Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Approximately 10 Albums That Influenced Me Most

I would not bother naming the same 10 Beatles albums that influenced everyone I know as a teenager if those were the 10 albums that influenced me most as a teenager, but they are not, and since no one actually says how they were "influenced" by the 10 albums they say influenced them most as teenagers I will say how my 10 albums actually influenced me.

P.S. I turned 13 in November 1967.
P.P.S. Most of the albums that influenced me most as a teenager were not released when I was a teenager
P.P.P.S It is all but impossible to find listings of classical music releases by year. About 50% of my choices might be classical if I could do so.

1. Dylan - John Wesley Harding. Already wanted to be a folksinger and songwriter. This helped seal the deal.

2. Led Zep - Led Zeppelin. I think of summer camp. I think of my one year of slightly beserk glory as a kitchen aid. I think of lying on a bed of pillows, in an area enclosed by a bar in the counselor's porch, listening to this album on a reel-to-reel, with headphones. I think ecstasy with a small "e".

3. Grand Funk - Closer to Home. My first romance unfolded to this set of songs. Nuff said?

4. Traffic - Either John Barleycorn or Low Spark. They capture the plangent feeling of my sophomore year in college, to the point where merely thinking the first line of the first song in my head ignites an emotional spark that has its own, lifelong unique quality.

5. Joan Baez - One Day at a Time
Joni Mitchell - Chelsea Morning
Judy Collins - Colors of the Day
Laura Nyro - Eli and the Thirteenth Confession
That counts as one album, sorry. If you don't understand that then you certainly won't understand what a haunting female vocal can do to the heartstrings of a lonely teenager.

6. Grateful Dead - Live Dead. Instant Deadhead.

7. Pharoah Sanders - Karma. I discovered modern jazz when I heard this in a dorm room, and not to long afterward sat a few feet from him as he wailed away at a Chicago club. Life has never really been the same since.

8. Marvin Gaye - What's Going On. After years of diverging audiences and tastes, suddenly black music/white music became a meaningless distinction again, a fine thing for a white kid who grew up as a minority in a black neighborhood.

9. King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King. This will have to stand in for a half dozen or so other progressive rock albums that more or less permanently changed my listening habits. The others being by the usual prog suspects, but put Nektar's Remember the Future near the top of the list.

10. David Bowie - Space Oddity. No matter how eloquent we may wax about our heroes (pun I guess intended) there are only a couple of life-changing artists out there. Rock star or Blackstar or movie star, here is a guy who I sunk my teeth into and never let go of, even seeing his performance in The Elephant Man on Broadway. Influenced me and a zillion others by clinging tenaciously to the proposition that rock is an art form. Stayed ahead of his time right to the end

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ian here. As noted on your FB page, great choices. A few comments.

Although Court is unarguably the most important album you turned me on to (re influencing me), I would say that, in a near-180, Bringing It All Back Home was the second. Rarely has an album had so much influence on me personally: like Court, it has "haunted" me since I first heard it. As I think you know, Gates of Eden remains my single favorite Dylan song. And although I did not remain a Dylan fan at all times, he was always in the "timeline" of my life, particularly with Blond, Blood, and then Desire.

Had I been a teenager at the time, I, too, would have included Zep I.

Closer to Home seems the "strangest" of your choices, though I think I "get" it specifically vis-à-vis how much you talked about it (and played it).

Again, Traffic (particularly Barleycorn) was also very influential on my pre-teen years.

Although I certainly liked the Dead early on, I think you know that Blues for Allah was the album that most affected me. I remember the first time we listened to it in your room: it is one of the most vivid musical memories of those years for me.

Sadly, although Bowie was, like Dylan, always a "thread" through my life, it was not until Heroes that I really took to his work. And Lodger (his most criminally underrated album) and Scary Monsters cemented that.

Finally, it turns out that six of your choices came out in 1969, the year you would have been 15. I sort of envy those few earlier years, when "first" albums like Zep I, Court and Space Oddity (true, his eponymous album came first, but it doesn't really count...) were coming out.