I was a DJ for several years in college at a bar where there wasn’t dancing. Music simply provided a lively, entertaining environment. That was tremendously freeing because I didn’t have to play familiar music intended to get people dancing. The music choices could be lively, even if they were unusual; they just had to fit that night’s crowd. This became an early impetus for me seeking out great music far off the beaten path of popularity.

In recent years, I haven’t kept up on current music nearly as much. I tend to mine online sources for older, eclectic music that I may have missed With the internet and online music stores (particularly iTunes) this is much faster and cost-efficient than scouring cut-out bins used to be. In fact, I’ve characterized iTunes as bringing together two of my strongest passions – music and research – in a very seductive way.

Between iTunes, eMusic, Pandora, and Google (for searching lyrics snippets to find song titles), my iPod is filled with a wide variety of songs, many of them little-followed. I usually play these songs over and over for weeks listening for interesting lyrics, melodies, and chord progressions with a tolerance for repetition that drives my wife crazy.

Liz Phair certainly fits this category for me. When “Exile in Guyville” came out, I was already well into a career focus and didn’t get into her music much although I was aware of her. Rediscovering her now has put her early work into my heavy rotation.

In wrapping up Phair Weather Week, here’s a top 25 of these heavy rotation songs from the past year. Some artists and songs will be more familiar than others, but for me, they all have the musical elements I would have included in the mix back at the Brass Rail. Enjoy the discovery process!