I don’t know what was going on in your 2002, whether it was awesome or nightmarish, productive or totally forgettable, but that year had an interesting soundtrack for whatever was or wasn’t happening in your life. Justin Timberlake was filling the vacant but obligatory blue-eyed soul singer slot with his first post-boy band effort, and skinny Cam’ron reemerged with “Oh Boy,” which I kept on merciless repeat on the after-factory CD player in my jaunty little Honda Civic.
But that year, in the first week of April, the musical heavens also opened up and dropped down Southern Hummingbird, the debut project from Tweet. To this day, I can still shuffle through any of the 16 or 17 tracks of ear candy (depending on what version you have) and hit on a song I love. Maybe because I have a special connection to the music. “Complain” and “Always Will” got me through the first half of a really bad breakup, right at the part where your heart aches so much that it actually, physically starts hurting. That part.
Then “Beautiful” and “Heaven,” which may very well be my favorite song in the whole lineup, picked up the other half of the sorrow fest, until self-pity and wallowing kind of dried up and whisked away like dumb ex-boyfriend dandelion dust and I was ready to believe in the possibility of falling in love again. You know, after several months of being a bitter woman on the rebound.
Last Monday marked the 10-year anniversary of the release of Southern Hummingbird, and even though it went gold within a month, I never felt like it—or the songbird behind it, for that matter—got the interest it deserved for its breathy honesty, emotion and artistry. I’m not sure why some so-so albums skyrocket to best-of-all-time infamy or chart-topping success and others that are clearly excellent get quietly relegated to small but devoted cult followings. I feel the same way about First Born Second by Bilal and Teedra Moses’ Complex Simplicity which, in my little corner of the world, are two other classics I would need to have tucked in my suitcase if that if-I-was-on-a-desert-island scenario ever unfortunately became reality.
In some instances, I guess suckish promotion is to blame. The corporate machine can offer Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and Amber Rose a romp in the studio and throw money behind the Ying Yang Twins’ tomfoolery—I’m pausing to regret saying their name aloud for surely this means they’ll sense that someone misses them and launch a comeback effort post haste—but musical gold has to be discovered, but not necessarily spoonfed. And that’s a real shame because not everyone has the energy or interest to find the material that they really need to hear. If all you listen to is the radio, you’d think the only artists worth their air time would be Drake, Rihanna and Chris Brown. Lord mute my ears if I have to sit through “Birthday Cake” one more time.
But that’s a fairy dreamland of open airwaves and equal artist billing. And it’s not looking like it’s going to get any better. Ah, c’est le vie. I light a happy anniversary candle for your decade-old masterpiece, Tweet. Southern Hummingbird may be your magnum opus; maybe not. I hear another album has been in the works for quite some time but everybody knows that the longer an artist stays off the scene, no matter how fervent their band of supporters is, it’s that much harder to come back with any type of relevancy. Until then, the 10-year classic remains in heavy rotation in my house. Still a life soundtrack after all this time.
What old albums do you keep in constant rotation?