Sunday, March 1, 2009

15 Albums that Changed My Life

Lately it seems there is a new Note circulating every day on the social networking sites. For those of you who do not frequent sites like Facebook, Notes are useless informational pieces of drivel that allegedly allow the writer to share countless bits of trivia about themselves and then tag other friends who feel pressured into writing up their own version of the same irrelevant crap.

I say all this in jest of course because, just like silly blog tags, I find most of them impossible to resist.

Today’s version asks all of us to: “Think of 15 albums, CDs, LPs that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life. Dig 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.” This list could never be complete at just 15. I am a huge music person, every album or song I’ve ever heard has totally effected me, shaped my life. There is a movie called High Fidelity where at one part after a bad breakup John Cusack’s character reorganizes his record collection autobiographically, this is an intriguing idea to me because music goes with every moment of my life. So here are my selections in completely random order of some of the more profound memories I have and what record might have been playing at the time those memories were created.

1. Ride the Lightning - Metallica. This cassette played so often I had to buy 2 new tapes when they snapped. Generally it broke somewhere around "Fade to Black". I have no idea how my Mom didn't think I was suicidal with the number of times I listened to that song in high school.

2. Appetite for Destruction - Guns N Roses. Pretty much the same situation as #1, except my mother could not have had a clue what the words were or I never would have been allowed to listen to this I'm sure. I could do the Axl heroin sway like nobody's business.

3. All 9 Barry Manilow albums released between 1973 and 1982. I can't even begin to describe the fun weekend mornings when we all used to dance around the living room on that pea green carpet on Magnolia Street singing into fake microphones. I still hold firm that Barry is one of the best songwriters around. Years later when I worked for a record company that sold concert tickets I got sixth row seats for me & my mom to see him live. One of the best shows I have ever been to in my entire life.

4. Whitesnake - Whitesnake. How the record needle did not dig holes all the way through & out the other side is beyond me. I still get chills when I hear "Still of the Night". This album was all about weekends in my room at our new house trying to sing like David Coverdale. That man could rock the socks off of any singer back then.

5. Hangin' Tough - New Kids on the Block. This album pretty much epitomizes an entire era of my life, which admittedly did include all their albums but this was really the one that sparked it all. The stupid dorky jokes, growing out of childhood and into adolescence, countless stories, and bonds that could never be broken is what this album means to me.

6. Thriller - Michael Jackson. This album is single handedly responsible for introducing me to the worlds of funk, soul, brass and a very healthy respect for all things Motown. I was 9 when it was released and likely had no clue what half of the songs were even about but from that moment on I fell in love with any male artist who could pull off falsetto.

7. Waiting for My Rocket to Come - Jason Mraz. In mid 2002 we bought a rehab house out in western Massachusetts and just after that, this album made its way into the stores. I bought it the day it went on sale, his groove was infectious on "The Remedy (I Won't Worry)". Come spring of 2003, we were broke and I was working on the house alone most days in a place where I knew no one and did not speak the predominant language of the geographic location. I don’t know if it is possible to begin to explain how this album saved my soul during an entire year of home improvement.

8. The Goonies Soundtrack. My pre teen years are wrapped up in this movie, soundtrack, actors and longing for adventure. The songs aren't particularly fantastic or amazing but it was about what the time period represented -- friends and afternoons playing movies in Karen's backyard, buying teen magazines and fantasizing what it might be like to be an actress living in LA, trying to hold onto innocence and what it meant to be growing up and changing.

9. Ten - Pearl Jam. My first apartment, keg parties every Friday night, Derek and I dancing in the living room, séances and ghost stories, Marie stealing my camera, the Apollo, creating fake inspection stickers that looked real, stealing cheese wizz and getting free chicken from KFC with the help of a hair brush, working at Coconuts, Marlboro Reds and warm beer, watching the sun rise, running out of oil, MCC and Aerosmith at top volume. Good times.

10. Crash- Dave Matthews Band. Wow, where to even begin. This album came out at a time when I was greatly in need of breaking out of the hard rock haze I had trapped myself in for way too many years. It was my transition album for many things -- music, relationships, living situation, friends. Whenever I feel like it is time to change a big part of something in my life I always fall back to this album and smile.

11. III - Led Zeppelin. The time and place when I started listening to this album is something I have to save for my memoirs and if I never write them then it will simply fade into the great big crock pot of the Universal cosmos with me forever. "Tangerine" remains to this day my favorite Zeppelin song and every time I hear it I definitely get misty for the time and place and what it all meant.

12. Reckless - Bryan Adams. It would be hard to top winning tickets on Kiss 108 to see him live at Worcester Centrum and having my dad drive me & my sister all the way out there so we could go and rock out at such a young age. That night was one of the best ever. This album will always remind me of Wendy and how much fun we used to have listening to all kinds of music in our tiny little bedroom together, making up silly dances or changing lyrics to goofy stupidness.

13. Whatever - Godsmack. This album got me through quite a few times, good and bad. It will always remind me of flying to Raleigh, North Carolina for one day to go to Ozzfest in Charlotte and passing out from heat exhaustion after spending 12 hours blazing in the 110 degree, humid, July sun then sleeping through some of Pantera and all of Ozzy in the back of the Chevy. (And who the hell was that guy you let hold me up with his leg anyway?). Sully will forever be on my celebrity top five list.

14. Jesus Christ Superstar. Another childhood whopper. Every year at Easter mum would pull this out & play the whole thing from side 1 through side 4. I know it probably sounds awful but I kind of always felt bad for Judas. I wanted him to be raised better so he wouldn't want to kick Jesus' ass all the time. Jealousy really is a bitch.

15. Freedom - Melissa Ferrick. Bored of the crap pop radio was playing I decided one afternoon to tick down a little lower on the dial to the college stations. I was in the car on my way to drop some stuff off at the first apartment I was ever going to live in all alone, after a particularly bad end to an inexplicable 2 year relationship. As if it was fate, the title track started just as I settled on the station; the words spoke to me so fiercely I went the next day and bought every single album she had released to date and haven’t missed one since. If I ever had a girl crush, Ferrick would be it.

No tagging of course but if anyone is starving for a fun blog and wants to dig into the back of their mind for what music has shaped their life I would love to read about it. Nothing intrigues me more than what music speaks to people.

Now I must post an apology to Theresa because I am not able to complete the photo tag she wants me to do. It is the ‘sixth of the sixth’ tag and unfortunately I have so many folders it would be impossible to do this. So I wanted to give her a shout anyway and thank her for thinking of me, clearly she understands my very, very, serious inability to avoid the train wreck known as the blog tag.


pastrywitch said...

I am not playing tag, but I do have a fun Whitesnake memory. I was at a Waffle House in Florida, and this really old guy looked at the jukebox, put in his money, and picked a song. Still of the Night came blasting out - the look on his face was priceless. I think he must have been expecting the '50's song by the Four Tops.

Maggie May said...

a wonderful list! i think i'll do this at some point.

TheresaJ said...

I completely understand... as I said, no pressure.

Loved this post, although I don't think I could do it. I LLLLOOOVVVEEE music and don't think I could really narrow it down to 15. If I did, I would spend far too much time on it, going over it again and again, and it would consume all of my time. I take my hat off to you, and it's a great list, by the way. Some of my favs are on there too. Did you ever see my 11/07 Plant/Page post on my blog (may have been before you started reading)? Here it is: I also saw Dave Matthews at the first ever concert held at Pac Bell Park in San Francisco. It was amazing! I've seen a few others on your list as well, including Michael Jackson with the Jackson Five (and family) when I was in the 6th grade, but those two were definitely the high points.

Chris said...

Jenn, I really enjoy this blog . . . thanks! Like you, my albums have more to do with personal memories than musical genius (mostly). Just a few:

KISS - Alive! My first KISS album . . .love those guys!

Clifford Brown: Everything he ever recorded (I'm a jazz guy).

Miles Davis: Kinda Blue

Billy Joel: Glass Houses

STYX: Cornerstone (associated with my first love)

Foreigner 4

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Kate that is classic, bet you giggled, I certainly would have! :)

Will keep my eye out for it Maggie

Theresa I know what you mean, it was tough but the more I dug in the more I realized it is individual songs that would be the toughest to nail down. This took a while to do because entire albums shaping my life are special thing indeed!

Thanks Chris! Ooh great selections there...I was just on my way over to leave you a comment on your game show post, read quick this morning & no time to comment -- HI.LAR.I.OUS!!!!!

Suldog said...

Considering our age difference, quite a few of the same. Which J.C. Superstar? The film soundtrack or the original with Ian Gillan as Jesus? As for Godsmack, any band with a guy named Sully is alright by me!

Bridgete said...

Hmm...a snow day project? I think so.

This was fun to read.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Jim I have to imagine it was the original since she had it on vinyl and we're talking from MANY years ago. Yeah, I am a lover of all music (clearly, as evidenced by this list haha). Curious which we have in common, though I'd guess III could be a yes while NKOTB would probably not make your cut lol

Bridgete, thanks and yes since its a snow day I am doing the other fun one circulating right now -- first line from 30 songs so everyone can guess title/artist. May never get posted though.

Judi FitzPatrick said...

First, to answer Suldog's question, definately the original soundtrack. I still have it and play it once in a while - it was a big part of my life as well.
As for your list, what can I say about Barry - he is now and has always been (at least since the 70s) may all-time favorite performer. The concert you took me to (and "D" helped pay for before leaving for AZ) was the best. Listening and all of us singing along to the albums is something I will treasure forever.
NKOTB - yikes - you played that so much that I know most of the words by heart to this day. I took you & "D" to the concert at the old Garden; thank Goddess for ear plugs!
Thriller - also brings back happy memories as we not only listened at home, but also at Jazzercise(tm).

The one that I might have thought would be on this list was Xanadu - but maybe it was just that one song where we could do the duet.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane. Don't have time to pick up the torch, but certainly enjoyed reading your list and what they all meant to you.

Love you, Mum

Verão said...

You know I love your list!! I just had to have a second take on your Barry Manilow! You do have a great variety of musical taste!

I will have to sit down and do this one time!

Rosebud Collection said...

Jenn, I laughed at your picks..Our oldest daughter is a great music lover..she enjoys it all, except rap..Years ago, she won tickets to the Michael Jackson concert in NYC..She couldn't pick which sister to go and didn't want to hurt any, so she took me..Yep, there I was, in NYC watching Michael Jackson..Have to admit, he was great..Still have the book and ticket stubs. It was during his Thriller time..we even got three albums of his, including Thriller..

Helen said...

Anything Bruce Springsteen, anything Eagles, The Sound of Music, REM, Chess, Abba, Coldplay, Plain White T's, Hoobastank, The Pretenders, anything by Ravel or Bach .... I love music!

Chris Stone said...

Great post! my soundtrack would of course have "young americans" by david bowie, which i danced to while a PCV in Fiji. "nuclear waste" by some south pacific band of the same time frame. and playing pool to a song by the red chili peppers.... forget which one.

oh and tiajuana brass... my mother did housework to it. lol. maybe i will do a post on this! my mother also did housework to the "outlaws" by waylon jennings and whomever. *she didn't like housework!*

Chris Stone said...

oh. forgot. i've a question. what do you think about facebook? i've joined. and it totally does not interest me. whazzup?

Andrea said...

I saw this note and facebook and posted it on my music blog. It was so hard for me to pick albums since I usually make compiliations. I had fun reading yours!