now know the glory of listening to Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on 180-gram vinyl, and for that I will forever be grateful.

July 8, 2012.

Speaking of Wilco, 2012 will go down as The Year I Finally Saw Wilco in Concert. Holy crap. As their shows sell out with alarming speed, especially in the Chicago area (hometown heroes!), I never thought I’d be able to get my hands on a Wilco ticket. But this year, after a $65 impulse purchase and four months of waiting, I did it. I stood with more than 15,000 Wilco fans—it was the band’s biggest headlining gig ever—on a perfect summer night and rocked my heart out. I’m sure I don’t have to go into too much detail for you to know how amazing/electric/life-affirming the experience was.

The Year of Death Cab for Cutie:

I am thankful that this year, I was able to see Death Cab for Cutie in concert three times. Okay, one of those concerts was a Ben Gibbard solo show, but I count it. Three times! I doubled the amount of times I’ve seen them in concert in only eight months! In April, I attended Death Cab’s show at the Chicago Theatre, where they were accompanied by the Magik*Magik Orchestra. It was astounding. Then, a few months later, I pressed myself up against a wooden gate at the Taste of Chicago, waiting for a free Death Cab show with what felt like most of Chicago’s twentys-somethings. Four months after that, my boyfriend presented me with tickets to Gibbard’s solo show at the Athenaeum Theatre in Chicago. All three shows reminded me why I’ve loved this band for the past seven years, and all three were incredible experiences. If I can never make another Death Cab for Cutie concert in my life, I will be thankful for 2012 and the string of concerts I was able to attend.

I could go on for days, but there are cranberry-walnut banana bread muffins to be made. I hope you take the time to think on all the things you are thankful for this year. Remember how much of a gift the consumption of culture is, and hold on to your best memories.