Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ten Albums That Have Stayed With Me

A friend of mine sent me a message on Facebook with a list of ten albums that, as he put it, had stayed with him "in some fundamental way." He asked me to write my own list. As you know, I love making lists. I just can't help myself. So here is my list. These are not my ten favorite albums (though at least two of them would be on that list as well). These are ten albums that have meant a lot to me over the years for various reasons. And I've included a short explanation of each album's personal significance. Music has always played an important part in my life, so this list isn't complete or anything. There are so many other albums that have been important. Also, the order in which they're presented is basically how they occurred to me, not the order of importance or anything. Okay, enough rambling. Here is the list.

1. The Monkees: More Of The Monkees
My mom surprised me when she bought a used copy of this record for me one day when I was really young. I was already a big fan of the television show, but hadn't realized that there were actually records available. This is not my favorite Monkees album, but it was my first, and so holds a special place in my collection. Also, it has the song "Laugh," one that most people don't seem to care for, but which I have always loved.

2. Star Wars Soundtrack 
I sat in my dad’s den, listening to this record over and over, with the liner notes opened on my lap in front of me. The movie is what got me interested in film, and the music is just fucking great. In fact, I have no clear memories before Star Wars. My earliest memory is seeing an ad for Star Wars on television, and telling my parents that I wanted to go see it.

3. Grateful Dead: American Beauty
This was not the first Grateful Dead record I ever bought – that was Workingman’s Dead – but it is my favorite. It includes my favorite song of all time, “Ripple.” In fact, this entire album is just perfect. I love every song, and I could listen to this record all day long.

4. Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man
This was the first Leonard Cohen album I ever bought. It’s not my favorite, and in fact features the only Leonard Cohen song that I actually dislike (“Jazz Police”), but it’s what really started my total love for this songwriter. It features "Everybody Knows" and "Tower Of Song."

5. Ellis Paul: Say Something
When I was seventeen, I saw Roger McGuinn in concert. The opener was Ellis Paul. It was his first show. After the concert, I went to talk with Ellis rather than Roger, and that was the beginning of my passion for his music. Say Something was his third album, but his first CD, and it has some wonderful songs. I think this was the album that really helped to expand his audience. I always loved "Washington D.C. 5/91."

6. Cream: Disraeli Gears
When my seventh grade teacher realized I was a Cream fan, I realized I could get away with a lot of shit in class because now we had a special bond. I’ve always loved Ginger Baker’s drumming, and this album is still fantastic. In high school, I was lucky enough to see Jack Bruce perform in concert, and he did some Cream songs.

7. John Cougar: American Fool
My first concert was Heart, and John Cougar was the opener. American Fool had just been released, and I loved the record. John Cougar opened the show with “Thundering Hearts,” one of my favorites. That was in 1982. I was ten years old. This also marked my first concert T-shirt, though I remember some of the kids teasing me the next day because I was wearing a shirt that said "American Fool." They hadn't quite yet discovered music or understood the concept of a concert shirt.

8. Culture Club: Colour By Numbers
Colour By Numbers was the first record a girl ever bought for me, when I was eleven years old. That alone makes it important in my life. But also, these songs are really good. I remember the “Karma Chameleon” video played all the time, and I never tired of it. I still love this album.

9. Josh Lederman Y Los Diablos: It’s A Long And Lonely Time Until The Train Will Bring You Home
My brother bought this CD for me. I had never heard of the band, and I put it in my CD player, and within approximately fifteen seconds I was completely in love with these guys. Later they played at my brother’s bachelor party. And I saw them as often as I could (which was difficult, as they never toured). This was one of my three favorite bands to see in concert (the other two being Grateful Dead and The Peak Show). This CD's opening track, "Four In The Morning," is one of my favorite songs of all time.

10. The Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time Out
My uncle bought this album for me, and it was a complete surprise. We hadn’t talked about jazz or anything. I was still a kid, and my uncle was still relatively new to the family at that point. I felt that this gift showed that he respected me in some way, maybe even understood me, which is important (even shocking) when you're a kid. Of course, the album features the fantastic “Take Five.” I always love listening to it. 

Okay, that's my list. Please feel free to leave a comment with your own list if you'd like.

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