Thursday, July 01, 2010

Play it again


What album have you listened to more than any other over the course of your life? Now you got to take into account albums from all stages that might have played in your early years... What did your folks listen to, how about your siblings? This is not about what album you listened to most while stoned at Hampshire college... throughout your entire existence.

For me it is incredibly hard to pick the first one and took some time. I instinctively was going to lead with a Stones or Beatles album, because they were played before I had control by my father, then I got into them at an early age, they were played by roommates, at parties, and I still listen to both bands often today. But that doesn't really work within the confines of this question. The fact is, the Beatles and the Stones have SO many good albums, it is impossible for me to select one over the other. I would be lying if I said I listened to Sticky Fingers or Revolver more than Some Girls or Abbey Road or Exile on Main St or the White Album - too much quantity and quality in their catalog. If it was what band - hands down these two. But I digress... After lots of internal debate, I've narrowed it down to three:

1. The Clash - London Calling: One of the few albums that I have gone through several non-stop listening periods with. Usually, I fall for an album and listen non stop for, say, a couple weeks. Then there are albums like the others on this list that are in an ongoing rotation every few weeks or months. London Calling is the only album I have rediscovered over and over again. In high school, when I was introduced to the Clash - I spent months with it and the songs on this record taught me a lot about the width and breadth of music - something that changed my perspective forever. Then, a few years later while at Fordham, and primarily because of my roommates - it came back out with full fury. Months of listening to it, non-stop. This time I had some very different interpretations of the album and the songs. If my first go around taught me a lot about musical styles and variations - this time it represented more of state of mind, it opened up some pretty different world viewpoints, and on many - let's go with - un-sober nights, it was the backdrop to some pretty aggressive discussions. This was new to me, and this album represented a catalyst of sorts. And then, recently, maybe 2 years ago when I was commuting from the city every day.... Jimmy Jazz came on shuffle all, something that was a constant occurrence (not Jimmy Jazz specifically, but Clash songs playing) - but this time I decided to shut off shuffle all and play it the whole way through... that lasted for over a week, 2+ hours of commuting each way, by myself. I hadn't really spent time with it - a prolonged time of countless relistens in nearly a decade and, once again - it felt new. And that is what is so great about music - it bites you over and over again, but leaves different teeth marks as time goes on. As we grow, as our experiences change us, music changes as well. Not the chords or lyrics, but the way we interpret them.

2. Tribe - Low End Theory: Anyone who knows me half well could have guessed this would have made the list. But the truth is, I spent a lot of time debating between this and Beats, Rhymes, and Life. At the end of the day, Low End Theory was my introduction to Tribe and that first encounter led to a life time obsession. That said, if it were not for Beats, Rhymes, and Life - this would be standing alone by itself. I guess I could say that for the Beatles and the Stones, but they made so many albums that took time away from each other. In this scenario, if Beats Rhymes Life and Low End Theory were 1 album or one of them were never produced, the other would be an easy shoe in. I honestly don't have a witty way to describe how much I listened have listened to these albums, but they were the first CD's I ever wore out from just listening. And because B,R,L wouldn't have happened without Low End Theory, and because Low End Theory popped my Tribe cherry - it edged out. And I love Midnight Marauders, People's Instinctive Travels and the Love Movement... but they never came close to these two.

3.Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: My only true post high school album to appear on the list. Discovered Wilco in 2001 while at Fordham... and they have been my favorite band since. Quick aside - by far the best thing about college is the social education, of course - but it is not the going out, building people skills, learning to socialize, figuring out how to tap a keg, etc. that I am most thankful for - it is the exposure to so many different things. That is why I am so glad I went to Fordham and Umass, Boarding school and Public school, lived in several states, etc. Each place had that many more people and cultures, with different music, movie, food tastes. I've been fortunate to experience a very wide variety as well and when I visit my hometown and catch up with high school pals that never left - the one thing that strikes me is how limited they are. And I suppose that is one way to live - I'll just say that I'd never give up a chance to be put into a new and uncomfortable environment. You can't grow and learn in a fixed routine. Anyway, Since 2001 Wilco has been my favorite band - I have seen more Wilco concerts than any other band, this record is usually sitting on the record player when I get home, it is constantly in the mix.

There are a slew of ones that come close: Pet Sounds, Paul’s Boutique 36 Chambers, Revolver, Sticky Fingers, Nirvana Unplugged, Appetite for Destruction, Illmatic, Ten, 3 Feet and Rising, shit - there is a chance I listened to Under The Table and Dreaming 200 times between 97-2001.n But these three rise above

I also like to think about what will be on the list 25 years from now? Will these three all stay on? Will I add to this or will one be replaced? I will tell you one thing, this list and these albums are the reason I constantly seek out new music... because those moments when an album really hits you and really sticks and causes you to forget that any other music exists for an extended period of time - those moments are pretty damn special.