Friday, April 8, 2011

10 Records That Shaped My Youth: Ages 17-20

If I began listening to grunge because my voice broke and I could no longer belt out those wondrously high-pitched melodies hair metal singers seem to love, favoring instead the scratchier, lower-register melodies of Nirvana and Pearl Jam, then I chucked off my green cardigan and flannel shirts for ties and suit coats and, yep, Beatle boots. That's right: I was heading straight into candyland: pop music. Specifically, pop music from the 50s and 60s. The stuff my, gulp, mom and dad listened to!

This list could easily have been 10 Beatles records; however, I've tried to broaden it a little.

1 - 4. The Beatles - Rubber Soul/Revolver/Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/Abbey Road
Honestly, I feel like I'm cheating you a little here with The Beatles taking up four slots, but this is simply the truth. In fact, I really had to think about which Beatles records I listened to the most and which ones I liked the most. Do I go with the first CD I ever purchased - The White Album, the record that got me into the Beatles in the first place - or do I go with what the records I still find fresh and absorbing today? I went with the latter. When the remastered versions came out a couple years ago I was thrown for a loop. The songs actually sounded different: cleaner, crisper, wider. It took me a little while to get used to everything in stereo, especially the early records, but now I'm glad George Martin and his son took the time to remaster The Beatles. The four lads from Liverpool really are the greatest band in rock history. I dare you to disagree.

5. Bob Dylan - Freewheelin'
This was the first record I heard from the nasally troubadour and, though I like his mid-60s (the era, not the age) stuff more, this record has stuck it out. Songs like "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," and "Girl from the North Country," and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," still get me through the night.

6. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica
I will admit that the first time (or hundred times) I heard Captain Beefheart I couldn't stop laughing. My friend Kevin (who is making quite a few appearances in these posts of late) showed me a clip of Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) performing on Saturday Night Live and it was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever seen. Of course we bought his records. Of course we imitated him. Of course we created a boardgame called "Sue Egypt" after a song on Doc at the Radar Station for our high school English class. Point is, while the Beef and I got off on the wrong foot, the affair lasted and grew and became something akin to respect and love.

7 & 8. Igor Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring/Firebird Suite
I attended community college studying music. My instructors there, in particular, Larry Harms and Prince Dorough, greatly influenced what I was listening to. I opened up to classical and jazz. The first composer to really strike me was Stravinsky and The Rite of Spring is a piece I never tire of. Firebird Suite is just as haunting and amazing.

9. Weezer - Pinkerton
Rivers Cuomo's finest moment. The pinnacle of Weezer. On Tin Tin Can's way to Arkansas last year we listened to this record and every one of us commented that this may be one of the few perfect records ever made. There is not one note out of place. It's magical.

10. Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends
My friend John (who occasionally posts here with basketball news) lived in China for four years. One summer he returned to the states singing "The Sound of Silence" and "Kathy's Song." I was already mining folk music, listening to Dylan and Cohen and others, so Simon & Garfunkel was no stretch. Yet, my favorite record from the duo is the hardest, rockingest - and possibly weirdest - record. "Save the Life of My Child" still makes me uncomfortable; and "Overs" is one of the best breakup songs ever written.

There you have it. I'm not old enough to drink legally yet, but just you wait. It's coming and when it does, oh dear, the floodgates are opened because, for whatever reason (and lots of others), beer and music make good company.


  1. Awesome list. All of these, with the notable exception of the Beefheart, are all formative albums for me as well, as I guess you probably know. I should probably check that Beefheart fella out.

  2. I recommend Beefheart, though he definitely isn't for everyone.

  3. Bookends. Yes.

    One of my very, very, never gets old, favourites.