Sunday, February 22, 2009

Top Albums

I got tagged for this on Facebook and I didn't know how to respond. It's supposed to be the albums that mean the most to you, but many people are listing albums which are considered great albums. And I like great albums--I'm not one of those singles only kind of people--but in terms of my top albums I came up at sort of a loss. I didn't spend my money on music in my teenage years and so the list is limited to my favorite artists. So I decided I needed to explain my choices.

1. The Wizard of Oz, original movie soundtrack. What can I say. This movie/album was the end all, be all for me, up to about 7. I had all the books, the play sets, the dolls, I even saw Margaret Hamilton in one of her last performances as the Witch. I wore down the grooves (isn't it nice that that is a thing of the past?).

2. At 8 it was replaced with Camelot (original Broadway recording). It was just the perfect show for me. I read The Once and Future King and The Mists of Avalon and any other Arthurian stuff I could access, good and bad. I still think Alan Jay Lerner was the best lyricist of all time. I read his autobiography, checked out again and again from the library (and still kick myself that I didn't pick it up years later in a bookstore in New York). I loved it's blend of dark and light. Also bubbling under were My Fair Lady and Oliver! which taught me cockney (or the movies version of it). Somewhere in there I also found Cabaret and learned that as well, and Kismet.

3. I didn't listen to rock and roll until I was 12 because my parents didn't listen to it. We listened to Big Bands and Standards and some opera and show tunes. And then at 12 I discovered Duran Duran. But here it gets fuzzy. The album out at that time would have been Duran Duran (original--reissue) with Is There Something I Should Know in constant rotation on both the radio and MTV (when I could view it at friend's houses) and boy, did I love that video, but I also loved Save a Prayer from Rio (although bizarrely missed hearing Rio, the song, for at least six months).

4. And at the same time that I saw Duran Duran's posters in record stores I saw David Bowie for Let's Dance, but I didn't get the cassette until a few years later when a friend gave me hers. And I distinctly remember another friend's older sister playing Young Americans, the 45 for us at some point. Mixed in to that I caught some run of old Bowie videos on Friday Night Videos or some other show. After seeing Ashes to Ashes and Boys Keep Swinging, I was hooked. So is it Let's Dance, Heroes, Scary Monsters, Station to Station? I love Hunky Dory now. But I never owned these albums (they belong to my husband).

5. This same friend's sister played us all of Hounds of Love by Kate Bush when she bought it and I was hooked. I saved up and bought cassettes of every one of Kate's albums to that point because Kate answered something in me. To paraphrase Emily Dickinson, I felt as if the top of my head would come off. I now know that HOL is actually Kate lite, so I would say that it's a tie with The Dreaming. Suspended in 'Gaffa's lines, "Am I doing right, can I have it all now" seem to sum me up so often.

6. Can you remember the first time you saw "Sweet Dreams"? Annie Lennox. I wanted her, or I wanted to be her. The voice, the beauty, the bravery. Saved up, bought Sweet Dreams. Played it over and over.

7. Then too, Savage got me through some high school times--Annie's pain, my pain, Annie's experience, my desire for life.

8. I've mentioned in other posts how Don't You Want Me? by The Human League was one of the first New Wave songs I ever heard and probably one of the first rock and roll songs, but it would be more than 10 years before I heard Dare, the album all the way through. There were numerous bands that I heard then, who's CD's I now own (or downloads), but I couldn't buy them then. I did own Pretty in Pink (soundtrack). It seemed to validate the music that I was listening to.

9. And it got me into the Psychedelic Furs. I found Mirror Moves in a discount bin in a convenience store in Muncie, IN. Years later Should God Forget, the Psychedelic Furs retrospective (double album) would help get me through the worst time in my life.

10. Music for the Masses (Depeche Mode) and 11. Strip-Mine (James). This was the soundtrack to my high school romance. I only got the actual CD's for both of them. I tapped them off of my high school boyfriend and when I went away I stopped listening to them. I missed Strip-Mine the most.

12. Big Thing (Duran Duran). Seven and the Ragged Tiger was not that good--too overproduced and then there was the hiatus and Notorious, while interesting and gritty is still too much Nile Rogers. I think it's on Big Thing that they really matured as a band (by which point no one cared). I listened to Big Thing over and over during Christmas break of my senior year, writing college essays (which were all due on Dec. 31) and an essay for a competition on Atlas Shrugged. Even now, passages of the album will make me think of passages in the book.

13. A Little Night Music (original Broadway album). I don't know why, this one of all Sondheim, maybe the connection to the Bergman film. Maybe just a memory.

14. Gone to Earth (David Sylvian). I remember seeing David's picture in Star Hits at some point, and while I didn't develop a crush on him I thought him so beautiful--almost too beautiful. I know I heard about Gone to Earth at some point, borrowed it from a friend in college, and then played my then boyfriend/now husband's copy over and over. What I've needed from David's lyrics have changed over the years but there's always something there.

15. And the list wouldn't be complete without L'Arc~en~Ciel, my mid-life crisis crush. But the crush is over and the music remains. When I first heard L'Arc, I felt as I did when I first heard Duran or Bowie. That this was necessary. But because I was downloading, and downloading in the twilight of their career, I got a few random songs, and a few more and then whole albums and pretty much the whole discography together. Tierra and Awake remain my favorite albums. And Hyde's own Roentgen deserves a mention, but I cannot say which of those is the most valued.

And just to round it out, another list for which I have not been tagged, but began thinking about anyway:

Songs I could not do without:

1. Forbidden Colours, instrumental--Sakamoto)
2. Forbidden Colours, vocal--Sylvian)
3. Kasou-L'Arc
4. Grey Lady of the Sea--Duran Duran
5. Gymnopedies--Erik Satie
6. Claire de Lune--Debussy
7. Suo Gan--Empire of the Sun soundtrack
8. Suspended in Gaffa--Kate Bush
9. I Love You Goodbye--Thomas Dolby
10. A Drop of Colour--Hyde

I have not been the kind of person who makes mixes--I stress too much about the order, but with my lovely random feature on my mp3 I can pick the songs and let the player order them differently each time. I recently made a big list of "Happiness Songs"--those which make me smile when they begin, even though they may not actually be happy songs (I must be the only person in the world who smiles when they hear Disappointed by PIL or How Soon is Now sung by Richard Butler (Morrissey cover). I then made another list called "Sweeter than Happy" because these songs make me a little sad, but happy in my sadness. All of the above are on there.


musing said...

the crush is over and the music remains

My infatuation for L'Arc has definitely cooled but those "longterm relationship" brain chemicals I once read about have kicked in.

I think I'll always love them. :)

Novel said...