OK, rather than list my top ten albums of the year, I'll list ten things I've listened to (or, in one case, haven't listened to) over the past year that mattered, and were in one way or another new to me. These are in no particular order.
1. My brief time on emusic.com. I downloaded hella stuff from them during the year ... John Fahey, Koerner Ray and Glover, Otis Rush, stuff like that.
2. Harry Belafonte, Calypso. We grew up listening to this album; in 2002, I finally got my own copy.
3. The Streets, Original Pirate Material. An example of my one-year-lateness, this was released in 2002 but hit my consciousness in 2003.
4. Missy Elliott. She's always been around, but now I know how much I like her.
5. Bruce Springsteen: This Is Your Life. An 8-disc DVD bootleg covering thirty years or so of Bruce's career. So full of amazing stuff, I'm still only 3/4 through the damn thing, and I've had it for months.
6. Amy Rigby. Not sure how it all got started, but somewhere during 2003 I started listening to Amy Rigby. Next thing I knew, I was scarfing up all her albums from her website.
7. Ian Hunter, Rant. This one's from 2001, an artist I very much loved in the 1970s, making a remarkable album many decades later.
8. Pink, Try This. Too soon really to say if I'll end up loving this, but it was highly anticipated and so far so good. Also "Free" from the flipside to the "Trouble" single.
9. MP3 mix compilations. The day of the 80-minute mix is coming to an end. Now the trick is to construct small, interesting setlists from storage media that contains tens of thousands of tunes.
10. No Sleater-Kinney. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but I don't need that kind of growth. Please come to the Bay Area in 2004. [ed. note: actually, they played SF in early February, my bad]