MUSIC – Obsessively Fall-ing

Fall Playlist By Leigh Brown

Fall is a reflective time for me. For a lot of people, I think. Much more so than New Year’s Eve, where it’s more about being pressured into it being a meaningful celebration (with others), than actually being meaningful. For me, anyway.

There’s something about the cool, freshness in the air (which is funny because everything’s about to die and wither for the winter), and the shifting colours of the landscape, that always makes me reflect on my whole year, and my whole self. It is the “New Year’s Eve” of self (usually celebrated alone), I say.

Is it because the majority of our lives, we got to become a new version of ourselves every year, on the first day of school? A self that we spent all summer creating? Or is it because the changing leaves are a sign that another years’ end is approaching, so we look back, almost in nostalgia?

Trying to come up with a music piece for this issue, in this state of mind, was a challenge. (Especially because I’m more of a music enthusiast than a music writer, let’s be honest.)

I had been listening to my two new favorite releases in recent months, ad nauseum, and I knew that I wanted to somehow include them, so I told myself (and my friends) that I was listening so hard and repetitively because I wanted to review them. I soon realized that I was ONLY listening to those two albums, to a point where loved ones rolled their eyes at me every time they got in my car…walked in my house…and poor dears, went to a cottage with me for FOUR DAYS. I was only listening to those two albums and nothing else that I could have made into a fall list. I was in obsessive mode.

Which brings me to my point.

Upon some fall-time reflection, I realized that I’m the kind of person that gets, and always has gotten, OBSESSED with music. I’ve carried a music device with me, every day for as long as I can remember and would have it on, in every spare minute I had: first the generic black tape player, the Sony Sport Walkman, portable CD players, then (praise the universe, dreams do come true), the mp3 player. I had one in my ears at any chance I could get – like a good book that you sneak away to see what happens next, that was me with my music obsessions (it also didn’t hurt that I was a secret introvert and my walkman was my alone time). Getting fully wrapped up in a song or an album, creating a soundtrack for life, is a high that I’ve been chasing ever since.

So here, for your listening (and perhaps nostalgic) pleasure, is a list of some music that I became obsessed with during the first signs of this addictive condition, my youth. (if I did this article over a lifetime, we’d be here a while).

*Disclaimer: I fully recognize that this piece runs the risk of revealing my age group)

Spotify playlist here:


Madonna – True Blue


This was the first album that I ever went out to the store for and bought myself (I think, with some birthday money). I don’t have many crystal clear memories but right now as I write this, I can see it in my mind’s eye, what it looked and felt like as her face (and perfect jawline) got closer and closer to me walking towards that cassette rack. I had never seen or heard anyone like Madonna before. She felt a little dangerous (yet oddly somewhat parent-approved – at the time anyway) and she was HOT (what I thought to be admiration at the time, I now know, was not).

I learned every song, inside out, which made me the clear winner of every air-band contest in every kid’s strobe-lit basement, obviously.

**confession: I once did a performance (air-band) in public, at a fair to Debbie Gibson’s “Shake your Love”.

Particularly excessive replay: Open your Heart , Live to Tell, White Heat (I even spoke the intro and had a WHOLE routine for this)

P.S. I just watched this for the first time. It’s hilarious


Morrissey – Bona Drag


Despite my deep obsession with Depeche Mode & The Cure around this time, I never wanted to BE Dave Gahan or Robert Smith. Morrissey was different. This was my introduction to his solo work and I loved everything about this album. Morrissey’s voice, lyrics and his ability to make a heavy story (or slap across the face) sound hopeful, almost delightful – I liked HIM. Not in a crush way (surprise surprise).  I think I wanted to BE him; imagining myself to be the romantic & handsome, brooding singer, while I sang at the top of my lungs, along with my boom box, by my room’s pink lamp-light.

Particularly excessive replay: Piccadilly Pilare, Interesting Drug, Ouija Board Ouija Board, Disappointed)


Ani Difranco – self titled


Along with some significant help from Tori Amos’ “Little Earthquakes”, Ani Difranco really helped show me who I was.

This was my first introduction to Ani, followed very soon by my first Ani show, and thus became a decade long obsession with every song & every album (which, lucky for me, they were almost annual). Knowing every single Ani Difranco song from then on (until the early 2000s, anyway) gave name to different sides of myself that were surfacing as a teen, almost giving permission for them to bloom. My sexuality, sexual self (hello, Both Hands), my feminist self and my musical self. Also, I liked her. And this time, I do mean in a crush way.

*Confession: A few years before coming out, I told my friend that I would “be gay for Ani” while we watched her play a small stage at a folk festival.

**I KNOW that I’m not alone in this, so if any of you are going to relate to this article at all, it’s going to be now.

Particularly excessive replay: “Both Hands”, “Dog Coffee”, “Fire Door”


Fleetwood Mac – Rumours


I have very specific memories of this playing on repeat (cassette turning after cassette turning) on my Sony Sport, while I walked to school every day; a new school, in a new province. Missing my old singing group back in the Prairies, I remember trying to separate all the parts in my mind: “who’s voice is that?”, “what is that instrument?”, “is that another voice in the background?” It was only this year, when I had to go Round Two on my Rumours obsession in order to prepare to play Christine McVie in a Fleetwood Mac cover band show, that I realized that there was still more to discover in this album. It is so multi-layered and complex that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anything else like it since. Even still, after overdoing the obsession, twice-over, it’s a lifelong favourite.

Particularly excessive replay: Second Hand News, Dreams, The Chain


Portishead – Dummy


As a young person, I thought this album was the sexiest thing I had ever heard and also a sound that I’d never experienced before. The obsession with this album was the first of its kind: it was a shared experience. I had my very first girlfriend and we listened to this album together, on repeat (if you know what I mean).

Particularly excessive replay: the whole damn thing (too busy making out)


Oh, if you’re wondering what’s hooking me these days (see above), take a good listen to these two new releases. See for yourself – they are true, brilliant gems. I hope they offer you even a fraction of the obsessive pleasure they do me.

Anderson .Paak – Malibu


Frank Ocean – Blonde



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