A number of my friends off and online have been working on track listing their lives. I did this a few years back, when I turned 40. Never got around to burning them to disc, but here it is in all its lengthy glory - complete with a few additions at the end.
Disc One: The Lonely Years.
XTC - Life Begins At The Hop. It was December 8th, 1979. We were going
to the Cars concert at Nassau Coliseum. Mike stole a bottle of
Canadian Club from his parents liquor cabinet. Frank was driving the
van down Jericho Turnpike when he rear ended someone. Luckily, there
was no damage so we all went our our way. "I can't feel my hands."
Frank told me as he continued driving. This was my first concert. The
opening band played this song. They sounded good, even if I'd never
heard of them. They finished their set with 'Making Plans For Nigel.'
That one I recognized. They had me then and there.
The Ronettes - Be My Baby. This should be on disc two because of the
Retrorock show. It goes here, though, in homage to all the AM radio I
listened to in the pre-consultant, pre-disco era. This is a great song
by one of the greatest vocalists ever.
Buddy Holly - Peggy Sue. How can one love the Beatles and not worship
this man. I can't.
The Beatles - I'm Looking Through You. My favorite from my favorite
album. It was my 13th birthday. If Modell's had the bowling ball I
liked life would be different. Instead, I bought '67-'70. A life
Bruce Springsteen - Candy's Room. Bruce never really hit me until
later. His voice was too mumbled and unclear for me. Then I listened.
Really listened. Darkness on The Edge of Town. Whoa. And this song. I
saw him do it live in '84. 'She has fancy clothes and diamond rings.'
The guitar soars, the drums pound. Rock and roll.
Led Zeppelin - The Immigrant Song. There was a rumor than every kid on
Long Island got a copy of Led Zeppelin IV on his 16th birthday. Not
true, but by listening to WBAB you'd think that, I've always loved
their third record. Lots of bluesy acoustic guitar. It's their Rubber
Soul. You cannot deny the power of the F# minor barre chord!
The Police - Born In The 50's. I don't listen to this band much
anymore but they were a big part of my high school years, even if no
one else I knew listened to them. Sting rocked once, a long time ago
The Pretenders - Precious. Chrissie. Sooooo sexy. What an opening riff
to a debut record. What a guitar sound. Then there was her voice,
purring and growling at the same time. What a turn on. And then she
drops a f-bomb toward then end of the song and you practically cum
while listening to the rest of the song.. That song is hot!
The Cars - Just What I Needed. Somewhere, deep in the bowels of my
recorded materials collection, is a tape. A tape of me. Singing this
song. Live. For a group of mentally handicapped people in Melville,
New York. None of you will ever hear it.
The Who - I'm One. Tough call, finding a song from these guys. Bless
'em. I was supposed to go to junior prom, but my 'date' had other
ideas. So I had a snit and didn't go. Instead, I called Frank and we
went to see The Kids Are Alright. I was unfamiliar with The Who, not
after that. Wow, these guys were cool. The drummer was crazy. The
bassist just stood there and moved his fingers in ways that were
seemingly impossible. And they beat the crap out of their instruments.
How neat is that? Funny, smart, rowdy. Thanks for helping me get
through some bad times Pete.
Ringo Starr - Photograph. Poor Ringo. Maligned as the dumb one. But he
had some lovely hits. The song has different meaning now.
George Harrison - Run of The Mill. I'm not going to post the lyrics
here, but they are so heartbreaking and wonderful and true to me.
George is my favorite Beatle. I always thought he'd be too mean to
die. In his mansion. Complaining about the heat. Too cheap to put a
lump of coal in the heater. Wearing his sweater while counting all his
money. I miss the world with him living in it. But life goes on within
and without him.
Paul Simon- America. 'I'm empty and aching and I don't know why'
Strong stuff for a sixteen year old.
Elton John - Bitter Fingers. My brother turned me on to him. The first
single I bought was Crocodile Rock. He was the coolest. Flamboyant.
One of the best concerts I ever saw. I didn't listen to this song much
until later. I had Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player and wore
it out. Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy has been elevated
to most favored album status these days.
Nick Lowe - Marie Provost. He's the Jesus of cool for a reason. Chock
full of wit and stolen riffs. How can anyone not love Nick The Nife.
And this song, based on a true story. The funniest rock song, ever.
How can you not laugh until you cry, "She was the winner/who became
the doggie's dinner/she never meant that much to me/poor Marie'
The Kinks - Shangri-La. I have to thank Marcus Reilly, wherever he may
be, for turning me on to this band. It was senior class trip to Bear
Mountain, and he had a tape of One From The Road. Man I was hooked nad
devoured everything I could find by these guys. I love The Beatles,
but they've never made me weep they way Ray Davies can. Saw them once.
Ray came out in a ratty trench coat and acoustic guitar and started
playing 'Well Respected Man' I could have gone home then and have been
happy because the rest of the show was kinda lame. But I do love Ray,
crazy bastard he is.
Disc Two: The Fredonia Years:
Oh to be seventeen and on one's own for the first time. Was I open to
new experiences? Not really. I was terrified. Had a 21 year old
roommate - thank God we instantly bonded over National Lampoon and
Firesign Theater records or who knows what would have happened.
What kept me alive? What fountain of tunes did I drink from?
Still a Beatle geek. They took up more than half of my record
collection. I branched out safely into anything Beatlesque.
Squeeze: Mumbo Jumbo - East Side Story lived on my turntable freshman
year. Later, Synchronicity would be the first record played in any new
residence. But Squeeze had the crème brulee hooks and harmonies that
sounded like you-know-who, and I don't mean Voldemort.
REM: Begin The Beguine - This record came out and roared. And you
could finally hear Stipe's voice clearly. And you realized he really
didn't have anything to say. Life's Rich Pagaent stayed on the
turntable until thieves stole it. I loved that turntable. Onkyo,
direct drive with pitch control for the bootlegs. Came close to
meeting the band at a college radio convention in DC. Didn't want to
deal with the lines of people, but I still have one of their early
U2: Like A Song - Sure Boy and October came out first. But War. Talk
about the passion. The anthems on this record are heartfelt and true.
I wish I had the extended dance mix of 'Two Hearts Beat As One. Man,
BJ's rocked when that one blasted out of the speakers. Walls covered
in sweat. I remember the Billy, the bar owner, asking me to tone it
down one night when the crowd became a bit rowdy. I played 'Where The
Streets Have No Name.' The crowd sang the first line of the song, "I
want to run/I want to hide'. Still sends chills. Like A Song is a
great album cut that didn't get the play it deserved. Great power
chords at the end. Is honesty what you want?
T-Bone Burnett: The Sixties - Introduced to J. Henry when Proof
Through The Night was released. Why isn't this record released on CD
today? The record is a revelation that still works twenty years later.
Saw him live once, playing guitar for Sam Phillips. This song has
amazing relevance today. He updated it in the 90's with lots of
references to The Starr Report. Proof Through The Night is one of the
finest releases of the eighties.
10,000 Maniacs: Planned Obsolescence - This is a band I watched from
the beginning. The growth, the petty squabbles, the multiple drummers.
Once jerry came aboard the band clicked it up into something special.
Rob Buck was a unique guitarist. He used amazing effects in the early
days of the band. I'd be drunk, open mouthed trying to figure out the
sounds he got out of that thing. I hardly noticed Natalie, in a fetal
position, screaming on the beer soaked floor. I always liked this song
from their Human Conflict #5 EP. This leads to one of the best segues
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Sweet Hitchhiker - Thank you Chris
Turano for showing me that this is the best American band, ever. And
they never had a number one record. Simplicity and strong lyrics. A
Retro Rock radio show mainstay.
Lone Justice: Soap, Soup and Salvation - I have my Aunt to thank for
many things in my life. During this decade she bolstered my record
collection and turned me on to countless amounts of music and culture.
As she once said, though, about Maria McKee, "We can't get her
arrested." How this band, and her music, failed in achieving
commercial and popular success when lesser talents got the brass ring
is a mystery. They were alt-country ten years too soon I suppose.
The Clash: This Is Radio Clash - The beginning of this song inspires.
Great in the bar. The extended dance mix is amazing. The only band
that matters, still.
Elvis Costello: Lipstick Vogue - Lyrics that equal the viciousness of
Bob Dylan, 'love is like a tumor/you've got to cut it out' Incisive as
ever, even over twenty years later.
Patti Smith: Frederick - The high priestess of cool. Wave may not be
her best record but this is a heart felt love song. Who knew Fred was
Victoria Williams: Holy Spirit - Another artist my Aunt introduced me
to. What a gentle, real soul. Her strength in dealing with her MS is
always an inspiration. I brought her a copy of Happy Come Home to sign
after seeing her live. Her eyes got all big when she saw it. She
seemed amazed that anyone still owned it.
John Hiatt: She Loves The Jerk - Well what do you know? Another Geffen
artist. Thanks Auntie. Hiatt put himself through a lot of internal
pain and lost a lot (a record deal and a wife to suicide) before the
decade had ended. I'm glad he survived ad is still making great music.
One of the best songwriters, ask Bonnie Raitt.
Laurie Anderson: Example #22 - Boy did Big Science open my eyes. Such
a powerful artist she is! Independent and strong. What the hell does
she see in that ass Lou Reed? My housemates and I would get high
listening to this. Those were the days.
Talking Heads: Cross Eyed and Painless - The second greatest American
band. What rhythm. The howling of the Byrne. What a shame he abandoned
the best musicians who could interpret his music. Saw them during the
infamous Stop Making Sense tour. Loved the bug suit.
Kate Bush: The Big Sky - I'll admit it. It took awhile to get Kate.
Wasn't ready for The Kick Inside, or The Dreaming at first. But them
Hounds of Love came along and The Whole Story with the kick ass remake
of her own Wuthering Heights that displayed her now formidable voice.
And she'd grown up in so many ways. Haven't seen the Big Sky video in
years but remember being impressed with the military imagery and her
amazing hair. Kate's all that.
Robyn Hitchcock: Airscape: At first I though he was another acid
casualty. Now I'm quite fond of loveable ol' Uncle Robyn. He's the
witty man in the corner telling weird tales about things in plastic
bags and dead wives and men with light bulb heads.
Crowded House: Sister Madly - Neil Finn winked at my wife while
singing this song. The scoundrel! The cad! It took awhile, but now I
know That The Temple of Low men is their best record. Seen them live
three times. First there was a chicken pox epidemic on campus (which
my wife caught) and the show was almost cancelled. Second time Tim
Finn was touring with them but left a couple of shows before. Third
time, Paul Hester quit the show the night before. They used Sheryl
Crow's drummer for the first part of the show because the replacement
showed up late from Cleveland. Crow sucked and still does.
Otis Redding: I've Been Loving You Too Long - Take it from me. Otis is
the best hangover cure. Better than chocolate milk, even.
Warren Zevon; Desperadoes Under The Eaves - I owe Joe Sawtelle an
apology. I didn't quite acknowledge him in high school I could have
learned the chords to Werewolves of London years sooner. My first
college roommate Roland set me straight. Side one of Excitable Boy is
great stuff. Seeing Warren perform this song was priceless.
Disc Three: C.O.C.O.A. years. Columbus, Ohio - City of Amateurs.
We left Fredonia after she was accepted into graduate school at Ohio
State. It was the first time I'd really lived in a big city. Sure, I
grew up in the suburbs of Long Island, but it's different than the
inner city. Fredonia was a very small town about an hour south of
Buffalo. My work hosiery has been a part time job at Bank One. Four
positions in various wine shops. A wretched job in a college
bookstore. Part time at B&N. The Statehouse Museum Shop and the
library. Life became living through my wife's academic troubles.
College hockey, death and an attempted suicide of employers,
separation, divorce, nervous breakdown, new person, new job, new life,
new life, new kid. So today, and into the future, of course, there is
Roxy Music - Take A Chance With Me. I aspire to be Bryan Ferry. Not
the pasty faced one scene in first class scared shitless (naturally)
after the plane he was on was nearly hijacked, but the well dressed
one. The music is wistful and horny. A phrase we came up with at the
Fredonia bars. Didn't really understand what it meant until later,
walking the streets of Columbus at two in the morning. Avalon is quite
the romantic record. I want his wardrobe.
Steve Winwood - Colored Rain. I've always liked Stevie. Talking Back
To The Night is a fine eighties record. It was a decade of hits for
Winwood. Saw him live at the now defunct Capital Music Center at
Beulah Park. He did a few Traffic songs that I didn't realize were
Traffic songs. "Oh, he wrote that?!?" It's pleasant, peaceful hippie
shit that isn't quite dated. Well some of it isn't.
Emmy Lou Harris - Wrecking Ball. My cable system has Music Choice.
I've found a number of artists through this service. This song kept
coming on. I'd race to the television to see who it was until it
finally got entrenched in my head. Then I bought one of the finest
records of the nineties. Ambient sounds for late at night. Drinking,
Moxy Fruvous - Horseshoes. It took some time to get into their Wood
album. It was their live performances that drew me to them They sing
so well and have some tremendous energy. It's a song that says to move
on. I'm still trying to figure out how they never hit big but
Barenaked Ladies did with less talent. Fruvous was a sweet band.
World Party - Way Down Now. Who was that gal in Fredonia who said I
should listen to Karl Wallinger? Didn't like Private Revolution all
that much but Goodbye Jumbo is a stunning record. He still sounds like
Lennon when he wants to be Jagger and vice versa. At no time should he
ever channel Stevie Wonder. Karl, be yourself tonight.
Sam Phillips - Private Storm. The Indescribable Wow is one of my
favorite records but this song off Cruel Inventions is very revealing.
"Screaming into the storm" Tells me she runs a lot deeper and darker
than he world of Omnipop. I think she's one of us, any Asder would
know what I mean. That said, her navel is better looking than
Jayhawks - Blue. One of the loveliest songs of the decade. Dang,
Louris and Olson sang well together. The song doesn't drag on. Says
its point in 2:50. That's all you need.
Liz Phair - Shitloads of Money. She will remind me forever of
depression, hope, loss, personal failure, Baltimore. Despite the
recent corporate pandering, which to many resulted it he loss of her
indy cred, she possesses the capability of putting together some great
hooks. And I liked Whitechocolatespaceegg, even if she never returned
my phone calls or answered my mail. Wait. That was Elizabeth Wurtzel.
Wilco - At My Window Sad And Lonely. The band of my middle age. Can't
say when I first heard them. Do remember that Summerteeth was the
first record of theirs I bought. Must have been around the time of my
divorce. What can I say? Tweedy resonates with me more than anyone has
recently. Sure the old stuff will always be there, but what about now.
I'm an adult now, The Pursuit of Happiness sang. Give me adult music
for adults. I suspect he's a major control freak but he's not evil. I
Am Trying To Beak Your Hearty really didn't change my opinion of him,
not did Man In The sand. I do hope he gets well and that the headaches
can be controlled. Mermaid Avenue Volume One is one of the most
important releases in any genre in the past twenty five years. It is a
treasure than demands preservation.
Kasey Chambers - Barricades and Brickwalls. I'd never heard of this
Australian gal who was opening for Lucinda Williams. About a third of
the way through her first song I'm hearing Maria Mckee. Then Gram
Parsons, then her own bad self. One of the few shows I've seen where
an unknown won over the crowd. She's impressive. If she can stay
healthy and stay in the states for a lengthy tour, she's going to be a
major star. Her new record is out down under and is set for a
Lucinda Williams - Essence. Another of the great songwriters and story
tellers. She's a drama queen, liar, cheat and a probable thief. Then
she writes about it. But is it true? That's her talent. Did it really
happen? It doesn't matter, the song survives.
Beach Boys - Love Is Here. Chris Turano was right. Brian Wilson rules.
Took me years to discover that. Listen to Pet Sounds. You hear the
man's soul, (Do you ever hear McCartney's soul?) and some of it isn't
pretty. He's been through a lot. Many demons, some he created. I've
seen him twice during his comeback and the performances, despite the
weakened vocals, are passionate and true. A great deal of his recent
success can be directly attributed to…
The Wondermints - Ooh Child. This band of twenty somethings understand
70's pop better than Eric Carmen ever did. There's fondness for the
era that shows in their music with and without Brian. They protect him
while on stage and bring out the best in his music. Gifted musicians.
Gram Parsons. - Devil In Disguise. Another late discovery. Ended up
watching Music From 54th Street or whatever the show was. John Hiatt
was hosting. Emmy Lou Harris was there, as were Vic Williams, Ryan
Adams, and others. I liked the tribute songs. So I checked out The
Flying Burrito Brothers. This song led off the disc and I was hooked
when the voices kicked in. The Hillman/Parsons via Everly Brothers
meet the Rolling Stones. Read up on Gram's sad, irresponsible past and
hope that Ryan Adams doesn't end up the same way.
Joseph Arthur - Dear Lord. I have daisydumont to thank, along with
Music Choice. He can be drony, and some of his songs are a bit
lengthy. But when he's concise, look out. I gave Redemption's Son to
my sister, who said he has Jesus issues. Well, heck yes. Major
Sondre Lerche. You Know So Well. Again with the Music Choice. Trying
to get my kid settled down and this guy comes on. What an arrangement!
A voice of Donovan. Asked my wife to write down his name so I wouldn't
forget. Found out he's a young man from Norway who at the time was
barely 21. How poised and mature his music is. A bit more polish and
some help with the lyrics and he'll be around for years.
Norah Jones - Come Away With Me. I love finding artists that break out
six months later. Nyah nyah nyah, told you so! Her voice is so darn
clear and honest. Sure, she's dull as dirt live. It's going to be hard
for her fans and critics to forget how great her first record was.
She'll never top it.
Paul McCartney - Beautiful Night. I rag on him a lot. But this song
kept me alive. The soundtrack to a marriage falling apart. I was all
over this song. Played it constantly. So sweet. Sure he and George
Martin rip off Abbey Road, but so damn what. He wrote that, he's
entitled! I suspect Flaming Pie will be his last good album. But this
song though. Wow.
John Lennon - Life begins at 40/Nobody Loves You When You're Down and
Out. Couldn't let Paul have the last word, as much as he's trying
these days. Life turned upside down at 16. First rock and roll
assassination. Again, John could bare his soul when Paul couldn't.
There's the difference.
So who'd I miss? Quite a few artists: Joe Jackson, Radiohead, Carole
King, Darlene Love, Jonathan Richman, Dire Straits, Dave Clark Five,
NRBQ, The Jam, Gillian Welch, The Northern Pikes, Dusty Springfield,
Mrs. Miller, Bob Dylan, Queen, Pearl Jam, Peter Case, Jackie Wilson
and about fifty others.
It's been almost five years since that list was put together. There are a few more I'd add now. Maybe as an EP or something.
Zombies - Care of Cell #44. I discovered Odessey and Oracle about 38 years too late. Listened to it incessantly. Googled them and found out they were due to play the Ohio State Fair, in a free show, with Ian Hunter opening. I was psyched, then intrigued when Ian Hunter cancelled and Denny Laine was his replacement. Ultimately, Laine was a trainwreck but Blunstone and Argent were incredible. I was amazed at how well Blunstone's voice kept and Argent, despite some Spinal Tap moments, still has the chops.
Arcade Fire - Wake Up. A now estranged friend recommended them. I reserved Funeral from the library and was hooked thirty seconds in. This band woke up my ears. Seeing them live was a highlight of my concert going experience. I want them to succeed.
KT Tunstall - The Other Side of the World - It's late 2006 most of 2007 and I'm driving. Hitting this song on repeat, repeat and repeat...
Belle and Sebastian - Dirty Dream Number Two - There's a girl in the car, we're driving up Riverside Drive, and she's dancing in her seat. Beautiful and perfect.