As we drove to North Georgia today to visit a zedonk (half zebra, half donkey - pictures and story to come soon!), my sister and I were talking about music and the most important albums in our lives. I'd done a note on this awhile ago on facebook, narrowing it down to 30 albums that were influential or important to me over the course of my life, but it was really fun to bring it up again, discuss together and compare notes. So, here's my list! I highly encourage you to make your own list, if only for my satisfaction and curiosity as I like you all and find you very interesting. For real, let me see your list. Leave it in the comments or write it somewhere else and link in the comments. I like you. I want to know about you and your music. Plus, music is awesome. Come on now.
Peter, Paul and Mary - The Best of Peter, Paul, and Mary - Ten Years Together
This is the first album I remember listening to as a kid. We had the record, and we would go see them at Ravinia (big outdoor music venue near where I grew up) most summers. Definitely instilled a love for vocal harmonies in my kid brain.
The Pointer Sisters - Breakout
The first tape I ever bought. I think I was 6 or 7. I remember listening to "I'm So Excited," "Neutron Dance," and "Jump (For My Love)," then rewinding it and listening all over again. Sometimes I would try and listen to "Automatic," but I thought it was boring and never got very far with it.
Michael Jackson - Thriller
We also had this one on vinyl. My favorite song was "Human Nature," and I saw the video for "Thriller" at way too young an age. I still get creeped out by Vincent Price's voice.
Jesus Christ, Superstar - Soundtrack
I have every word memorized, and I've seen the play 6 or 7 times, and I used to perform the entire thing in my room when nobody else was home, and my secret dream is to play Judas in a production of this musical. Don't tell anybody.
Led Zeppelin - Disc 2 of the Box Set
My sister owned the box set, and we'd set our cd player to play "Black Dog," "Over The Hills and Far Away," "Immigrant Song," "D'yer Mak'er," and "Stairway to Heaven." Once I finally listened to the rest of the disc, and the rest of the set, they became one of my all-time favorite bands.
Mötley Crüe - Dr. Feelgood
This was the first cd I ever owned! Sara gave it to me for Christmas in...7th grade? It came in the long box, and I loved it. I still have the same copy of this cd, and I still love it.
Guns n Roses - Appetite for Destruction
What do I even say about this? I think it is the most rocking album ever made. WAY ahead of its time. I mean, jesus christ, it was released in 1987! Crazy. I have two copies: one for the apartment and one for the car. It is my all time favorite album.
Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville
Oh Liz! You did so much for me. This was one of the first albums that introduced me to any kind of feminist ideals, and one of the first solo female artists I ever loved. Hearing her sing about sex and love was eye-opening for me.
Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes
When I was 15 or so, I needed Tori music more than I realized. Although I totally make fun of her now, I still listen to this album during my more angsty nights. Her lyrics were something I absolutely needed to hear at that time. And also, duh, piano rules.
Hole - Live Through This
Oh man. I think I also needed to hear some screaming when I was fifteen or sixteen. This was one of the first albums that made me want to play the drums. I used to try and sing along, but after a couple of minutes, my throat would hurt and I'd just drive fast. Every time I listen to this album, it's over too quickly.
The Violent Femmes - Add It Up
I had this tape playing in my car for most of my junior year in high school. It's awesome. I finally got to see them at the Aragon when I was seventeen, and it's still one of the craziest shows I've ever been to.
Ani Difranco - Not a Pretty Girl
Similarly to Tori, I needed to hear somebody saying this stuff. Saying that crazy shit had happened to somebody else, and hearing power and survival and inspiration in the music and lyrics.
The Pixies - Doolittle
I had a lot of friends in high school who I was intimidated by because they had "advanced musical taste," and loved The Talking Heads and They Might Be Giants and others who I totally didn't "get." I got The Pixies though, man. I got the shit outta them.
Immortal Beloved - Soundtrack
All Beethoven music. It formed what I wanted to do with my life. For real. After hearing these recordings, I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to music. And it was the first time I heard my most favorite piece of music ever in life (2nd movement of the 5th Piano Concerto) Thanks, Beethoven!
Concrete Blonde - Bloodletting
Another from my sister. Johnette Napolitano's voice is one of my favorites, and was perfect for those confusedly-angry days of high school.
The Mix Tape Emily Weaver gave me for my 16th birthday.
First time I heard NOFX, the Descendents, A Tribe Called Quest, and the first time I really listened to Sly & the Family Stone, Sam & Dave, and Ella Fitzgerald. A HUGE influence in my developing musical taste at the time.
Prince - Purple Rain AND The Hits 2
I love them both. I associate The Hits 2 with driving to summer school the summer before my junior year. There was this ten-day period where my parents took my sister to look at colleges and drove my brother to Space Camp (that's right, Space Camp!) and left me home alone, and all my friends slept over in my parents' family room and we drove to summer school, listening to Prince. And Purple Rain because...well, dude! It's Purple Rain!
Beastie Boys - Ill Communication
I get this surge of energy when I hear them. Every time. I remember having fantasies of having MCA as a roommate, doing it with Ad Rock, and playing video games with Mike D. I'd still do all of those things.
Portishead - Dummy
I think that, for awhile, I may have been a little depressed in high school and college...
Björk - Homogenic
This is the only album besides Appetite of which I have two copies. The song "Jóga" is one of the most painfully beautiful things I've ever experienced.
Jeff Buckley - Grace
I listened to this album non-stop the summer of 1999, between my sophomore and junior years of college, right after Sarah Wallbank died. I would literally sit in my dorm room and cry and write and then wander around in a daze. It's still sort of hard for me to listen to this now.
Jane's Addiction - Nothing's Shocking
Another of the most rocking albums, but with a lot more beauty than Appetite. Every time "Summertime Rolls" comes on, I think of Christopher and laying in the bed in my dorm room on a beautiful, sunny day, and I feel more alive and full of love.
Hot Hot Heat - Make Up the Breakdown
Hands down one of the most upbeat, fun albums ever. The lead singer of this band is like maybe my height and has this great head of puffy hair and wears jeans that must be from the little girls department. But I digress. I mention this album because it marks a point at which I started listening to music that was way more fun and a little less...serious?
The Dismemberment Plan - Emergency & I
I remember Kaleb letting me borrow this album and telling me to listen to the track "Spider in the Snow." I did, and I was hooked. I've listened to this album in its entirety at least twice a month for the last 7 years. It just works.
Le Tigre - S/T and Feminist Sweepstakes
I listened to these a lot whilst living in the Womyn's Center at Beloit College and while playing in The Koochies with Sarah, Cody, Helen and Nicole. Very meaningful days...Once again, more wonderful ladies saying more things I needed to hear.
The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
"Fight Test" will always make me smile. I listened to this a lot when AJ-then-Tony was making his solo album and I got to play piano on it. This album means summer to me.
Postal Service - Give Up
Ben Gibbard's voice, while totally wienerific, is pretty lovely, and I actually listened to the lyrics of this one, unlike most music I listened to after 1999. Beautiful music for winter or summer days, which I think is a rarity!
Devotchka - How It Ends
The first album I ever owned by this amazing band. I love them.
Simon and Garfunkel - Greatest Hits
This album is one of few that I listen to while I'm in Ireland. One, because it's one of the few albums that whoever is there can agree on listening to. And that's only sometimes. But also because being in Ireland can often be bittersweet, and this album always helps me remember that when I want to come home, I already sort of am. Also, remember in Almost Famous when Anita puts on the song "America" and tells her mother "this song explains why I'm leaving home to become a stewardess?" Awesome.
Devotchka - A Mad and Faithful Telling
This album signifies a turning point in my life - right around a year ago - and has been a sort of necessity to me for the last year. I can pick out specific chords in "Along The Way" that lift up my heart. I get chills when I hear Nick Urata's tired voice on "Undone." Every time I hear this album, I feel like I'm discovering something new.
Written on 2/26/09.
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