Friday, February 20, 2009

25 Albums

Yes, this is a Facebook survey, but it turned out to be so long I figured what the eff, I'm saving this bitch for digital posterity. Here is the list of 25 albums that changed my life, arranged alphabetically. As it turns out, this is not the same thing as my 25 favorite albums, because some of these I really would be okay with never hearing again. But these were all crucially important to me at certain points, perhaps to an embarrassing degree given some of the odder selections.

1. Arcade Fire – Funeral
I was fresh out of college and back at home. I was the youngest person commuting on the Metro-North every day at 6:22 in the morning to a job that I didn’t love, and for the entirety of the winter I drove to the station in the dark, sat with no windows all day, and commuted home in the dark again. Then I found this album and everything was better. Actually it wasn’t better—it just made being sad feel semi-romantic.

2. Beatles – Help
The curse of being the oldest kid in your family is that you don’t have anyone to guide your taste but your parents. Mine tend to like things like Rod Stewart. Or Il Divo. Or American Idols. So when my cool friend and her cool older sister knew all the words to “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” I wanted to know all the words to “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” and I got the album, and my parents hated the Beatles, and suddenly there it was! Pre-adolescence! (For the record, I still know all the words, and moreover, it was the second song I learned how to play on the guitar.)

3. The Cranberries – No Need to Argue
The first CD I ever bought with my own money. I loved the shit out of this record. It’s one of those albums I grew out of and forgot about, but recently I heard “Zombie” in Vinnie’s Pizza and my heart skipped a beat.

4. Eminem – The Slim Shady LP
Weird, right? But yeah, if this is a list of albums that changed your life, this was one of them. It came out when I was maybe a junior in high school, and my best friend Kai and I heard it, immediately went out and bought it and sat in her room with it on repeat. For, like, weeks. We talked about Eminem. We theorized about his lyrics. We couldn’t stop listening to “Just Don’t Give a Fuck.” This was not normal behavior for two girls who, basically to this day, will not admit that grunge is over. For whatever weird reason, this was the album that reminded me music existed outside the scope of X107 (though I will still pour one out on the curb for the world’s best deceased alternative rock station).

5. Footloose – The Soundtrack
This record (we had it on vinyl) contained my very first favorite song: “Let’s Hear it for the Boy,” by Deneice Williams. Your very first favorite song is a life-changing thing, so this had to be on here. Shout out to the Doveman cover, which I was set to hate and didn’t.

6. Frou Frou – Details
Did everyone go through that annoying depressive phase when they were 19? Because I sure as fuck did and, in between drinking bargain vodka and crying in my dorm a lot, this was the only record that sounded good. It’s not an album I listen to much now, but then it meant a lot.

7. Heart - Heart
Not Heart’s best album, for sure, but the one my parents had on vinyl and the one that started a lifelong love affair with the Wilson sisters. I feel like Heart gets no respect, Dangerfield-style, but Ann and Nancy are total BAMFs. (Bonus trivia: I have a custom made hoodie with “Ooh, barracuda!” embroidered on the back.)

8. The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America
I just love this album. I’m not sure what else to say about it. The thing about the Hold Steady is suspension of disbelief; you either forget everything you’ve ever felt about electric piano and grandiosity and embrace it, or you hate it and you’re the reason I went to see them alone. Twice.

9. Hole – Live Through This
Basically informed my idea of the kind of girl I wanted to be, for better or for worse. There is a reason why my wrist reads “tear my heart out,” and it is track 9.

10. Juliana Hatfield – Hey Babe
The same cool friend who knew all the words to “I’ve Just Seen a Face” taped this album for me when we were 12 and I wore out the tape. Then I wore out two copies of the CD. Hearing Juliana's little kid voice sing thoughts I had thought myself was eerie and comforting, and is still both.

11. Leona Naess – I Tried to Rock You But You Only Roll
This is one of those albums that, were such a thing possible, you would put out in the Candy Dish of Music. It’s sweet, it’s light, it’s quick, and it’s the soundtrack to two of the best summers of my life. (If you do check this out, listen to “Mexico” at night.)

12. Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville
13. Liz Phair – Whitechocolatespaceegg
Liz is one of two artists who gets two spots on the list, which is probably cheating. But suck it. These are totally different albums and listening to them back to back like I do at least once a week is like United States of Tara-ing myself. Whitechocolatespaceegg is friendlier, it’s easier, it’s polished. It’s placates the me that holds doors for strangers. Exile is scarier and dirtier and blunter and probably even a little uglier, and it’s a soundtrack for the me that sometimes comes to work without going home from night before.

14. Lou Reed – Coney Island Baby
Sometimes I just listen to this album for a month.

15. Madonna – The Immaculate Collection
Okay, seriously, I know. But Madonna is…I don’t know, kind of like a crazy relative you see maybe twice a year and you’re like, oh, now you’re doing yoga? No, now you’re going to tell us all awkward stories about your love life. No wait, now you’re Jewish. But you love her because it’s comforting that she’s been in your life forever. I’ve been listening to Madonna since I was a kid; my mom loved her, Kai and I took up the Madonna torch in middle school, and then I knew a LOT of drag queens in college. Every song on this album has at least fifteen memories attached to it.

16. Nick Drake – Pink Moon
I don’t have anything to say about this album that people haven’t said approximately two billion times, but it got me when I heard it and that’s that.

17. Nirvana - Nevermind
Legally required to be on a life-changing albums list for people who attended middle school in the mid-nineties. I vividly remember requesting “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at every single canteen and, just once, the DJ caved and sandwiched it between the Real McCoy and Montell Jordan and I was so happy I could’ve died right there in my Jncos.

18. NoFX – Punk in Drublic
This album refuses to leave me alone. It was the soundtrack to my freshman year of high school. But then I was kind of embarrassed about my love for it by 11th grade and eventually lost the CD, then found it again in college, lost it, found it again when I moved back home, lost it, and then awkwardly got it back again last year from a dude. I’m not even sure I like it anymore (except for “Lori Meyers,” which I love), but I will never be able to shake it. I guarantee if I threw out the copy I have now, four would appear in my bag. Like I’d cut the head off the NoFX hydra or some shit.

19. The Replacements – Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash
Not my favorite Replacements album, but it was the first one I heard and “Hangin' Downtown” sold me on what became my favorite band. I mean, if you look on my network my computer’s name is Paul Westerberg.

20. Robyn – Robyn
This album was the best thing about going out in Manhattan for the first two years I lived in the city. New York nightlife was something I never expected to get involved in and I did it as a plus one, so I never felt entirely comfortable hanging out with angular people with angular hair at parties that don’t even exist anymore. But hearing Robyn amid ENDLESS FUCKING PLAYS OF “COMMON PEOPLE” was always the bright spot of the night.

21. Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
The Smashing Pumpkins circa Mellon Collie were the first band I loved collectively with other people. There were several of us superfans and we all made sure to study and memorize the lyrics to this entire album before seeing them in concert, after which we wore the shirts to school. Another band I outgrew (like, you know, the entirety of American culture), but I heard a few tracks recently and remembered immediately how exciting it was to love the same thing as your friends.

22. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Greatest Hits
To me, Tom Petty is that acquaintance you’re always swearing you’re going to actually hang out with and you never do, but you’re legitimately happy to see them whenever you run into each other. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to one of his albums in its entirety besides Full Moon Fever, but the singles have been my car jamz and bar jamz and, fuck it, life jamz for as long as I can remember.

23. Weezer – Pinkerton
24. Weezer – The Blue Album
I got on the Weezer boat way, way late. I liked them enough back in the day, but I fell hard for Pinkerton around the same time I was commuting and full of commuterly despair. “The Good Life,” hello, Jesus, thank you. Pinkerton made me love the blue album more than I ever had, and together they keep me extending the olive branch to Mr. Cuomo after every one of his ensuing crappy albums.

25. The Wrens – The Meadowlands
I downloaded this by accident and then didn’t stop listening to it for six months. Contains the saddest song ever written, “13 Months in 6 Minutes,” and the whole album puts my stomach in knots.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:57 AM  
Anonymous stupid boy said...

I have to say I really like Pulp but I also really don't like Common People. His N' Hers was one of the first albums I saved my lunch money to buy and I guess it was a bit of a life changer. "Do You remember the First Time?" is still probably my favourite song and video ever.

9:21 AM  
Blogger el capitano said...

I totally agree w/ about 90% of your CD changing your life selection. I especially hear you about the first two!!!

Also, regarding Vegas, the post above, I completely agree. Anyone who is born in Vegas and stays in Vegas I think needs to be psychologically checked out. This is coming from someone who dated someone who was raised in Vegas. Many of the times I have been I never even stepped on the strip, and I have to say it is probably the one place on earth that consciously breathes and boils its repulsiveness. Because of this, for people who are motivated entrepreneurs who know how to take advantage of a situation, Vegas couldn't be more perfect. Anything goes in this town.

5:48 PM  

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