February 23rd, 2009
: Think of 10 albums, CDs, LPs (if you're over 40) that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life. Dug into your soul. Music that brought you to life when you heard it. Royally affected you, kicked you in the wazoo, literally socked you in the gut, is what I mean. Then when you finish, tag 10 others, including me. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill. Get the idea now? Good. Tag, you're it!
- Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor "Choral" (1977)
This is one of the few classical albums that still remains part of me, despite my not owning it. My uncle had this on CD, and I listened to it repeatedly one summer when I was in Taiwan, eventually learning the intro, first verse and bridge of the final movement, the "Ode to Joy." To this day, I can sing those parts phonetically, although I only have a faint idea of what I'm actually singing in German.
- a-ha Hunting High and Low (1985)
"I fear the crazed and lonely looks the mirror's sending me these days" - "The Sun Always Shines on T.V."
Far from just the pop punchline "Take On Me" (which still has a great video replete with influences from comic books and Altered States), a-ha's debut album has a wide variety of different styles and moods. This was one of my favorite albums when I was in junior high, and I've been an a-ha fan since. I drove my brother crazy listening to the extended version of "The Sun Always Shines on T.V." on repeat.
- Quit Earlier Thoughts (1990)
"I'm waiting for you to come into my life." - "Waiting"
I picked up this album by a local Miami band when I purchased my comics for the week at Coral Comics next to the University of Miami back when I was in high school. Just a simple curiousity turned into a lifelong passion for punk rock with melodic pop overtones and/or point/counterpoint vocals. These guys wrote punk songs about relationships people might have called 'emo' before 1) everyone else started overusing the term as derogatory catchall for whiny, self-obsessed bitchsmithing and 2) bands started writing whiny, self-obsessed bitchsmith songs (I'm looking at you, Fall Out Boy) in a crappy vicious cycle. I've been searching for about 20 years for their second album, which apparently was never pressed, but samples of which are here.
- Descendents Somery (1991)
"They made me go away, sometimes life isn't fair, but I'll be back someday; I hope you'll still be there" - "Silly Girl"
The Descendents' "Greatest Hits" of sorts, Somery will always have a place in my life--from the humorous short tracks ("I Like Food" and "Weinerschnitzel") to the more heartfelt songs ("Get the Time" and "Cheer"). Following Quit's Earlier Thoughts, this was the next lesson in my pop-punk education.
- Cranberries No Need To Argue (1994)
"And the thing that makes me mad is the one thing that I had. I knew, I'd lose you. " - "No Need to Argue"
Both this album and the following listing are two that particularly affected me, because they both came out and spoke directly to me during a time which up until recently saw the worst thing to happen to me--the dissolution of my five-year relationship with my longtime, high-school sweetheart girlfriend. At times, I often find myself going back to "No Need to Argue," with that resigned, "you're leaving, and there's nothing I can really say about it" feeling.
- Jawbreaker 24 Hour Revenge Therapy (1994)
"Drank and just about smiled, then I remembered us in that bed." - "Condition Oakland"
As mentioned, this album is also full of post-breakup anthems that carried me through that rough patch. There's a quiet poetry in all of these songs (sometimes literally, in the case of "Condition Oakland"), and songs like "Do You Still Hate Me?" and "In Sadding Around" (which starts with the line "Sleeping of the last five years takes another five"), gave me the wiggins in how prophetic/clairvoyant they were with my life.
- Hot Water Music Finding the Rhythms (1996)
"Got thinking I'm not happy not thinking right. I can't wash this away but gotta get it out of my mind" - "Counting Numbers"
Sometime in 1996, I went to a concert at the Covered Dish in Gainesville, FL. I watched Hot Water Music open up for Jawbreaker, and was mesmerized by the heavy, distorted sound combined with the point/counterpoint vocals. I had a hard time pinpointing an individual HWM album for this list, as all of them have been deep parts of my musical upbringing, so I just chose the first one I picked up at that concert some 13 years ago.
- Less than Jake Hello Rockview (1998)
"A boring life in a boring town in the same old crowd; and I used to say that I'd never stay, but I'm rotting here today." - "History of a Boring Town"
I listened to this album for months in Miami, having it seep into my bones, noting all the similarities between me and the characters described in each of the songs--the general malaise at being back home, the unshakable feeling that I was meant to be somewhere else, doing something else. This is the album that got me to move out of my parents' house and to Atlanta.
- Rumbleseat Is Dead (2005)
"Someone once told me, if there's a road to happiness, I must have passed it long ago." - "Restless"
Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard of Hot Water Music put together this alt-folk/country side project who's album didn't get pressed until 2005 following various delays, including a hurricane ruining some initial recordings. I know how to play a number of these acoustic tracks on the guitar (for some very loose sense of the word "play"), which despite a marked difference from my generally-preferred genres, have always talked to me. And it introduced Don Gibson's "Sea of Heartbreak" to me, which is a heavily-played favorite for me.
From the days when I would hold a small portable radio up to another radio to my most recent additions to favtape.com (which as I've mentioned on twitter, is sorely lacking in their Screeching Weasel and other indie band collection), I've made mixtapes all my life, taking the best tracks from all the various albums of my life, and rearranging them in theme, genre, humor, or at random. I can remember where I was in my life based on what mixtape I was listening to at the time, and my brain is hard-wired to always expect Antonio Banderas and Los Lobos singing "Cancion del Mariachi" to follow the Mighty Mighty Bosstones' "Hope I Never Lose My Wallet."