Saturday, August 28, 2010

15 album game

There's this game going around on Facebook - post the 15 albums that will "stay with you." The gimmick is to give yourself no more than 15 minutes and give your first reaction. Then you're supposed to tag 15 of your friends.

And I am just not going to do that 'cause I am a curmudgeon and I don't have to. It's in the Constitution, as I recall.

But the question is rather interesting. So I will post it on my Blog, which will automatically show up as a note on Facebook. But no tagging people.

So close enough.

And since it's my own damned blog and I can set the rules, I am adding some commentary too.

1. Abbey Road, Beatles - The first album I ever owned. The songwriting is gorgeous, the production is rich, and the engineering is nearly unbelievable given the era. Even as a 13 or 14 year old, I knew I was listening to something astounding.

2. Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd - this is a headtrip that will never get old, with some of the finest engineering and arrangement ever. My favorite songs have shifted over the years, but this remains a favorite I cannot shake.

3. Kina, Kina - an honest, emotional, and powerful rock album by a former R&B girl group singer, Kina Kosper. I was riveted from the opening notes of the first song.

4. Stop Making Sense, Talking Heads - a live album that captures a great band at the peak of their power. The movie made me a lifetime fan.

5. Exit ... Stage Left, Rush - again, a live album that captures a band at their absolute pinnacle of power. Rush speaks best to 15 year old boys. And I was 15 when this came out.

6. Life's Rich Pageant, REM. - A great band hits its stride. It touched on folk, rock, and art rock in exactly the right proportions.

7. Autobahn, Kraftwerk - just blew my mind. I was just getting into electronic music in 1984 and I could not believe a bunch of square German boys had done it all 10 years earlier.

8. The Groobees, The Groobees - a super tight large country combo wrapped around the clever songwriting of Susan Gibson. I was hooked from the opening lyric: "Spent half a tank of gas on this conversation; still hasn't got us anywhere."

9. The Flying Lizards, The Flying Lizards - I simply cannot explain this. It's on Youtube.

10. Almost Famous Soundtrack, various artists - a collection of classic 60s and 70s songs, none of which are my favorites, but which together speak to me about my youthful discovery of rock music.

11. Fly, The Dixie Chicks - some really clever songwriting and outstanding production make this mass market country at its finest. And it happens I was on a business trip in Austin when I was listening to it. Driving around the city at night listening to this was perfect in a way I cannot recreate.

12. Cabaret Movie Soundtrack, Various Artists - my parents loved this movie and played the soundtrack incessantly. I love it too. Joel Grey deserved his Oscar as the super-creepy emcee. The soundtrack is funny, sad, touching in turn.

13. The Cars, The Cars - It's like they were singing inside of my head. One of the finest headphones albums ever made.

14. I Often Dream of Trains, Robyn Hitchcock - it was like falling into a dream state to hear "Furry Green Atom Bowl" on the radio my first month of college. I went and got the album and was transported. I will never get tired of this album.

15. Legend, Bob Marley - OK, I am a middle class white boy who went to a preppy college in the late 80s. Sue me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Job I Never Had

In college, I took a job cleaning boilers in the university heating plant. The guy who hired me said I needed to wear steel-toed boots so my feet wouldn't get crushed by heavy equipment. He told me I needed to wear long sleeved shirts, even though it was about 110 degrees in the boiler, so if a steam pipe burst, it wouldn't burn my skin as badly. He told me he hoped I wasn't claustrophobic so I wouldn't panic in tight spaces.

I lost a lot of sleep about this job. So on the first day, I showed up early and sat on the front step and waited for my new boss. He arrived and I mumbled something about"I have to leave town." He looked at me intensely for a minute and I was sure he knew I was lying.

Then he smiled and shook his head knowingly and said "It' s about a girl, innit?"

I smiled as roguishly as I could manage and agreed with him. And took the hell off down the street.