First tracks are essential. They’re your gateway to the album, they are mission statement and opening salvo. But sometimes you come to an album in a roundabout way, through a track 6 or 10, and your experiences with that album come mostly by skipping to the magic moment that got you there.
There’s something about a skipped song. You hear it long enough, a bar or three, to know it’s not what you came here for, and you move along like Goldilocks. It gets so those first few notes become pavlovian. Hear it, skip. Hear it, skip. Until one day that choice track loses its charm, becomes old hat, and you actually listen to it for real and realize you’ve just been saving it for this moment.
Some albums are just wrecked for all time through overuse. You get so you know every little trick, every improvised yelp, every drum fill and you have to put it away. Everything new gets dulled through use, everything awesome gets commonplace through repeated application.
Some albums unfold over time, through the magic of the skip, making your map incomplete, keeping an album from crawling into your head and never leaving. Is this a conscious choice? Is this just a roll of the dice? These albums you take on a track at a time, inoculating yourself bit by bit until you’ve conquered it all and wind up realizing you should have just pressed play, sat back and had a little faith from the beginning.