Another Take on Comfort Albums

1 Oct

Another esteemed dummy-contributor to this blog wrote a piece that I loved about comfort albums, those albums that are consistently there to warm your day or night and always come through in a clutch.  Albums that you return to again and again throughout the years, and are always a welcome sound in your ear buds.  This got me thinking about a different kind of comfort album.  To me, a comfort album requires a hefty bit of nostalgia.  A comfort album is one that you reserve only for special occasions when you need to be reminded of a certain time or place in your life.   It’s magical, the way music can instantly bring you back to a lost season of contentment or the feel of a certain someone’s skin.


I listened to Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange on repeat during the summer of 2012.  And when I say repeat, I mean REPEAT.  I listened to it incessantly.  I listened to it through headphones everyday on my walk to and from work.  I listened to it in my apartment when I woke up and got home.  I listened to certain songs to fall asleep and certain songs to get ready to party.  My friend Ryan and I listened to it while we cooked dinner every night.  We listened to it on our tiny iphone speakers in cabs on the way home from bars.  We sang our favorite songs to each other when we passed in the hallway at work or in our apartment building.  “Thinkin’ About You,” was referred to as “our” song(despite the fact that he put it on his sleepytime playlist, a misleading title, as it was composed of songs that are good to get down to, mostly D’Angelo, and he told me that another girl gave him a mouth hug to “our” frank ocean tune)



It’s been a year since Channel Orange came out.  I’ve still listened to if often over the course of this year.  Sierra Leone is on my sleepytime playlist(a mix actually intended for the purpose of inducing sleep).  Super Rich Kids gives me a good Earl Sweatshirt fix until his latest album comes out.  Pink Matter has a cameo from Andre 3000, which are all too rare these days.  It’s a brilliant album.  It’s honest and smart and easy to groove to and beautifully sung.  I love it.

And these days, I’m so glad I made the choice to listen to that album almost non-stop.  Because when it comes up on my shuffle, I am instantly transported.  I am walking by myself on the Tancheon river path preparing myself for a day with 10 five year olds.  Korea in the summertime is hot and muggy and rainy, and largely unpleasant.  Frank Ocean is in my ears and I don’t care about the hot air pressing in on me.  I’m sweaty and I can feel my bangs curling up in the humidity and I’m going over what I need to do for my class.  Or I’m at school and surrounded by my beloved Korean babies and Ryan comes in to wash his hands so they don’t smell like cigarettes after a smoke break and sings a couple strands on his way out.  Or it’s Saturday at 4 pm and we woke up one hour ago and we’re eating Pizza School and drinking Dry Finish beer and Gatorade, drawing on the windows in dry erase marker while Cleopatra plays in the background.  Or it’s 3 am and we’re full of delicious meat and kimchijjigae, forcing Areum to play it on the loud speakers at the bar we go to every Friday night.


I have to be careful not to listen to Frank that much these days.  I want to forever be able to put his music in my ears and remember that time so viscerally.   Channel Orange isn’t the only album that has this power over me, but it’s my most recent one.  You know those albums, or those songs, that are so specific to a certain time in your life that each chord virtually transports you through time? What albums/songs do that for you?

Caitie Hannan


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