My Life In Music
As readers of Riding With Rickey's 3-day Homeric Odyssey this week know, there's one of those pesky but lovable "memes" floating around whereby you're supposed to choose a single album for each year you've been alive. Now, music conossieur that I am, I initially was really excitied to do this. But then I realized something: unlike many of my hipster brethren, I don't listen to very much new music any more. Haven't for quite a while now, in fact. Sure, I have my 2-3 active bands that I still follow, but that's about it. Which means that, if I were to do this, the years 2001-present would be a melange of Radiohead, Beck, Beck, Radiohead, Beck, Beck and Radiohead. In other words, you, the reader, would be bored, and I, the writer, would come off looking like a narrow-minded, un-hip boob. No thanks.
However, this baby is too good to resist. So, here's what I'll do. I've compiled a list comprising my first 27 years of life, which takes you from the halcyon, Mets-losing-in-the-World Series year of 1973 all the way to the crazy, Y2K, Mets-losing-in-the-World-Series year of 2000. Today: the 1970's.
1973: Some of these early years were tough, but this one wasn't. It's got to be Pink Floyd's magnum opus, Dark Side of the Moon. Seeing as how 99% of my readers are late-20-something/mid-30-something males, I don't think I have to explain this one to you. But if, for some reason, you've never slipped on some headphones (oh, excuse me, "earbuds") and fallen under the spell of Clare Torry screaming "Great Gig in the Sky," dear lord, man, what are you waiting for?
Bonus observation: I once was listening to this album in college during an, um, "altered" state, and I had visions of Ms. Torry running through a forest as someone was chasing her. I know.
1974: Here the lucky winner is Bob Marley and the Wailers' incomparable "Natty Dread" album. Listen to it for the politics, the music, the ganja-worship, or all three.
Bonus observation: The little-heard studio version of "No Woman, No Cry" appears on this album. Unfortunately, it has nothing on the sweeping, majestic live version that everyone knows and loves from "Legend."
1975: Just when people were counting him out, Bobby Dylan turns around in 1975 and releases "Blood on the Tracks," a gut-wrenching account of Bob's divorce, which features some of the most searing, indelible, incandescent pop lyrics ever written. And I mean that without exaggeration. Consider:
She lit a burner on the stove and offered me a pipe
"I thought you'd never say hello," she said
"You look like the silent type."
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century.
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin' coal
Pourin' off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you,
Tangled up in blue.
Jesus. I rest my case.
Bonus observation: When Flitgirl and I started going out, I played this CD for her and she cried. What a smoothie I am.
1976: Led Zeppelin's vastly underrated and overlooked "Presence" wins this round. True, "Tea For One" is a complete knockoff of "Since I've Been Loving You" and "Hots On For Nowhere" is a throw-away, but you were never, ever hear a set of drums recorded any better or played any better than on "Achilles' Last Stand" or "For Your Life." Makes me physically exhausted to listen to those two tracks. In a good way.
Bonus observation: I think I'm biased against "Tea For One" because I was listening to it when I puked from the stomach flu in my freshman dorm room in college.
1977: I'm going off the beaten path here and picking Steely Dan's "Aja." Why? Because it's my list, dammit! Also, this is a damned fine album top to bottom - great production, great lyrics, impeccable playing from some top-notch studio musicians assembled by Messrs. Fagen and Becker.
Bonus observation: I recommend listening to "Aja" in the dark. Why? I don't know, I just do. Just seems to work.
1978: Much like Dylan in '75, the Stones had been written off by many in 1978 when they rolled out a little dandy called "Some Girls." Go ahead, try to not sing the "doo-doo DOO-DOO doodoodoo," chorus to "Miss You." I dare you.
Bonus observation: When I was a kid, I recall seeing some half-assed music video for "Beast of Burden" starring Mick Jagger and Bette Midler (yes, Bette Midler). Did I dream that?
1979: There's no way I can avoid going with Roger Waters' insane ego trip known as Pink Floyd's "The Wall." True, the plot is incomprehensible self-pitying tripe, but there are some dynamite numbers on here, my two favorites being "In the Flesh?" and "Hey, You."
Bonus observation: There's little in this world that makes me happy, but here's one thing: I love when radio stations play "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" immediately before "Another Brick in the Wall (part 2)." That's the way it should be done.
Tune in next week for (shudder!) the 1980's...
[Editor's note: Oh gosh, I didn't dream it. Mick, how could you?]