Wednesday, May 23, 2012

{special edition} mid-week music moment...

Last night, I turned on a recent episode of All Songs Considered to listen to in my post-Bikram total exhaustion shower. It was called "Can't We All Just Get Along? Our Search For The Albums Everyone Loves." (Listen to it here.)

I listened as I lathered, to selections from Paul Simon to Pink Floyd, De La Soul to Billie Holiday, among others. NPR is holding a summer-long project to settle on 10 albums everyone loves. Quite the challenge, right? I started to think about my favorite albums of all time. The ones I can sing backwards and forwards, and that weren't just a passing teenage obsession (*NSYNC, I'm sorry, but that's you).

Amidst the soap and songs, I had a thought.

Below, you'll find a short list of my favorite albums, ever (not in order). I'm not saying they're universally liked, but maybe somewhere close?  Following the same guidelines as NPR, compilation and soundtrack albums are fair game.

 1. Paul Simon - Graceland
  • This has got to be a universal pick. From beginning to end, this album is flawless. From the storytelling to the melodies, the hooks and guitar, and Paul Simon's one-of-a-kind voice - it's simply perfect.
2. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
  • It started the first time I heard "Never Going Back Again." When that was I can't be sure, but it's remained one of my favorite songs of all time, and the whole album is so emotionally charged, and just, well, wonderful.
3. Frank Sinatra - His Greatest Performances 1953 - 1960
  • My utter devotion to Old Blue Eyes started sometime in high school, and this was the first CD of his I ever purchased, though I soon learned my parents had many of his albums stock piled as well. I used to play this over and over in my room and imagine what it was like to love someone the way Frank sings about the women in those songs.
4. The Rolling Stones - 40 Licks
  • The span of Rolling Stones songs that I am emotionally attached to is sprinkled amongst this expansive compilation. Their music transcends the generations - and from "Wild Horses" and "Beast of Burden" (swoon) to "Emotional Rescue," "She's a Rainbow" and "Miss You" (which was my cell phone ringer for years) its all here.
5. Mariah Carey - Daydream
  • Honestly, this album makes the cut for nostalgia more than anything else, and I still know every word of every song. It's solid though, with some of the best sing-a-longs of all time. Additionally, to say that "Always Be My Baby" didn't change my life in the fifth grade would be totally false.
6. The Beatles - Rubber Soul
  • When I graduated from third grade, my parents bought me my first portable disc player and my first CD: Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. You could say I've been a Beatles fan for a while now. As I grew up and devoured album after album, Rubber Soul has always stuck with me as deeply romantic, sad and absolutely magical. Listen to "In My Life" or "Norwegian Wood" and tell me you feel differently.
7. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
  •  The most recent of my album choices - I just love it, and I know I'm not alone here. It has a major escapist feeling for me, because I first fell in love with it back on the West Coast. It's sound is so distinctly New England (and New York) that when I finally moved here it Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa-ed it's way even further into my heart.
8. Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane
  •  I know some of you might be thinking this is a weird choice, but I still love this album from start to finish (along with the B sides). I also think it represents a group of albums that really defined my teenage years, with John Mayer's Room For Squares, Jack Johnson's On and On and Dave Matthews Band's Crash.
9. Elton John - Greatest Hits
  •  Oh man, I am such a sucker for Elton. That's all I got. I love it all, so, so much. Crocodile Rock? Rocket Man? I don't think I even have to say anything more.
10. Van Morrison - The Best of Van Morrison
  • I completely credit my friend Casey with my introduction to Van Morrison around sophomore year of high school. We used to listen to this album as we cruised around Seattle in her red Jeep Wrangler, singing "Domino" at the top of our lungs as the wind whipped our hair into a frenzy.

First of all, that was really tough (and quite personal). Choosing between classics and contemporary, albums that evoke nostalgia and ones that just can't be denied. I feel like there are so many amazing albums I'm completely obsessed with that I'm leaving out, but I'm taking more of a "desert island" approach: What music could I listen to forever?

So here's what I'm thinking: In the comments below, I invite you to share just one of your favorite albums of all time, and tell me why. Then for the rest of the summer (or as many different albums as are suggested) I'll dedicate the MWMM to one or two of your picks each week (and include your name and your explanation). That is of course unless I hate your choice - so pick something good! (Keep in mind we're talking album from beginning to end, not just one song!)

Sound fun? Alright, have at it! From Bob Marley to Bob Dylan, Adele to Amy Winehouse, I can't wait to see hear what you guys choose!


  1. Silent Alarm was one of the first (and very few) albums that I listened in its entirety - and promptly listened to it again. Every time I listen to it now, I'm transported back to Seattle, to the UW campus, walking to and from class and along the Ave, in my Ugg clogs and toting a sequin tote I picked up on my study abroad. Every time.

  2. I love all of these, especially Graceland and Rumours! I would add Tommy by The Who. As a theater-goer, I hope one day I get to see the rock opera on stage!

  3. Elton John's Greatest Hits was the first CD I ever bought! I was 9 years old. I just love him. Great round up of tunes!

  4. Full Moon Fever, by Tom Petty for sure!

  5. Fiona Apple "Tidal" and Alanis Morissette "Jagged Little Pill." It's a miracle I didn't end up an angsty lesbian.

  6. First, I love your picks Tay, especially Mariah - solid. Here are a few of mine:

    Jason Mraz "Waiting for my Rocket to Come" - I'm only slightly embarrassed to admit that I had an unhealthy obsession with Jason Mraz in high school. It has since passed, but every now and then I get an itch to listen to that album and the memories come flooding back.

    My slightly less conventional picks: Hot Chip "Made in the Dark" and Phoenix "Wolfgang Amadeus."

  7. I stole the "Graceland" cassette tape from my mom at some point and still have it hidden somewhere -- you know, for when cassette tapes make a comeback.

    As for my favorite album, the first that comes to mind is Bon Iver's "Bon Iver." I listened to the entire thing at least 3 times a day when it was first released. Now, I'll always associate it with my first post-college summer and schlepping to and from my new, big-girl job in 100-degree heat.

  8. If soundtracks count, Almost Famous!
    I have been utterly obsessed with this album since the movie's release in 2000. Nothing will ever make me feel happier than these songs, especially when the sun is shining and you can crank down your windows! Doesn't everyone secretly want to travel around the country in the sun for a summer? It invokes tons of awesome images when I listen to it!

  9. If the Almost Famous soundtrack hadn't already been posted, it could have easily been my number 1. However all things considered, I've found that Radiohead's In Rainbows is untouchable. Partly because it's reminiscent of my first love, but also because it is simply great.

  10. Adele- 21 for sure. So emotional and raw

  11. Okay, this might go a long with your thought for Maroon 5--Dashboard Confessional's a Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar. Love every single one of those songs, and really brings me back to high school summers. When life was so "dramatic" but actually totally awesome.

  12. Marc Cohn: Marc Cohn.
    He is incredible. I used to listen to the CD when I was about 7 singing Walking In Memphis at the top of my lungs. My mom later told me that he played "True Companion" at JFK JR's wedding.
    I could take that album anywhere with me and be happy with it forever. He is wonderful.

  13. Great recommendations!
    I would love to add The Dear Hunter's most recent album, "The Color Spectrum." All of their albums are fantastic, but this one just blows me away. It's a collection of 9 EPs based on the color spectrum, so there is truly something for everyone. The lead singer is super crazy talented, and they used a bunch of different recording techniques and instruments to give each EP a unique sound. Check it out here:
    I saw them play all 36 songs live from start to finish in Boston a few weeks ago, seriously life-changing amounts of awesome.

  14. Stornoway: Beachcombers Windowsill - I think you'll really like this... the entire album, start to finish, is a perfect feel good summer playlist! They are an alternative indie folk band from Oxford in England... I've seen them live twice and they're incredible! Have a listen and enjoy! :) x

  15. You know probably know exactly who I am about to put... MICHAEL JACKSON'S GREATEST HITS. PERIOD. And The Very Best of Prince!

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  17. Counting Crows- August and Everything After. There isn't a bad song on the album. Reminds me of driving to HS with my sister and arguing over our favorites. Mr. Jones can cheer me up ANY day.