Thanks to the absurdly talented J-Money, (thetypingmakesmesoundbusy.com) I was finally inspired to do the Facebook-y, Hack-y, Lame-y, Twenty Albums That Changed My Life Thing.
So, heretofore, in no particular order, The Twenty Albums That Changed My Life Forever, Approximately, So Far, Thing.
1. Billy Joel, Turnstiles
The easy thing to do would be to say "Billy Joel's entire catalog" and be done with it. But I'm going to make myself stretch a little bit-one per artist and no "Greatest Hits" copouts unless absolutely necessary. This one makes it because of the presence of my single favorite song of his, "Summer Highland Falls", and even despite the presence of "All You Wanna Do Is Dance", a rare clunker for him. Everything else on it is a gem. For me, this was always a contemplative album, made for looking at the ceiling and wondering things.
2. The Beatles, Rubber Soul
Now, you could say Revolver. I wouldn't say you're wrong, necessarily. This is supposedly right around the time they discover pot. (According to books I've read, Dylan introduces it to them. That's not impossible, but it's just too NEAT to be true.) They haven't gotten totally wierd yet, but the grooves are miles deep-Ringo coming up with amazing fills and little riffs, and the guitar playing is top notch. This is a sing along while driving somewhere fun sort of album. This is going to ROCK when Beatles Rock Band comes out. And, dude-Norwegian Wood. Norwegian WOOD. If I had talent, this album would have made me want to be a musician.
3. Nirvana, Unplugged
Cobain's death, of course, gives it a patina of importance that it might not really have. But it's really good, edgy and raw while still being unplugged. The last song, though, raises the hair on the back of my neck. It's a Leadbelly cover, "Where Did You Sleep Last Night", and Cobain simply kicks the ever loving shit out of the song. He's in the zone, and he lends more emotional weight to it than you can possibly imagine. I remember clearly listening to the CD(I missed the TV special when it was on) , then just going back and listening to the last track again and again. He goes to a scary, raw place to get that noise out of his throat, and once you hear it, you won't forget it.
4. Led Zeppelin, Zoso
Hard to argue with an album that has Stairway to Heaven on it. What got me about this one was that literally for years, I would play the first side of the tape-Black Dog, Rock and Roll, Battle of Evermore, and Stairway-until one day I flipped the damn thing over. Imagine my surprise! "Misty Mountain Hop", with that enormous, scary, I'm coming to get you drum sound. THAT would be fun on Rock Band-once. I would absolutely break the thing playing this song.
5. Original Broadway Cast Recording, "Rent".
Now, those of you who know me know that I don't cry. I'm a guy, and we don't do that. It's one of the rules. It is the merest coincidence that at the end of the Rent show my wife and I attended, a whole lot of dust got in my eyes all at once.
My wife can't stand the movie-I thought it was OK-but the musical is better, no question. I can't describe how great it is-it's like very light pop metal, except good. The fact that the composer is no longer with us is one of my Arguments That God is Dead.