Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fifteen Albums

addict's choir
Don't take too long to think about it. List 15 albums  you've heard that will always stick with you. List the first 15 you  can recall in no more than 15 minutes
This is the latest list game travelling around Facebook.  Facebook was heavily into list sharing about a year ago and I had begun to attach my own rules to them, like I would only list 10 of anything (because they tended to be “25…. whatever.  Colors you wanted to paint your bedroom when you were 13.”  Oddly specific, and then 25 of them.  So I said only 10 and I stopped chain-mailing members of my Friends-circle.  FB fads because too big and too annoying too fast.  But they also fade quickly also.  Like your interest in Facebook.
The albums list came around and I was tagged and as it happens I have been deep into my albums of late.  I spend a lot of time with them because I am converting them to digital format, and I found I responded strongly to the world “album.”  That means something concrete that stops around 1989.  The list, as they occurred to me, did not include any CDs, or MP3s I have recently purchased from iTunes.  It meant what it meant, and I posted my list.  I promised a follow-up post to explain why I think they made the first 15 I thought of.  This is that post.  And the longest intro since “Someone to Watch Over Me.”
Taken as a group, I see a few commonalities:
  • soundtracks
  • double albums
  • 1970s (no shock there)
  • I am not terribly original
1. The Beatles - Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
I could have known this would be first.  It was the first record I bought with my own money.  The Beatles had already broken up by the time I discovered them, and 6 years later John Lennon was dead.  I ruined my collector’s value by actually cutting these card-stock buttons out and wearing them.  The moustache is long gone.
2. Jesus Christ Superstar (movie soundtrack)
And since my opener had been a double, I couldn’t get them out of my head.  This album was pressed for record changers, so that sides 1 and 2 were on separate discs, with 3 and 4 as their flip sides.  Brilliant design.changer
3. Gone With the Wind (movie soundtrack) Why do I say this will “stick with me”?  That crazy theme song, of course, and Mammy’s theme, and the indigo purple cover with its pre-Harlequin artwork.  I had it special ordered for me from the record store, and pestered the store manager until it arrived.
4. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
In our day, you had to like this record even if you didn’t.  There was no escaping it.
5. Nanci Griffith - Lone Star State of Mind or How I discovered Nanci.  The scene is me (22) in a sparsely furnished Fensgate triple, eating ramen from a saucepan and staring out at the river at Cambridge, and WERS playing Nanci’s Beacon Street:
Gonna wake up crazy to the cry of the trains on Beacon Street
So far from home, so far from love, so far from a friend in need
And all I need is a heart to hold and a good night's sleep
And all I have is the cry of the trains as they bid farewell on Beacon Street

I went in search of everything she had ever recorded and she has been the soundtrack of the important moments ever since.
6. Grease (movie soundtrack)
Because when you are 14, you want to sing loudly, and often, “She’s a real pussy wagon.”
7. Steve Martin - Let's Get Small   Test me. I still got it.
lovesongs 8. The Beatles - Love Songs
It was brown and faux leathery, embossed in gold, and serious looking.  It was like an adult record.  And the Beatles did things with stereo that made you understand what the fuss was about.  My best friend’s mother had picked this out for my birthday, and I was always moved by that.
9. Jackson Browne - Running on Empty
Learning the words to the long version of “The Load Out” (…we got Richard Pryor on the stereo…), reading the liner notes, listening closely to the long open to try to hear what the audience was saying.  Wondering how his hair feathered so right…
10. Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road ejshoes
Stuck with me? I could get lost inside that artwork – so much so that I devoted some house-bound winter time to recreating the cover, poster-sized, in colored pencil.
11. Billy Joel -  Cold Spring Harbor
This was out of print for the longest time.  The piano man’s first album, had been recorded incorrectly, and was said to be unbearable to listen to.  It was a Billy Joel fan’s grail to find, though, until it was released in the 80s and we found out that it really is unbearable to listen to.
12. Teen Addict's Choir
If you had been able to walk past that album cover without wanting to know more, then I can’t explain it to you.  An itchy Up With People singing the hit parade, directed by – what’s this? – Andre Crouch.  I paid whatever the vendor at the collectible fair asked of me.
13. Oliver! (movie soundtrack) Legendary is my and Dodie’s love of all things Oliver! 
14. Guitarra Armada: Songs of the Sandinistas
Among my record collection is a section of revolutionary and protest songs, including our own in their 18th C ruffles and flourishes.  Guitarra Armada features the schoolhouse rock collection of Nicaragua’s revolution, where the People learned how to defuse a bomb and assemble their rifles through the rhythms of 6-string guitar.
15. Natural High (stage soundtrack)NaturalHigh60s
This one popped into my head just as the list came to an end.  It stuck in my head to the point that when I discovered eBay, this was the first thing I searched.  And of course you know… it was there


  1. Well, I may just have to do a similar thing... a combo of my dad's LPs and the ones I bought at the Harvard Coop when it was... itself. You know, with price stickers and a cobblestoned Palmer Street...

  2. So sad - thanks to iTunes & Pandora I dont know any "albums" - just random songs.


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