Thursday, August 9, 2018
Technically, this is an EP. So it doesn’t really count towards my 10 albums. #outsmarted In Fall of 2010, I was a broken-hearted boy. So broken-hearted that I would stare at my shelves of music and be unable to select anything to listen to. Before that I was screaming into my pillow. It was rough. Anyway, craving music, but being unable to pick anything to listen to, I turned to Pandora to pick music for me. The thing about Pandora is that you really have to make use of those thumbs up and thumbs down to get that algorithm to know you. It took a little bit of time to fine tune it with my thumbs before it started playing me new things that I liked. The National was one of the bands Pandora introduced me to. There’s just something about a baritone voice and sad-sounding music. Be still my black, aching heart... The first song of theirs Pandora played for me was “Wasp Nest.” I loved the song, and I wanted more, but would the rest of the EP be able to deliver? Or was “Wasp Nest” a fluke? I wasn’t really buying CDs much anymore at the time, and I didn’t want to take a gamble by buying the EP on vinyl without yet having an opinion on the band. Also, I was very impatient. So I rolled the dice and bought the EP digitally... on Amazon.com, because fuck you, iTunes. I don’t think it was the first album I bought digitally, but it may have been the first album I bought digitally from a band I wasn’t really familiar with. I did love it, and now I have all of The National’s albums on vinyl and they’re part of my go-to music for feeling sad, which is almost always all the time.
Tom Petty first entered my awareness when I was in junior high. “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” one of two new tracks recorded for a greatest hits compilation, was released in 1993. The song, and the video for it, were EVERYWHERE. “Wow,” I remember thinking, “who’s this new upstart?” Joke was on me, because Mr. Petty was already in the midst of an impressive decades-long career (but, actually, the joke is on you, because I never called him a “new upstart”.) Anyway, I’m sure I eventually got my own copy of that greatest hits album (probably from the Columbia House Record Club). Then I think I got the soundtrack to “She’s the One.” Probably also from the Columbia House Record Club. I slowly started working my way through his back catalog, buying whatever I could find used at Zia. I think ‘Wildflowers’ was the last of his back catalog albums that I picked up. I was married and miserable. Working a shitty overnight job at Home Depot. Life felt rough. One night at work, I was at the end of the BBQ aisle, and the song “Time to Move On” came up and I was just overwhelmed. I needed to make changes in my life. And I got on that right away… 18 months later. The song “Crawling Back to You” has also always resonated me, and has made me wonder if it has shaped the way I love, you know, back when I loved. Anyway, you know how I mentioned “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”? Well, Tom Petty was in the midst of recording an album when he had to cut that track for his greatest hits collection. The album he was recording? ‘Wildflowers.’ Boom.
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
FUUUU-UUUUUUUUUUUUCK. Seriously. FUCK! This album is… I dunno, man, it is something else. They sent Buddy Guy down to North Mississippi and had him cover Junior Kimbrough, T-Model Ford, and Cedell Davis, amongst others. They got this hot fire that sounds unlike anything else in Buddy’s discography that I’ve heard. Words like “raw” and “primal” come to mind. I found this album in the early aughts, just randomly as I was picking up whatever Buddy Guy albums I could find at Zia. Some years after I discovered it, I offered to loan my album to someone as a primer for the Buddy Guy show we were going to see as a group because I was hoping 1) That she’d also get heart-eyes for the album and 2) I’d get to see her dumb face. I got to watch her watch Buddy Guy live in concert and it was adorable. Her reactions were childlike in wonder and awe. I knew I was in trouble. And I was right.
Postscript: I was lamenting the fact that this album was never released on vinyl and was going to mention that sad fact in this write-up, but after looking on eBay, I learned it was re-released on vinyl in Europe this year and then I had to check Amazon, of course, and I’m proud to say that my copy will be arriving soon.
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
For the most part, I’ve never really been one to keep up with current music. While my peers were maybe listening to Nirvana and Beck, I was listening to Jimi Hendrix and “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” (the song, NOT the album). By the time I thought to give ‘Nothing’s Shocking’ a listen, Jane’s Addiction had already broken up and reunited. And other anecdotes about how out of touch I am! Laughter! Laughter! I didn’t know that The White Stripes existed until I heard the second single released from this album, “Fell in Love with a Girl.” Can you believe it? A song with prominent, fuzzy guitar caused my heart to go pitter-patter pitter-patter. Me! So, for a brief period of time I started to look around at what was going on, and I found bands like The Datsuns, The Hives, Soledad Brothers, The Mooney Suzuki, The Black Keys, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Kings of Leon. But sometimes you can go too far, and that’s how you wind up with three Jet 12” singles.
Monday, August 6, 2018
I think I was supposed to pick ‘London Calling,’ but I didn’t. Just know that I’m probably just as disappointed in me as you are. Actually, more so if I really start to think about ALL of my life decisions. You’ll probably (not) be surprised to hear that I picked up this album on CD in high school. I promise, not all of my 10 days will be albums that I discovered in high school. “Rock the Casbah” was the first song I heard by The Clash, but I can’t remember exactly where. I have a vague recollection of hearing it on an episode of The Simpsons. But maybe I saw the music video for it before that? Who can say. Sophomore year, in English class, I was writing a short story about two monkeys in North Africa. Naturally, “Rock the Casbah” came to mind and I realized that I needed to get the album it was on. Did you know the original title for this album was ‘Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg’? Did you know that I bought a bootleg version of it on vinyl from Amoeba Records that one time I was there? Did you know that I didn’t realize what it was until putting together this write-up and that I still haven’t listened to it? I *told* you I was disappointing!
Sunday, August 5, 2018
If my memory serves me correctly, and it almost never does, this was my gateway to the blues. Not blues-rock, but *blues*. Yes, it’s kind of ridiculous that I was introduced to the blues via a white man with a peacock tattoo on his chest, but this isn’t the place for deep discussion. And yes, you could argue that SRV isn’t really blues-blues, but like I said, this isn’t the place. It’s a place for me to ramble tangentially about inanities. So, I’m pretty sure my mom had this album first on cassette tape. Eventually I got my own copy on CD, but it didn’t really connect with me right away. That didn’t happen until the summer between sophomore and junior years of high school. I was housesitting for my aunt for an extended period of time. Definitely more than a week, but maybe not quite two weeks? I don’t remember, but whatever it was, it was the longest I’d ever been away from home. Naturally when one is going to be away from home for that long, one needs supplies, including music. I brought a stack of CDs with me, including this one. I don't know why it was different this time, but it was. I got infected. Fucking blues guitar, man. I started tracing my way backwards on the map. Found Buddy Guy. And the three Kings of the blues: Albert, B.B., and Freddie. Howlin’ Wolf. Elmore James. And on and on.
Saturday, August 4, 2018
It’s hard to pick a single Led Zeppelin album to include, but obviously, I need to include one. This isn’t my favorite Zeppelin album, though, in all honesty, I don’t know if I could pick a favorite. They all have their advantages, even Coda (don’t believe me? Check out the 2015 reissue!) I haven’t actually listened to this album in a while because of [REASONS]. When I started junior high, I was going to a different school than all of my friends. All because someone told my mother that I was “gifted and talented.” Joke was on them; I was neither! The bus ride to school wasn’t fun. There was this older, loud, brash cool kid named (I think) Jake. Jake did me the huge favor of letting the entire bus know that my resting depressed face made me look like I was constipated. Further, he did me a solid by reminding everyone of that by calling me “Constipated Boy.” I guess people who can’t shit look sad? I dunno, but that actually tracks. For some reason, this torment didn’t make 11-year-old me any less sad. Go figure. Anyway, the bus driver would listen to the local rock station in the morning and that’s primarily how I was exposed to music. One day, I heard this song and it just got stuck in my head. I had no idea what it was called or who did it, but there it was, lodged in my brain matter. It had this wail and this riff! I’m really awful at describing sounds. A howling wail, maybe? And a thundering, repeated riff, perhaps? “Ahh ahhh-ahhhhhhhhhhhh ahhh.” So time goes on and this song is still stuck in my head. Eventually I get into Led Zeppelin, because that’s what happens when your friends get into Led Zeppelin: you get inducted into that club. It’s contagious. And eventually I got my hands on a copy of Led Zeppelin III, probably CD at first. Imagine my surprise when track #01, “Immigrant Song,” comes on and it turns out to be the song that was stuck in my head for years. And that’s how Led Zeppelin got into my blood and bones.
This album has a reputation for being pretty heavy on the acoustic stuff, but It has the aforementioned electric “Immigrant Song,” plus “Celebration Day,” “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” and “Out on the Tiles.” A little bit of something for everyone. Also, the cover art is pretty awesome. It’s got a volvelle and shit. I’ve had a copy of the album framed and hanging on my wall for years, which, admittedly, does slightly limit access to the volvelle somewhat.