i nailed down (about) fifteen last march

5 December 2009

I originally wrote this on the fifteenth of March. 

For the last few days I’ve been playing around with a meme that has been travelling around the blogworld, but it’s a “truth or false” one and I’m a terrible liar and everyone would guess my answers right off and I kept thinking, what’s the fun in that? 

Anyway, during the Project of the Books, I got to listening to some old favourite songs, because sometimes a book will remind one of a song, or a time or a writer will remind one of a period or a band…or

So, in honour of the songs that are playing lately in my house, here’s my “15 Albums” list.  When I originally wrote it, I listed out the albums in one afternoon based on my cousin Pati’s challenge.  A week or two later I revisited it, and the list stood.  So I justified annotated it. 

Can you do a list?  More importantly, what are the stories that linger around your list?

1. The Band, Music from Big Pink (Alternate, The Band) My ex husband and I had a Band record, Greatest Hits. It was always a favourite of ours and of anyone who happened to be in our home when we played it. Several years before that, when I was about 15, I went to visit Lynn and friends in Windsor, and it was the first and only time I ever hitchhiked in my life. The day was not only notable for the hitchhiking thing. We hitchhiked to see The Last Waltz which was playing at the Central Theatre (which, years later, turned out to be a block away from where my kids grew up, but was no longer a movie theatre then.) I remember being blown away by all the musicians. Strong in my memory are Neil Young and Bob Dylan. Obviously they all stayed with me. Starting with a record when Terry and I were young.

2. Bob Dylan/The Band, The Basement Tapes (Alternate: Before the Flood). Later in life when my appreciation for these people came through long listening. I love the Basement Tapes for what they are: raw, experimental, rooted in folk (i.e. history). I love Before the Flood because I love live music. Few bands did it better live than the Band.

3. Mermaid Avenue One and Two (It’s not cheating, it’s one project. One beautiful gorgeous project.) I heart these records. I’ve had a fascination with Woody Guthrie for years. I heard Billy Bragg as a guest on an afternoon CBC radio show promoting this project in the late 1990s, and was instantly blown away, from the first song he introduced (Walt Whitman’s Niece). Everyone I’ve ever played it for has had the same instantaneous reaction.

4. Blue Rodeo, Five Days in July. It’s a work of magic; five days of artistic chemistry. I didn’t want to like it at first. “Too country!” said I! But it’s raw, dirty, gorgeous rockin country. This band is so TOGETHER. I’d like to hang around with them. Kelsey met Jim Cuddy at Pearson airport once. As they were getting a picture taken together, she told him she grew up with him in her household. I’m sure he’s heard that a few times.

5. Alice Cooper, Welcome to my Nightmare This album represents a turning point in my life. When I got to high school. When I started to like myself, and music of my own. As a grown up, the horn section on the title song still turns my crank. Turn it up!

6. Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Live at Luther College Jane found this in a bargain bin, and she loved it so much, and so instantly, she bought me a copy. What a treasure. It turned me on to Dave Matthews, and became one of the most played discs in our house. It’s him stripping down his songs and making you listen from the inside out. The thing about the Dave Matthews Band is THE BAND. Sometimes when you have a band that good, the songs can be overlooked. This album lets you appreciate the songs. And Reynolds is a dreamy guitarist.

7. Pete Townsend, Deep End Live. Another bargain bin treasure. Live music is ALWAYS best. Pete is best live, better than most. He’s electric. He gets me down to the bottom of my soul and all the other parts. He and the Who put to shame any band that couldn’t play a live show. They could take a piddly little place like the Pontiac Silverdome and liftt it off into space. Most young punks and rockers alike would not exist had not Pete waved his windmill arm. Oh yeah, and this is really gorgeous too. “After the Fire” (which he wrote for Roger Daltry to sing) blows the Who’s version right outa the water. Passion squared. This is why I love Pete. “I’m cryin’ and I’m chokin’. I’ve got to stop drinkin’, I’ve got to stop thinkin,’ I’ve got to stop smokin.'”

8. World Party, Goodbye Jumbo. Really, the entire WP collection. I could pick any one record out of this repertoire and hold it up to the last. Wallinger is beautiful, smart and rockin. Goodbye Jumbo recalls a happy period out on the farm though.

9. Waterboys, Fisherman’s Blues. Mike Scott is my main man. His subsequent records have never stood up to this gorgeous, inspired work, but I will always love him for making this one. And I will always see him live whenever possible. He believes in magic, and so do I.

10. The Who, Quadrophenia. I love you Robbie D. (And the Who.) Beautiful noise. Turn it up! (As my sister said once, “did you ever hear a drummer who can play music instead of beat?” A lot of drummers don’t like Keith Moon. It’s because he was an original; it’s not what they were taught.

11. Lou Reed, New York. This album continues to knock me off kilter each time I hear it. I might only play it once a year, but it represents one of my first appreciations of really smart, biting cultural criticism. It was the 80s; culture needed some criticism then.

12. REM, Automatic for the People. (Weird, Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight is playing on random playback right now. The most beautiful song of the record as far as I’m concerned.) Lots of people don’t like this one because it’s “REM doing mainstream”. But it’s smart, gorgeous mainstream. This record reminds me of my girls, and living on Moy ave.

13. Rheostatics, Melville. My sister tried to turn me on to the Rheos for ages. When I finally did get turned on to them (like fine wine) I bought all of their CDs in the space of about six months. This is my favourite. The Rheos are the quintessential Canadian band. Everything they write is about being Canadian. The singers are original and distinctive. The lyrics are way smarter than anything that came before and after. My favourite Canada Day celebration was seeing them at Toronto’s Harbourfront with Cathy for free. I heart them. And us. Canadians rule.

14. Neil Young, Decade. Early adulthood. Terry had this triple album, which got ruined at a party. It was replaced. Then replaced on CD. Then replaced post-divorce. Terry gave me some great music. This was the most significant bunch.

15. Van Morrison, No Guru, No Method, No Teacher. Van the poet. He’s at his best when he is accessing his spiritual centre. Which inspires me to access mine. In the Garden is a defining song for moi. Yeah and he rocks. His first, Astral Weeks, ranks very close to this.

I have to write a sixteen, because now that I wrote them down, I can’t erase one!

16. Spirit, Best Of. I can’t leave this one out!  Tip of hat to my ex husband. Oh gawd, given that how could I leave off Rolling Stones’ Hot Rocks One and Two?  Both rock out!   That’s it! Do you need another reason?

I’d love to know your list.

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3 Responses to “i nailed down (about) fifteen last march”

  1. Reluctant Blogger Says:

    Oh so hard. I’m not sure. I probably could but it would take me a while if it were to be one that stood the test of time.

    Funny about REM. I”m never sure if I like REM or not but a couple of the tracks from that album “do it” for me too – remind me of things in a way nothing else does. Strange.

    I shall give it some thought. But don’t hold your breath – it’ll probably be next March before it is finished.

  2. Reluctant Blogger Says:

    haha yes you are probably right. Perhaps I will do that next time I am stuck at the pool. It beats watching swim training!


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