A few months ago, I wrote a column charging America to keep music as a vital part of our lives (See: "Music can save your mortal soul") See, I've always thought that music is an integral part of life. Music's a huge part of my life. There's rarely a time where you can't find me without music in the background.


A few months ago, I wrote a column charging America to keep music as a vital part of our lives (See: "Music can save your mortal soul") See, I've always thought that music is an integral part of life. Music's a huge part of my life. There's rarely a time where you can't find me without music in the background.
And I got to thinking about some of the music that's most important in my life. I always have a song for every moment. I think we all should. Furthermore, I think we all have a few albums that define our lives, and I figured I'd take this week to visit a couple of my favorites.
Some of these bring back personal experiences; others are just musically brilliant. But they're probably my top five "favorite" albums of all time (notice I didn't say best albums of all time).
Disclaimer: Many of these CDs are from within the last decade, except for the last one. That doesn't mean they're not good.
"Move Along," by the All American Rejects  When this album came out, way back in 2005, I was still listening to the band's first, self-titled album. Their new album came as a surprise to me (this was back before I knew the true capabilties of the Internet), and I actually heard about it while en route to a vacation to Hershey, Pa. Needless to say, during the course of the vacation, I made my family stop at a record store just so I could buy the CD.
Now, I'll admit I can't remember much from that vacation, other than I heard another song that weekend that I absolutely fell in love with. But this album brings me back to a summer which was filled with nothing but fun and excitement. Not to mention, I was chasing a girl during the course of this summer. Again, this was before I really discovered instant messaging, so you can imagine how my chase ended that summer. But that didn't mean it wasn't fun.
"Restless Days," by the Clarks  The first band I ever saw live was a band called the Clarks. If you've heard of them, I'd honestly be surprised. They're a regional rock band from my neck of the woods in Pittsburgh. They've appeared on Letterman before, and their music has been featured in a few national TV shows and movies ("Summer Catch" and "The Anna Nicole Show"), but they haven't seen much more than that.
Anyways, I wish I remembered more from that first show. But I remember a few of the songs off of this album were played, and I was hooked. I didn't know what the songs were at that point, but the music just clicked with me. Between then and now, I've probably seen the Clarks live at least 30 times, and I still contest that there's a Clarks song for every situation.
"Futures" by Jimmy Eat World If any of these albums was selected with a strong emphasis on the musical content, it would have to be this one. But every song on "Futures" is relatable to everyday life. While the themes on the album are a little dark (there are a few references to drugs), there's still songs that can bring you up (see the title track) and take you right back down ("23"). It's like a roller coaster of an album, in a good way.  
"American Idiot" by Green Day  This wasn't the first album I listened to in succession (from track one to 13), nor was it the last. But it's probably the only one that can't be listened to any other way. See, I had listened to Green Day long before "American Idiot." "Dookie" was the first album I can ever remember listening to (I was maybe 4 years old at the time). But I fell in love with "American Idiot" because of the storyline — the story of Jesus of Suburbia. I particularly enjoy "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Homecoming" on the album, the "songs within a song" format.
I've always wanted to see the musical too, and when I was in New York in March of 2011, I actually stayed in a hotel a block from a theater which was hosting the play. But being a broke college kid, I didn't have a chance to see it.
"Eponymous" by R.E.M. This one's a vintage piece, and it's a compilation album, to boot. I got to listening to this one after hearing "It's the End of the World as We Know It," and since then, R.E.M. has climbed up to one of my top-five favorite bands. I always wished I could have seen them live, but since they broke up a few months ago, I do believe my chances for that have slipped away.
If you've got a particular favorite, send me a short diddy about it, and it might get featured in a "best of the readers" feature in an upcoming column.

Alix Kunkle is the news editor of the Leesville Daily Leader in Leesville, La. You may contact him at news@leesvilledailyleader.com.