After spending the 1998-99 school year teaching middle school science at my hometown Pendleton Heights Middle School, I quickly began a search for a high school teaching position. Unfortunately, the writing was on the wall that I would never get a high school teaching or coaching position in my hometown, so I started my search in school systems near me. The nice thing was that I received two interviews AND job offers at the small school where I student taught, Eastern Hancock Jr. and Sr. High School, and the one of the fastest growing school districts in the state, Hamilton Southeastern High School. Both schools wanted me to teach chemistry and coach basketball as an assistant. So, I went with the larger school, Hamilton Southeastern. Plus, I knew their newly hired head basketball coach through my dad. You see, Coach’s dad and my dad had coached against each other when Coach was in high school. That’s what got me hired, but it was my ability that kept me around.
That one year being a boys varsity assistant coach was an awesome experience. The four coaches on the staff were exceptional people, and we had great chemistry. The assistants were encouraged to use our ideas to improve the offense or defense as needed. Coach Bullington (or Coach Bull as we all called him) had a basic outline to his offense and defense, and he left the details for tightening up things to his assistants, which was a cool way to coach. Now, all of us have a vested interest in how the team performs. Personally, I loved to quietly analyze a team’s performance until I have diagnosed their problems. Once I had a grasp as to the deficiency (or deficiencies), I would talk to Bull, make my suggestions as how to improve the problems and show him how I would improve them through drills. If he agreed, then he turned you loose. That’s the reason all three of his assistant coaches became head coaches, though I was the only one who did not stick with basketball, not that Bull really wanted me to leave the program for track. However, he was one of my biggest supporters. Likewise, when Coach Satt took over for Bull to become the head coach of HSE, which he still is in that position nearly 20 years later. And, Coach Grace went on to coach at a couple of noteworthy high schools before hanging up his whistle.
I have often described that coaching staff as if we were The Beatles. We were great together, while all of us eventually went on to become pretty successful on our own. First, Bull left HSE after three years for Pike High School, where he won a State Championship, then retired. Satt, as I said earlier, continues to coach at HSE, where he has coached two Mr. Basketballs, a handful of Indiana All-Stars and won a couple of Sectional championships. Grace was the head coach at a couple of prominent high school programs in Indiana, but left the profession so he could watch his children in their sports. And, me? Well, I will continue to cover that. Though I led some pretty remarkable coaching staffs as the head boys varsity track coach, none of them compared to the chemistry this basketball staff had.
The cool part is how much laughter we shared that year. That’s what I remember the most, followed by the first win of the season (the game plan was totally mine too!), Bull’s 300th career win, the night we beat a school that had fired Bull about a decade earlier (never had I heard a coach so fired up to beat a crappy team), the game when the fire alarm went off at an opposing school in the middle of the second quarter and we had to evacuate the court (and one of the referees got arrested at halftime too!) and the night when the whole staff nearly got ejected from the last game of the season over the worst officiating crew ever. Greatest. Season. Ever. And we were only a couple of games over .500 for the season.
Still, once again, Y2K had some great music, and the world did not end. So, let’s see what’s on my list from the year 2000.
D’Angelo – Voodoo (2000). D’Angelo returned in 2000 with his sophomore album that continued his neo-soul explorations that he innovated on his debut release Brown Sugar. On this LP, the man must have asked himself what would soul sound like if Prince had started the genre. From there, he worked both forward by incorporating hip hop sensibilities and backward as he soul vision bought in not only Seventies soul but jazz and light funk as well. This sound made him more than a retro artist, as Lenny Kravitz or Boyz II Men could at times sound like. No, D’Angelo has his own thing going on as he mixed and matched the talents of The Roots, Lauryn Hill, Raphael Saadiq, among others, in creating the sound on Voodoo.
Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP (2000). Many people, my sons included, have stated at one time or another that this album may be the greatest hip hop joint of all-time. Now, I don’t feel all that qualified to designate any album as the greatest in the genre. But, I will say that this is one helluva album and should have won the Grammy for Best Album that year. And, remember, I love Steely Dan, but they did not deserve what amounted to be a lifetime achievement award for their comeback album. Their album was nowhere near the cultural phenomenon this album was. It was ubiquitous and remains a landmark release in all of music.
Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes – Live at the Greek (2000). To be perfectly honest, when I first read about this pairing, I was very skeptical. How would a roots rocking band ever mix well with one of the greatest hard rock guitarists of all-time? Well, I was totally wrong! This was a pairing made in heaven. Seriously, the Crowes are well-versed in the musical language of Zeppelin, giving the music enough musical diversity that kept it fresh. Plus, lead singer Chris Robinson’s vocals can nearly match the soaring timbre of Robert Plant on the Zeppelin songs. This album was a revelation.
Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory (2000). Rarely does the best band of a genre show up at the end of that genre’s run, but that’s exactly what happened when Linkin Park broke through in 2000. This rap/metal ensemble turned up the angst to 11, while smoothing out the rough edges from the Slipknot/Limp Bizkit sound so their tunes would be more commercial. Plus, their secret weapon was lead vocalist Chester Bennington, who had the ability to scream like a Death Metal banshee, rap like a minor league white rapper (but in a good way) and croon like a teen idol. Couple Bennington with the angst-ridden aggressive pop sound and you have a guaranteed hit.
Madonna – Music (2000). So, what’s a diva to do when she seems to be on a never-ending music innovation roll as Madonna was for nearly the past two decades. Well, after the success of her amalgamation of dance, techno and pop on Ray of Light, Madonna looks back at her roots in the disco floors of the late-Seventies. Then, she adds some new millennium sounds to create some of the most exciting club music of the year. This is the sound of a master looking back in order to move forward.
Marilyn Manson – Holy Wood (In the Valley of the Shadow of Death) (2000). As the Nineties were ending, Manson was reeling from the sting of the blame laid at his feet for the Columbine massacre and the commercial dud of his Glam Mechanical Animals. So, he regrouped, refocused and re-emerged as his old nasty heavy metal/industrial rock perverted self. This was the sound of a wounded man reclaiming everything that made him great in the first place.
*NSYNC – No Strings Attached (2000). In the boy band sweepstakes around the turn of the century, there were truly only two groups who could stake claim the throne: Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. Both bands had their backers, and rarely did a fan love both bands. But, this album sold a ton during the first week of its released. So many copies that this album has the record for most units moved during the first week of its release. And, *NSYNC had a secret weapon in their lineup, a lad named Justin Timberlake, who will go onto getter heights as a solo artist, actor and Jimmy Fallon pal. Give the Y2K Boy Band award to *NSYNC.
Outkast – Stankonia(2000). Once again, the most innovative hip hop sounds were being created by Outkast, this time on their brilliant Stankonia. Sure, they built there sound on a P-Funk foundation, but they found ways to warp those sounds while never ignoring the pop hooks in each song. The emotional centerpiece of this album is the apologetic “Ms. Jackson,” which is an apology to Erykah Badu’s mother for Andre 3K getting Ms. Badu pregnant. It remains a very poignant moment in hip hop history. This album changed everything in the rap world.
PJ Harvey – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000). Maturation is a natural progression in people across the spectrum but is rarely seen in the rock world, especially when an artist is known for her angst-riddled anguish in her original run of albums. Yet, all of a sudden, Harvey looks back on her life only to discover a more mature manner in which to express her anger. As opposed to blowing her audience away with her bluster, now Harvey takes the listener by the hand and shows the aftermath of an emotional bomb being dropped on a maturing adult. This is the sign of maturity within the comfy confines of rock music.
Radiohead – Kid A (2000). After Radiohead released their previous album O.K. Computer, the world was ready for how the band was going to continue to save rock music from itself. Once again, the band answers the bell and comes out swinging. Not only is Radiohead wailing away at the technology of the day, but also the current music from a machine, EDM. Radiohead completely blows up everything in its sights. This is one of the first albums that bypassed the rock conceptions of the Boomers and Gen X and completely geared its sounds for the Millennials. This album is a seismic shift indeed.
Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker (2000). Before his whole misogynous allegations surfaced, Adams was considered to be something of a modern day Gram Parsons, a cat who was bringing the country rock sound into the 21st century. Originally, Adams was a member of one of the original Nineties Americana bands Whiskeytown. Unfortunately, that band broke up before they could experience much success. But, when Adams began to do his own thing, the expectations were placed squarely on his shoulders. Heartbreaker is just the kind of album that gets those with their fingers on the pulse of genre all sweaty with excitement. This is a modern mix of Parsons and Neil Young.
The Hives – Veni Vidi Vicious (2000). As the new millennium rolled around, young people were yearning for the raw sound of the original punk movement of 1977. First came Green Day, The Offspring, and others in their wake. Initially, this all started as a trickle but was beginning to catch a little stream. Into the void steps The Hives, ripping through their songs like amphetamine-driven version of The Cars, sans the synth. This is more pop punk (nothing more than harder, faster power pop) than most of the old CBGB sound. It may not have been art, but I like it!
U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000). When we last heard U2, they were doing some crazy sonic experimentations with the attempted marriage of their Dadaist rock sound of Achtung Baby/Zooropa with the EDM-based rock sound of Pop. After getting all of that out of their collective system, the band then began to look back in order to move forward. So, now, after a decade of experimentation with their basic sound, it was time to reach back to their mid-Eighties days of soaring anthems loaded with sincerity for inspiration. The result was this album being a definite embrace of all stages of their development in order to create this album. And, this was definitely their finest LP in a decade, proving that U2 still had creative life flowing through their veins.
Now that we are finally taking about music from the 21st century, let’s take a look where we stand in this list. Currently, we have 19 more years to cover (2001-2019) with 159 albums. I cannot believe how close we are to finishing this thing off. Until next time, peace.