The Ten Albums Thing
I have always liked music. I have not always liked GOOD music.
So there’s a meme-like post going around asking people to list “10 albums that made a lasting impression on you as a teenager, but only one per band/artist.”
I decided to give this a shot but to be honest. It’s easy to shift and make yourself sound cooler, like you had great musical taste then, and so on. I know I didn’t. Not really. Nope. I didn’t get into Tom Waits until I was 18, for example.
Growing up, my dad played piano and loved Jazz and musicals. I learned to enjoy both these things from a young age. But only one will appear here. For good reason. So anyway here is a list, with details, in no particular order:
1) SPORTS – Huey Lewis and the News: The first cassette I ever got for myself. Back to the Future had come out. I thought they were The Most Amazing Band Ever for a few months. I still enjoy them, mostly from a nostalgia view, really, but I ain’t gonna lie. I still listen to them. This was how I discovered “The rock music I liked.” Yeeeah.
2) …AND JUSTICE FOR ALL – Metallica: There was that moment. A friend in High School assumed I liked Metallica, because he did, and were we not American Teens? or whatever and he kept talking about them and I didn’t want to sound totally out of touch, right, so I got this one and carried it around in my Walkman for weeks listening to it. I am not a metal guy, in general, but some early Metallica, man I dug the crap out of it and though I was so cool for liking them. Did I ever actually like them? Some! I enjoyed a bunch of it. I don’t anymore. But I so did then. They were edgy, they were cool and dark and…at the time that mattered and made me feel cool for a minute.
3) WHITNEY – Whitney Houston: This shit was popular. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”? Man, if you didn’t like that song who even were you? And it opened the doors to me finding gospel music and Aretha and Tina Turner and…this was a seriously important thing for me to listen to. Revealed tons of avenues to be explored over the decades.
4) A CHORUS LINE (the movie) soundtrack: The musical entry! I have loved other musicals but this was the one that I got into as a teen. I just liked the songs a lot. I like many of them far less now. I dunno why I did like them? Maybe they were often talking about sex and hey as a teen then that was edgy and caught attention? I’m not sure. I still like it, in general, but yeah, not nearly as much as I did. And yes the movie not the live Broadway version. That’s me, I know, but what can ya do?
5) LISTEN WITHOUT PREJUDICE – George Michael: I was a fan of Wham! I am still a fan of Wham! unironically. I liked Faith but I didn’t get it past it just kinda being him alone doing more of what he did? But this opened doors of jazz and rock and MUSIC in my head and tied stuff together. I still love this.
6) COSMIC THING – B52’s: Do I still love this quirky thing? I do. I so do. At the time though while it opened me to some fringes of music I hadn’t gotten into at all I bought it because I really liked the Love Shack video and listened to the cassette of the whole thing kinda going “I like some of it and love a bit of it” but kept listening to it. Later I learned to appreciate it, and the band, but at the time, naw it was the cool video so I wanted to like them more than I did at the time.
7) KARATE KID PART II SOUNDTRACK: I can not in any way justify this. But at the time? Man it felt important somehow. I do not know why, looking back. I just know that it was. It really was. Why, brain, why?
8) CHECK YOUR HEAD – Beastie Boys: This is how I got into rap, at the time. There was Run D.M.C. and there were the Beastie Boys, and I was a very white teenager. Hey, I still love both bands, but I remember, at the time, that while this opened big doors it did so because they felt safe AND edgy at the same time. Which is bullshit, but hey, I was a teenager.
9) APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION – Guns ‘n Roses: I have regrets, ok? But again it came down to wanting to feel cool as a teen. It was important! Music that changed your mood, that changed how you saw yourself, those things matter and last.
10) EVERYTHING – The Bangles: Now let me be clear, since the time I first got this I grew to truly enjoy the Bangles, and the Go-Go’s by extension, as great fun bands. AT THE TIME though to be clear, I had a massive teenage crush on Susanna Hoffs. That was it. Now was this important, did it leave a lasting impression? Of course it did. It opened doors, again, to corners of pop I didn’t delve into until after this. Hell it went from this to liking the Go-Go’s to Bananarama (though I never owned one of their releases) to Shakespeare’s Sister which is an incredible band I still enjoy today. I can draw the lines and see why this is important. But really – I just had a crush on Susanna Hoffs at the time.
Now to paint a slightly bigger picture – as a kid I liked whatever my older sister played which was a lot of top 40 radio. I also liked whatever my dad played which was a bunch of jazz and musicals and Wagner’s opera. I didn’t have taste of my own, a sense of what I liked, then. And I grew into it in fits and spurts. Like my enjoyment of Wham! for example. My sister liked them, so I listened to them, too and liked them, and eventually, as above, learned to really dig that strain. But the start wasn’t some deep meaningful thing. It was THERE IN FRONT OF ME.
After High School, and during the later days of it, I started figuring things out for myself. Taking the random grabs of those times and following threads and discovering my own musical taste. Which still changes today thankfully. But these all mattered and were each crucial in that journey, even if I wouldn’t want to listen to probably half of them every again.