Lately I've been listening to entire artists or albums rather than just leaving winamp on shuffle. Yesterday I went on an Iron Maiden binge, for example.
Today I browsed around until I stumbed onto an album I hadn't heard in years: Angel Rat, from Voivod.
Of course, there's a story behind this album.
As a high school student, I didn't have much in the way of musical experience. I ended up finding a college radio station out of Amherst College, where a late night DJ had a program called Disneyfist. I still remember this!
One late night while listening to Disneyfist, I dialed in and won this album. This was a major pain in the neck; I had to somehow get to Amherst and pick it up and had no car. I got it, eventually, and hell if I wasn't going to listen to it!
At first, I didn't really enjoy it much. But I didn't have as much music then as I do now (heh) so I ended up listening to it a dozen times or so and it really grew on me.
I eventually bought another one of their albums, which had a cover of Pink Floyd's Astronomy Domine, which cemented my decision that the band was something cool. I had never heard the original of course, and didn't until years later when I borrowed a Best Of album from my mother.
The story spirals out from there, of course, and it gets far less interesting (if possible).
But the entire story, and threads reaching out from it in dozens of directions, slowly filled my mind as the album progressed (peaking when the title track started). I can even summon up the smell of my bedroom when I had the album (and listened to it over and over) -- the cheap overstuffed living room chair I used as a computer desk combined with the odor of candle wax.
And that is why I love music. It's not that I particularly love this album, or this band. But how else could I so clearly summon such concrete memories of a time 15 years or so in the past?
Go buy an album and listen to it. Sometimes random shuffle just isn't the right thing to do.