On our second favorites

Think about that one band you listened to when you were beginning to mature as a person. The one you adored. The one you followed to the point of fanaticism. The one that changed your outlook on music so much that it bled into every facet of your blossoming musical taste until, looking back, it managed to influence everything you listen to even today.

It was The Beatles. It was The Replacements. It was Radiohead. It was Modest Mouse. It doesn’t matter who it was – it was someone.

You still listen to that band, I bet. You still love them. At least, you appreciate them – what they meant, how they changed your outlook.

But what about the band that ultimately came in second?

It was the band that you loved ALMOST as much as your favorite. It was the Built to Spill to your Modest Mouse. The Rolling Stones to your Beatles.

Chances are, you often forget about how good that band was.

We tend to forget our second favorites, not because they’re forgettable, but because their awesomeness is so closely tied to that which we are completely devoted to. They are dwarfed by our insistence upon choosing one clear winner: one clear band that is The Most Important and, from there, tracking our progress as sentient beings.

But the feeling – that feeling, you guys – when you remember exactly why they vaulted to “second favorite” and, at times, let’s be honest, were the frontrunner for a week or so – oh, man. That feeling. Is. Awesome.

You play the album. You remember the finer points of your youth. And you realize that “second best” had just as much to do with shaping your taste as anything else.

This was lovingly handwritten on November 14th, 2010