Saturday, March 07, 2009

25 albums that shaped my wood

25 albums that shaped my wood

I got tagged in a Facebook meme that's going around: "25 albums that shaped my wood" (sic). I think my bud changed that from "world" but I'm leaving it. Here's the official rules:

Think of 25 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world. When you finish, tag 25 others, including me. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill. Get the idea now? Good.

Needless to say, in best High Fidelity Guy fashion I went overboard. And like Cusack in High Fidelity, they're filed autobiographically.

These are not necessarily my favorites by these people; just the point where I checked in on that particular artist or music that was significant in my life.

1. Meet the Beatles, the Beatles
2. The Ventures Play Telstar/The Lonely Bull, the Ventures
I'd trade these for Revolver any day, but they were the first two records I ever played as a kid. Meet The Beatles is an American cut and paste version of With The Beatles, improved by adding "I Want To Hold Your Hand," "This Boy," and "I Saw Her Standing There,," but unfortunately they kept "Till There Was You." From the Ventures, I learned surf guitar.

3. Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player, Elton John
"Crocodile Rock" was the first single I ever bought, with "Elderberry Wine" on the flip side. And the "God damn it, you're all gonna die" chorus of the mock-country "Texan Love Song" seemed forbidden when I was nine. (In fact, my and my buddies played with a tape recorder and taped it over and over again, giggling all the way when we played it back) It was my friend's older brother's copy; the first album I bought Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. (And the cocer art to that had some forbidden fruit too).

4. Fool For The City, Foghat
"Slow Ride" was the first time I learned there was such a thing as a long album version of a song.

5. Freedom Rock, various artists

In honor of all the other K-Tel compilations from those late-night TV ads, where we learned the classics and non-classics one hook line at a time. Well, turn it up, man! (Note that the hippie on the right is reading the Wall Street Journal.)

6. Dog and Butterfly, Heart
Not a masterpiece like Dreamboat Annie, but this tour, in November 1978, was my first rock concert. I had a massive crush on Nancy Wilson for about two years afterward. I may go see them at the Riverside casino this summer, just so I can write about seeing the same band 31 years apart. If I can get an interview.

7. Cheap Trick at Budokan, Cheap Trick.
Screaming Japanese salvation in the summer of disco. I wrote about this at much greater length.

8. The B-52's, the B-52's.
When they were on Saturday Night Live it split my high school into two camps: those of use who thought they were cool and those who thought they were, quote, "gay." They were, of course, both. The first album I ever home-taped. HERE COMES A BIKINI WHALE!

9. Tusk, Fleetwood Mac
A ringer, included for merit rather than influence. More here.

10. Sandinista!, The Clash

The Clash on Tom Snyder during the Bond's Residency, New York, 1981

If this assignment were "One album that shaped my world" this would be it, no question. This record, or these three endless records, opened my eyes to the world around me and started me in a life of politics. Much more here.

11. Trust, Elvis Costello
Not as good as the incredible first four albums, but after the Clash and the B-52's he was my next step out of the mainstream.

12. Rocket To Russia, the Ramones


13. 1999, Prince
My dorm neighbors unstrung it down the hall and called me faggot. In response I bought everything he made from there up to about the Batman soundtrack. (I'd trade it for Purple Rain, and of course the first single from Around The World In A Day is part of my persona.)

14. Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume 2, Bob Dylan
This 1971 compilation, picked up at a used book store for a quarter along with the first version of the lyrics book, was where I started to learn Dylan beyond the handful of radio hits.

15. Watercolors, Pat Metheny
Released in 1977, autobiographically organized into the fall of 1984. (My favorites are American Garage and As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls, but I can't listen to Metheny anymore.)

16. The Unforgettable Fire, U2
I prefer War and Joshua Tree, but "Pride (In The Name of Love)" got my through the awful Reagan re-election. The first time the new music was made for me, by my generation.

17. King of Rock, Run-DMC
Where I learned that rap was more than "just talking." Honorable mention to Public Enemy.

18. Songs From The Big Chair, Tears For Fears
These are the things I can do without: Forever linked with the day I quit drinking.

19. Tim, the Replacements and
20. Flip Your Wig, Husker Du
College radio, 1985-86. I still have the gold record they gave me for "Most Radical DJ" (the bar wasn't too high. I got so tired of "Children of the Sun" by Billy Thorpe that I hid the album behind an 8 foot tall stack of classical and jazz.) "Bastards of Young," from Tim, is still the greatest video ever.

21. Guitar Town, Steve Earle and
22. Rhythm and Romance, Rosanne Cash
And my first radio job after college was... country. And these were the first two country artists that I loved. There was a brief moment when country could have gone this way, but after Garth, there came the deluge of clones in big hats (I'll make an exception for Dwight Yoakam) and tight tops. Who cares if Shania can sing, she looks real purty in them videos.

23. Animals, Pink Floyd
Out of sequence again; 1977 in the real world. Summer of `89, Washington DC, in mine. Much more here.

24. Melissa Etheridge, Melissa Etheridge
After hearing the broken heart on sleeve anguish of her debut I thought, "pity on the guy she wrote those songs about." Uh, well, duh. Once the truth went public, it taught me something about the universality of human emotion.

25. Nevermind, Nirvana
The last time in my life I experienced the new song coming out of the car radio, grabbing me by the ears, dragging me in, making my jaw drop. The last time the new music was made for me, by my generation. I lost track of my ability to keep up with what was new right around the time Kurt died. By that point I was too old for any music to truly shape my world, as much as I love Garbage and Oasis.


Honorable Mention. A Hangover You Don't Deserve, Bowling for Soup
The nostalgia curve runs about 20 years behind, so that teens can raid their parent's closets and play ironic retro-cool. When I was in high school, we had 50's dances. In the late 80s, they had Freedom Rock.

When my daughter played "1985" for me, the nostalgia curve caught up to me. Like the top of the page says: Too old to be cool, too young not to care.

No comments: