New York magazine recently published a “definitive” culture guide. One of their many features included "60 Great Albums You Probably Haven’t Heard." And you know what? I haven’t heard most of them. What an exciting challenge! There were only a couple that I did, my favorites being Brigitte Fontaine’s Comme a la Radio (which my friend Max first introduced to me), Cymande’s self-titled release, Jane Birkin’s Di Doo Dah, and Ivy’s Apartment Life.
I read this on the bus and I squealed (I did!) when I read their brief synopsis of Ivy’s Apartment Life, an album that defined for me “city life.” For an album so definitive to me for so long, I was surprised to realize I had forgotten how much it meant to me. It is dreamy, wistful, quiet, endlessly romantic, just cinematic from start to finish. You can imagine the settings of your life in each song: eating breakfast with a lover in your tiny kitchen, spending a lazy Sunday in bed, losing track of time in your favorite coffee shop, long long long walks.
And, look at that album cover. The young woman behind the compact, getting ready for the life she is about to live, going about her day-to-day tasks. And the promotional image below, the small table in the kitchen, the rusted pots hanging from the wall. All of the symbols were there for a life to be lived.
I first heard “I’ve Got a Feeling” on Felicity, a show that also (yet, of course, inaccurately) defined “city life” for me. When I first moved back to the city eight years ago after a decade away, I harbored unrealistic, romantic, hopeful ideas of what my time would mean here as an 18, a 19, a 20-year old woman.
Now I am 26. Things of course didn’t go as planned. The apartments were never as big as I wanted. Love never came easy. I never did make my way to New York like I planned. But, a lot of things fell into place, things I didn’t think would matter as much to me as they have. For one, I learned a hell of a lot about the world and myself. I have few regrets. I know people say you should have no regrets, that life is healthier and easier that way. But I look back and looking back brews a least a little emphasis on the “what ifs.” That’s okay for right now.