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.
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.