Tuesday, February 24, 2009

25 records that changed my life

I've gotten into Facebook recently - mostly to keep in touch with all of the dear friends I made during my sojourn at Macy's Midwest. When the ship went down we found that it was a handy way to to keep tabs on each other. 
Lately, Facebook seems to be all about lists - "Unknown facts about me", "Random songs on my iPod" - I'm gonna make a list of all of the lists, I swear. The one that really intrigued me was one that David just finished - "25 Records that Changed My Life". My first thought was "Jeez! 25? I'll never be able to come up with that many." After I got into it, I realized that 25 wasn't really enough. I love music that much.
So here it goes. In chronological order, I might add.
1. The Beatles, "Revolver", 1966
I loved the Beatles from the moment I heard them on KXOK. After the first rush they seemed to get into a pop groove - a truly spectacular groove - but I wanted them to grow. Then came "Revolver". Not only is every song a gem, the cover is spectacular. As a kid who spent all of her free time drawing and painting, I could stare at that cover for hours.
2. The Monkees, "Headquarters", 1967
The Monkees were never supposed to be a real band, just actors playing a pseudo-Beatles band in a beach house. After their second album was manufactured for them, they rebelled, fired Don Kirshner and made "Headquarters" all on their own. I listened to it over and over. Plus, Mike Nesmith is a hell of a song writer.
3. Jimi Hendrix, "Are You Experienced?", 1967
I had never heard anything like Jimi and probably never will again. 
4. Johnny Cash, "At Folsom Prison", 1968
I was weaned on old school country. This was my dad's favorite, and we listened to it over and over in the summer of '68. Cash was the coolest guy ever and I knew all of the words to "A Boy Named Sue", even the part they bleeped out on the radio.
5. Neil Young, "After the Gold Rush", 1970
I have a fondness for nontraditional voices. Neil's lyrics shed some light into my small town existence as to what the aftermath of the Summer of Love was all about.
6. David Bowie, "Hunky Dory", 1971
I loved David Bowie and thought he was the best-looking man I'd ever seen. "Oh, You Pretty Things" still pops into my head at odd times.
7. Big Star, "Big Star", 1972
They seemed to have influenced a lot of bands in their short career. All I know is that they went into a small studio in Memphis on a shoestring budget and made a great album. I recently got a copy after not hearing it for close to 25 years and I could listen to it every day.
8. The Who, "Quadrophenia", 1973
The greatest Who album ever. The. Greatest. Who. Album. Ever. Once you put it on, you can't take it off - the songs flow into each other and tell such a vivid story. 
9. The Pointer Sisters, "The Pointer Sisters", 1973
Now, don't laugh. This is not the "I'm So Excited", big-haired, spandex-wearin' Pointer Sisters. They had been singing in their daddy's church when they decided to rebel. Fueled my already growing love of jazz and vintage clothing. Their backup band is so good, I can almost forgive "Yes We Can, Can".
10. Cheap Trick, "In Color", 1977
Cheap Trick helped me fall in love with power pop and I never fell out. When I went to college in Central Illinois in the late 70's, they were not yet famous and still touring small college towns. I remember seeing them many times fueled by amyl nitrate, and dancing until I just fell down. 
11. Elvis Costello, "This Year's Model", 1978
I think this cassette stayed in my Datsun B210 deck for an entire year. 
12. Squeeze, "Argybargy", 1980
Such clever songwriters, and Glenn Tilbrook has one of the sweetest voices in pop.
13. Marshall Crenshaw, "Field Day", 1983
So many reviewers lauded his debut album, it was almost embarrassing. This second album is a little darker, a little harder, and it sparkles. 
14. The Feelies, "The Good Earth", 1985
Jangly, moody pop at it's best. 
15. U2, "The Joshua Tree", 1987
An album I would never want to be without, it makes me feel more peaceful just listening to it. 
16. R.E.M., "Green", 1988
After they left I.R.S. for Warner and big money, I was determined to boycott their capitalistic asses. Sure, it's bombastic, the production is slicker, but their souls still shine through.
17.  Uncle Tupelo, "Anodyne", 1993
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for these Metro East boys. Jay Farrar has the voice of an old soul, and Jeff Tweedy became - or maybe was allowed to - a major songwriter. 
18. Radiohead, "The Bends", 1995
I know, I know - "OK Computer" is considered one of the classic albums of all time, but this one is still my favorite. Call me a rebel.
19. Pavement, "Brighten the Corners", 1997
Witty and more solid than the band had ever sounded before, a step up made just as they were on their way down. (sigh)
20. Neutral Milk Hotel, "In An Aeroplane Over the Sea", 1998
Jeff Magnum's obsession with Anne Frank was the basis for this album, full of weird imagery and some of the most beautiful lyrics around.
21. The Flaming Lips, "The Soft Bulletin", 1999
My love of this band is legendary. When their innovative guitarist Ronald Jones succumbed to touring pressure and quit, they replaced him with drummer Steven Drozd and replaced Steven with an orchestra. Both groundbreaking and rule breaking for them, they re-invented themselves and moved on. 
22. The White Stripes, "Elephant", 2001
Meg plays a little drums, and Jack plays everything else. 
23. Wilco, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", 2002
The story is legendary. When Wilco presented their 4th album to Reprise Records, they rejected it and fired the band. Wilco streamed the album on their personal website until it was finally released to critical acclaim by Nonesuch Records. Complex and personal, it grabs on to you and won't let go. Ever. 
24. Son Volt, "Okemah and the Melody of Riot", 2005
David and I listened to this constantly when it first came out, and never got tired of it. Great songs, great band, great subject matter, with a lot of Midwest shout-outs.
25. Sufjan Stevens, "Come on Feel the Illinose", 2005
My latest obsession. I would love it even if it wasn't about my home state. The boy plays everything (and quite well, too) and is a great songwriter to boot. 
I know I'll probably wake up tomorrow and think, "Damn! I forgot that one!" 
Maybe 25 isn't enough after all. 



Jerry said...

Great list. We have several overlapping musical interests, esp. those White Stripes and Wilco albums which I also played over and over again.

Valerie Pennington said...

Thank you, Mr. C.