Narrowing down the year's best songs into a fashionable list is a difficult task to take on. It's bad enough trying to figure out this year's best albums, and it's even more difficult to pick out individual songs, especially picking a single song that makes the whole year shine.
As we wrap up 2007, however, there's one song that sticks out to me more than any other. It's a song that's meant more to me than any other this year, and it's a song that I feel summarizes the reasons why I fell in love with music. For some reason, all of the pieces to this song just fit so well.
Appropriately enough, Radiohead's "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" is my choice for 2007's song of the year. It is, in my opinion, Radiohead's climactic peak artistically and musically, a song that ties in everything Radiohead has done and everything Radiohead has yet to do. It borrows from the past while reveling in the present, and suggests what is to come: a band that has recognized a new musical phase and is ready to reach new heights.
My first experience with Radiohead goes back to the summer of 2001. I was seventeen and, thanks to my Dad's job that took our family overseas, I was living in England. The escape from my mundane life in Central Illinois was a welcome change, but I was experiencing constant culture shock and felt particularly isolated and alone that summer. Luckily, I had my guitar and a four-track recording system I borrowed from a neighbor friend, and tons of time after school to write and record various songs I had written over the years. It was a time in my life where I finally started to take music seriously, enjoying bands like Pink Floyd and Pearl Jam (my favorite at the time) with more depth and understanding than ever before. I finally saw rock music as more than just a release from the mundane or a call to social rebellion, but as a true art form, and one that can entirely move the soul.
It was around that time that I borrowed a taped recording of Radiohead's sophomore release The Bends, and it completely changed my view of the band that, at the time, was making computer noises on Kid A and Amnesiac (I have since fallen in love with these two albums, but at the time I couldn't stand them). The Bends was different: its combination of loud guitars and atmospheric noise stuck with me, and I couldn't have enough of the album. I spent the rest of that summer writing bad ripoff songs that sounded too much like "My Iron Lung" and "Fake Plastic Trees," but it wasn't the music itself that got me through that melancholy summer, it was the act of discovery--finding something completely new, something I'd never heard before, that I could call my own.