Songs to Describe 2003


What songs describe the world and its events in 2003? You can suggest songs that describe how life was for you personally as well as the wider political, social and cultural ramifications arising from that year.

If the response is positive, I’ll do this on RR as an occasional theme but without the personal bit. And anyone is welcome to run with the idea if they want to use the idea for RR or SB.

nilpferd mentioned enjoying the reminiscing themes and I enjoy them because discussion opens up. And, to be clear, songs don’t have to be from 2003.

I chose An Anthem from the 80’s because it says something about my approaching middle-age and Western problems as seen from my safe European home in Finland.

Curfew I chose as Fatima Al Qadiri was uprooted by war, her father was a Kuwaiti diplomat, and is concerned with “exploring the experience of war, memory, Western perceptions of other cultures, and sociocultural identity”. There were a lot of political crackdowns in 2003 if I remember correctly.

Wardance is a bit of a gimme for 2003: “The food runs short, And then the money talks. / One way out. Your premonition is correct! / The Wardance. “

22 thoughts on “Songs to Describe 2003

  1. 2003 was the year my 2 yr. old daughter started showing a preference for music… particularly Electronic’s much maligned second album Raise the pressure, which she later described as “the one with the golden angel on the cover”. I think the effort of parenting coupled with a near full-time job tended to blinker me to world events so I have a very home focused recall of that period. It was a gloriously long, hot summer- the next door neighbour- aged 9- used to come across and play with my daughter in the paddling pool, which melted one afternoon. We’d also taken my daughter to NZ for the first time in March so that lengthened the summer feeling when we got back to the northern hemisphere.
    It was a good year for Ninja Tunes- probably my main listening back then, Cinematic Orchestra, Mr. Scruff, 9lazy9. Also bought my first ever ECM album, Anouar Brahem’s le pas du chat noir, because of the cover photo.
    I have very fond memories of 2003, mainly about relaxing at home with my daughter playing in the pool, so I’d pick an upbeat tune I played a lot that year… Mr. Scruff’s Shrimp
    On my daughter’s behalf, Electronic’s For you.

  2. I moved away from NYC to New England in 2003, nearly 2 years after 9/11. The city was very different, and i realized that i couldn’t walk down the street or apply for a job without knowing someone. I realized that even a big huge city could still be a small town and it was time for something different, althought at that point i had no idea what. I watched a lot of MTV, (which had really started to suck by then). I thought this tune was the best thing i ever heard in my life. I still do.

    White Stripes – Seven Nation Army

    • I remember my video editor friend being so impressed by the video for SNA. I helped write him a CV so he could find jobs abroad. He didn’t need any written CV as his visuals were so good. he was instantly offered employment in ht and sunny climes. Spent a few great evenings at his place in the centre of Helsinki before he left Finland.

      The last of my bachelor days now I remember. It was a good summer. It was a good year to be moving on with life.

    • Saw White Stripes play in Shibuya in October 2003. When Meg timidly shuffled centre-stage to shyly sing In the Cold Cold Night the whole audience just melted….shouts of “Kawaiii” echoed around the whole room.

  3. I had moved to Japan halfway through 2002 and by 2003 was just starting to contemplate staying on another year(!). I was living with a big ex-navy academy, gun-owning, Christian, Republican Texan and an extremely camp and most definitely gay future city-planner bloke from Worcestershire.
    I wasn’t quite ready to see myself as settled and buy a record player (that happened late in 2003 with a tentative portable one that I now use in my office), but I did start buying a lot of CDs. I used to go to Shibuya or Shinjuku every week and buy 1 Japanese artist CD and 1 other CD (or more!). I was listening to X-Girl, 5,6,7,8s, Teengenerate, Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her, Number Girl (just before they turned into Zazen Boys) and loving discovering a whole new world of music. Good times, good times!

    • It’s interesting looking back at periods which opened out into new musical worlds… probably for me 2003-4 was the start of a concentrated effort to work through the history of jazz, about which I only really had a fragmentary knowledge. Whereas my first big musical exploratory period as a student in the nineties was led more by record stores and acquaintances, I would certainly have used the internet far more from the mid-naughties onwards, and RR/GU blogs obviously from 2006. Although the biggest resource for me there was the massive 9th. Edition of the Penguin Guide to Jazz, which kept me occupied for about 4 yrs. after it came out in 2008.

      • I’ve been telling myself for decades that my project for my old age is to learn my classical music the way I learned my art history – starting from the beginning with bulls on caves. I’m not young now, and I was also supposed to learn to ski before I turned 40. Didn’t hapoen, and I have grave doubts about the classical music too.

        • I think it would be a very rewarding experience and these days with so much material available online via Spotify et. al. all you really need is a good guide. Think you’re right to forget about the skiing though.

          • Never say. never. My friend’s mom learned at 60 and competed in senior races. But I’m too sick of winters these days to bother.

      • I don’t think I’m systematic enough to do it that way, I usually pick up something that looks interesting on impulse (not on Impulse!) or has some connection with something else I know. My favourite jazz record buying experience was when I was listening to a podcast about music of the civil rights movement. They started talking about and playing excerpts from “We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite” just as I was walking past a jazz/soul record shop in Shibuya, before the 5-minute segment had finished I had gone into the shop, found a copy for a few hundred yen, bought it, and walked out the shop again. It’s now one of my favourite records!

        • That was basically my approach for 20 yrs, but on the other hand it was good to discover things I’d otherwise never had known existed. But certainly there’s more of a sense of it being your own journey if you just let yourself be led by instinct, and you may end up liking the music more for it.

          • When it came to discovering jazz I had a workmate who was a jazzaholic and he steered me in the right direction (away from jazz funk and into the harder stuff) plus I used the book “The Making of Jazz” by James Lincoln Collier which has a brilliant discography at the back. I also benefited from belonging to the local record library where, among many jazz albums, I first heard (and taped) the Miles Davis 12 album collection “Chronicles” FOR 50p ! It contained all of his recordings from 1951-56 ie some of the greatest jazz ever recorded, and probably more than any other record changed my life ! How’s that for a reason not to get rid of public libraries !

          • For sure, I got my early Miles education via public libraries, both through cds and jazz magazines (that’s not what some of you think).

  4. I can only vaguely remember what i did last week let alone 15-years ago!

    With amylee and Seven Nation Army, Elephant was on continuous play along with Evanescence’s Fallen and Snow Patrol’s Final Straw.


    • Ha! I remember Evanescence being so popular that year. Them and Nightwish were always on the radio.

      I remember years by the music listened to and the gigs I attended. That’s probably just me…

  5. Yes, Evanescence here, too. And Daniel Bedingfield in the charts a lot. My son was one in 2003 and I was working full time, so I can’t honestly remember much except sleep deprivation. I know I loaned his childminders a pile of Bob Marley CDs, which got lost, somehow, so they went out and bought me a whole new collection (there was no need, I wasn’t upset about it). Anyway, I probably listened to a lot of Bob Marley! Here’s the obvious choice for singing to a baby: Three Little Birds –

  6. Well on Feb 15th 2003 I was asked to meet my friend of friends at an anti-war demo in London.
    She kissed me at the end of the day – 15 years later and two children gives us:

    Yeah yeah yeahs ‘fever to tell’ had maps on it
    Jens Lekman – I Saw Her In The Anti-war Demonstration

    Yo La Tengo – Moonrock Mambo meant a lot to me.

    A mix of !K7 had TERRANOVA [feat Ari Up] – NO PEACE which summed up the politics of the year.

    I spent my 33rd birthday in Ireland – I’d like to blame it on the artist in me why there was ‘a million reasons’ (stellastar*) why I could easily have given up… but ‘the freckles in our eyes were perfectly aligned’ (The Postal Service – Such Great Heights)

    Good year for music in my collection.

    2003 mix

    Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps

    Jens Lekman – I Saw Her In The Anti-war Demonstration

    Yo La Tengo – Moonrock Mambo

    Stellastarr* – A Million Reasons

    The Postal Service – Such Great Heights [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

    The Nu Forest – I Picked A Flower

    Metric – Dead Disco

    Buck 65 – 463

    Baba Zula – We Fell In Love With You [Biz Size Aşık Olduk] (dub mix)

    I Am Kloot – Not a Reasonable Man

    Desert Sessions – I Wanna Make It Wit Chu

    Martina Topley-Bird – RAGGA

    RJD2 – Bus Stop Bitties

  7. I began 2003 living in Nuremberg and ended it in Preveza on the Ionian coast of Greece. My girlfriend (now wife) was teaching English while I was trying to be A Writer (although without the getting paid part).

    It’s probably the most out-of-touch I’ve been with music in my life – I just had one of those travel wallets of CDs, and wasn’t discovering much in the way of new stuff.

    But I remember buying the new Go-Betweens album in Germany, and since our closest friend there was called Caroline, this track is a reminder:

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