🎵 > Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo. I do believe it, I do believe it’s true.
“Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” is the first Neil Young album I purchased, and marks a lifelong fascination with Neil. I put him in the pantheon that includes Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Lennon/McCartney, and Bruce Springsteen. Sure, he flirted with some oddball stuff in his middle years, but always seemed to come back. Crazy Horse was/is his best band.
This is not my favorite album of his, that’s reserved for “Zuma,” but it’s the one that got me started. Good songs are “Cinnamon Girl” with the one-note guitar solo, “Down By The River,” and “Cowgirl In The Sand.”
I’ve got quite a substantial collection of Neil (and friends) and still listen regularly. 🎵
“Fragile” didn’t quite get me started on so-called progressive rock but it was a huge influence in that direction. “Roundabout” was, of course, a favorite, as well as “South Side of the Sky”. Those two have aged reasonably well, but the album has some real clinkers. “Cans and Brahms” was always dreck.
On the plus side, Jon Anderson’s opaque lyrics should detract from the songs but don’t. Chris Squire’s bass and Steve Howe’s guitar are stellar. Rick Wakeman’s keyboards added a punch that the earlier albums lacked.
I followed this up with several albums by Yes, ELP, King Crimson, and a few others. Unfortunately, there was a huge tendency for these bands to wander into the ether. The earliest stuff is still the best.
“6 and 12 string guitar” by Leo Kottke was a favorite of a few of my friends in college where I first heard it. I didn’t think anyone could play guitar like this. It sounded so massive. However in one sense I was right, he had to change his style significantly due to RSI brought on by the aggressive way of playing he had taught himself. I’ve kept up with him over the years.
If you get a chance to see him in concert, take it. If he’s on his game, it’s worth it.
I even like his singing voice.
1985 was the tricentennial of the births of both Bach and Handel. That summer I spent ten weeks in classes at the IBM Systems Research Institute in mid-town Manhattan.
Ten weeks is a long time to be away from home, family, and my music and books. After about 3 weeks I broke down and bought a Sony Walkman and four cassette tapes: Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites, Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, and a collection of Sousa marches. I would play these on walks through Central Park through tinny little earbuds.
My favorites were the two Bach collections, particularly this one. I loved the fire of this violin. I’ve not been able to find it streaming and may have to go with another artist. Any links/pointers are appreciated.
My love for David Bowie lasted for three albums. “Ziggy Stardust was the first one I bought. The other two were “Hunky Dory” and “Young Americans”. The man changed so fast and so much I could not keep up. Though I would only sample later work here and there, I never lost respect for him as an artist. This album directly influenced much of the stuff I bought later. 🎵
One listen to “Can’t Buy A Thrill” and I was hooked on Steely Dan for the first 6 albums. Every song on this is good. Every song on “Countdown to Ecstacy” is good. Every song on “Pretzel Logic” is good. Every song on “Katy Lied” is … You get the picture. Maybe it’s because they are a cut above in composition. Maybe it’s their sardonic wit. Maybe it’s the incredibly ugly covers. Maybe it’s Donald Fagen’s teeth. I don’t know. I just like them a lot.
“Songs of the American Land” has long been out of print and was never officially issued as a CD. My dad bought this record some time in the early ‘60s. I suspect many of us had it in our homes. I wish I still had it. I guess you would call it “americana” now. I’m not an obsessive collector of traditional tunes but I love hearing versions of these songs from just about anyone.
Salli Terri had a huge discography beginning in the ‘50s as an interpreter of folk songs from both North and South America as well as Europe. See salliterri.org. “Songs of the American Land” has my favorite versions of “Shenandoah,” “Erie Canal,” “Dixie,” “The Lone Prairie,” and “America”. You can listen to this album’s version “America” here: bit.ly/2JXn4xt. It’s too bad that the Vimeo recording doesn’t also include the intro “Geography Lesson” which was all kinds of fun hearing it as a kid.
For some it was “Blue,” for me it was “For the Roses”. The first chords of “Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire” still bring a chill. Favorites also include “Woman of Heart and Mind” and the quirky “Barangrill”. This album, more than any, foreshadows her later work.
Disraeli Gears was the first album I remember buying with money I had earned. It think it was at Penney’s (?) in Westgate in Madison WI. The hook was “Sunshine of Your Love”, but my favorites were “We’re Going Wrong” and “Tales of Brave Ulysses”. Eric Clapton’s fun with the wah-wah pedal shines through.
My good friend, Craig Huegel, accepted a Facebook challenge from his friend, Jeff Klinkenberg: Post just the covers of the 10 albums which have been most influential in your life. Craig has finished his list and passed the challenge to me. This proved to be more difficult (and more fun) than I expected. I had to throw a bunch into “honorable mentions” and I know I will still miss a few. I’ll have to post the honorable mentions at some point.
These albums are starting points. These are all good, some even great. They are in no particular order. Your opinions will undoubtedly vary from mine. 😎
I’m augmenting the Facebook posts on my micro.blog. You’ll see one each day for 10 days along with its rationale. The honorable mentions will follow sporadically.
Whenever I want mellotron death-of-the-universe music there is only one album to turn to: In the Court of the Crimson King. My latest trip to Florida to my parent’s triggered it when I drove past King Crimson Trace in Tarpon Springs.
By the way, that John Gorka concert at Crossings in Zumbrota was great. If you don’t know his music, you should check him out. I love the slightly quirky style of his shows. Crossings was the perfect venue, slightly larger than a house concert. He’s played there many times. You folks in Minnesota should check it out as well.