Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Music : The albums that have meant the most to me

I love music.  Like, LOVE.  I can get lost in a song or, if I am really lucky, an album.  When an album goes beyond just singles that I happen to like, I know I have found a jewel.  It defines a certain time or feeling for me that is so moving that just hearing one of the songs forces me to remember that point in my life. Powerful stuff, right?

So, let's talk genres.  Generally if you ask someone their favorite type of music they will say "pop" or "rap" or "country" or "insert genre here".  If you ask me, you will get a thoughtful look into space before my answering "all".  Seriously, I haven't found a genre out there that I can honestly say that I hate.  Sure, there are songs in each genre that make me want to gouge out my eardrums, but that isn't the genre's fault.  It can't help that some "artists" put out crappy music produce things that I don't happen to care for.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion (and taste), after all.  

That being said, I have compiled a list of the most influential albums in my life.  For better or for worse, they define what I know and love about music.  They are diverse and I love them for that.  

1. Damien Rice - Live at the Union Chapel
When I studied abroad at the University of Oxford during the summer of 2004, this cd was on repeat.  Literally.  I know every note, every breath, every pause of every song.  Something about the intimacy of the sound - the rawness - really captivated me.  Whenever I hear "The Blower's Daughter" or "Delicate", I am transported back to Paris or Dublin, on a bus or train heading to a new and exciting adventure, or sitting in my dorm room at Wadham College recalling my day in my travel journal.  That trip sparked my desire for travel, and this album was the soundtrack of my life abroad.

2. Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes
As a freshman at the University of Alabama, I had a roommate that I had known since high school.  We weren't particularly close prior to going to college, but it helped to know the person you would be sharing a room with.  I learned a lot about her that first year (she's hilarious and brilliant), but one of the greatest was she introducing me to Tori Amos.  I know that sounds silly, but this simple introduction opened a whole new world of music that I hadn't even really known existed. A downside to being the oldest child in the family is not having the benefit of older siblings' knowledge of pop culture and the like. I ended up devouring all of Amos' albums, but this one started the love affair for me.

3.  The Eagles - Hotel California
I got my first car, a 1985 BMW 325i, in 1997 when I was 15 years old.  My parents insisted that I learn how to drive a stick shift so I had to practice driving my car before I turned 16 and was sent out on my own. Of course, cassette tapes were all the rage in a 1985 car that didn't have a cd player so I had to buy cassettes of anything that I wanted to listen to in my ride.  The first that I got was Hotel California, and each time I hear the songs I can remember the smell of that car and the feel of the "bucket seats" and smell of the leather.  I loved that car and thought I was hot stuff.  I definitely was not.

4.  Fiona Apple - Tidal
The next cassette I got for that car was Fiona Apple's 'Tidal'.  When I was feeling extra sassy, I would jam out to every song and stare broodingly out of the windows as if I knew the pain that she sang about.  FYI - I totally had no idea.  Regardless, a brilliant album and a brilliant artist that I love even to this day.

5.  Angelique Kidjo - Black Ivory Soul
As if I didn't have enough of an obsession with music, I was introduced to BMG (R.I.P.) during my senior year of high school.  During that time, it wasn't a huge deal because I didn't have the nagging desire to search for music day in and day out.  However, over the next 10 years, I expanded my cd collection exponentially thanks to the service.  One artist that I discovered during that time was Ms. Kidjo.  She opened up my eyes to world music and put a thirst in me to hear it all.  Note:  I couldn't find this entire album, so this is just one song from the album that I could find.

6.  Pride & Prejudice - Score
Regardless of whether you prefer Mr. Darcy as Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen, you can't argue that the score that Jean-Yves Thibaudet wrote was some of the most breathtaking music written.  Ever.  I guess you could argue it, but you would be wrong. Do yourself a favor and go listen to all of it.  Note:  All videos that contained these songs had disabled the embedding function, so click here to check it out.

7.  Finding Neverland - Score
Like the Pride & Prejudice score, Finding Neverland hit the music out of the ballpark for me.  Jan A. P. Kaczmarek created such a beautiful selection of music - all very level and soft - that Canon, for the last 2.5 years, has actually fallen asleep to it every night and we still haven't gotten tired of hearing it. Note - this isn't the entire album.  Do yourself a favor and go buy it on iTunes today!

8.  Dave Matthews Band - Under the Table and Dreaming
I may or may not get some flack for this one.  Don't care.  I love DMB.  They are crazy talented and produce really quality sound and I love them.  Still.  This is the album that started it all for me.  From here, I got every album they put out and, during college, went to back-to-back concerts every summer, and grew to love artists who really dove into their music head first.  Besides, there is really something to be said for a group that only "advertises" by word of mouth and have one of the best live shows around.  Just sayin'.

9.  Ayo - Joyful
Every once in a while an album comes around that reminds to get outside your comfort zone, so to speak. This album did this for me.  It reminded me to keep searching for more styles of music.  It's a little "world", a little "pop", a little "soul", and a lot of greatness.  It just puts me in a good mood. Note - I couldn't find the entire album to link to, so here's a sample for you.

10.  Bjork - Post
I first took notice of Bjork during a dance recital when one of the teachers did a solo to "It's Oh So Quiet" YEARS ago. Such a fun song, so I had to check out the whole album.  Guys, it is so weird!  That is why I love it.  It is as quirky as her swan dress and it keeps you on your toes.  It is a dream to choreograph dances to as well.

11.  Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head
Seriously, though.  It's Coldplay.  Enough said, right?  Let's just say that I love everything that they do, but this album was the full package for me.  I can listen to it on repeat and be perfectly content.

12.  Jonny Lang - Lie to Me
When I first heard Jonny Lang, I was blown away that this kid had such an amazing and soulful voice.  How is that even possible?  I'm here to tell you, he just keeps getting better.  Let's take it back, though, for posterity's sake. Note - I couldn't find a link to the full album, so here's a taste for you.

13.  Memoirs of a Geisha - Score
Like the scores previously mentioned in this list, Memoirs is an all-around beautiful compilation of music, written by the always amazing John Williams.  This man can do no wrong when it comes to writing music. Not my opinion.  Fact.  That said, he blew it out of the water with this one.  This is my go-to album when I want to completely relax {or when I have a migraine and I need to close my eyes and not focus on the pain}.  True story.  Bonus:  Asian-inspired music is, in my opinion, some of the most soothing and beautiful in the world. Note - I couldn't find the entire album, but you want it.  Trust me.

14.  M.I.A. - Kala
I don't know if it is because I like the beats so much or because it breaks my heart a little when I listen to it, but I love this album. It reminds me that the world isn't always beautiful and lovely and all people aren't intrinsically good.  This album is like one big PSA to me, even though that may or may not have been her intent. Note - I couldn't find a link to the entire album, but this song is sad to me because there are children singing the chorus.  Guys, this kind of stuff actually happens in real life.  Again, I know I am way over-thinking the album, but that is what I do.

15.  Sarah McLachlan - Surfacing
McLachlan's haunting voice and beautiful piano are the catalyst for this addition.  Obviously, Angel remains a huge hit for her - thanks for making me cry during every pet adoption commercial - but that wasn't the only amazing thing about this album.  Every song could stand alone as an amazing work of art, but together the tracks paint this beautiful and complicated canvas that you have to admire at once to gain the full effect.  

16.  The Dresden Dolls - The Dresden Dolls
Confession:  I hadn't heard of these guys until about 4 years ago when one of my dance students insisted I listen.  *For shame* Regardless, I fell in love with the feeling that this whole album projected.  It reminds me of a carnivale and I can't get enough.

17.  Prodigy - The Fat of the Land
Admittedly, I don't listen to this album much anymore, as I am more sensitive to the language that it projects, it definitely helped shape a period of my life.  I was totally alternative {um, yeah...} and thought that this album projected that wholly and completely.  It definitely made me {feel} cool at the time. Note - due to the excessive language, I am not linking this one up, but it is available on youtube.com if you want to check it out.

18.  The Best of the Classics, Vol. 1 - 4
I am sure it is due to my ballet background, but I love classical music.  When I hear it, I want to don my pointe shoes and bourree across the room, but it soothes me still. This collection of music covers many well-known classics like Moonlight Sonata {my very favorite}, and Fur Elise, but also others that may or may not be known to those outside of the classical (ballet, opera, etc) world.  Regardless, they are an amazing addition to any collection.  Note - there was no link to this album at all, so I have graced you with my favorite. Enjoy. 

19.  Michael Jackson - History
You can't have a best of albums for your life and not include MJ.  Sorry, not possible.  Growing up as a dancer, Jackson's music was EVERYWHERE, and this compilation included all of his greatest hits on two discs.  Duh.

20.  John Mayer - Room for Squares
I remember the first time I heard this album.  I was downstairs in my parents' basement, on the phone with a friend of mine {the same one that I always went to the Dave concerts with}.  He played the album for me over the phone and I remembered being in awe of the simplicity of the lyrics.  Yet, I was so amazed that it flowed so well together that I couldn't imagine things said any other way.  This guy just wrote down what he was feeling and then put it to music.  None of that extra fluff was needed.  I was sold.

21.  B.B. King - Deuces Wild
I love artistic duets and anything with B.B. King is amazing, so this should come as no shocker.  This album includes the likes of Willie Nelson, The Rolling Stones, and Eric Clapton performing with THE MAN.  The songs are smooth and full of that BB charm.  This one's a no-brainer.
There are plenty of individual songs that I could name from many other artists, but this rounds out my favorites albums - for now.  I am sure there will be others to come along in the future and I will welcome them with open arms.
Also, if you stayed with me through this entire post, thank you.  I apologize if it was too long.  I get a little carried away when talking music.

Now, who's got suggestions on artists I should check out?


  1. Ok so I was never into cool music, and still hardly listen to much... but movie scores are usually my favourite - I love the one from Finding Neverland, and the soundtrack for Phantom of the Opera got Malcolm through the last stretch of his masters (wearing a phantom mask and a cloak, of course!).

    1. Nice! I think all music is cool music, though, so you can still sit with me at the lunch table. :)

  2. Hi! I'm Jessy, I just found your blog on the Let's Be Friends blog hop! I also am in love with every kind of music! Your taste in music is about as eclectic as mine! And lets face it, you never can go wrong with Eric Clapton or BB King!

    1. Amen! So glad you are here, too! My husband is from Baton Rouge, so I now understand a little of the Cajun aspect too - my last name is now Dupuis ;)

      I hope you enjoy my blog!!!