I tried to resist, Betty, I really did. But how could I pass up an assignment like this? Here they are, for your delectation:
1. A Hard Day’s Night /The Beatles – my first album ever, from the band that sealed my fate as a rock & roll fan. The red cover is falling apart by now, mended clumsily with masking tape; those black-and-white head shots are suspiciously smudged, especially the one of Paul, the great love of my pre-teen life. I know the
2. Bookends / Simon & Garfunkel – Poetry, social commentary, and Existentialism Lite – just what I needed in the spring of 1968 (meanwhile over in the
3. The White Album / The Beatles – Christmas vacation, 1968. I had begun to think I had outgrown the Beatles. I was wrong. I may have outgrown my teenybopper crush on Paul, but this was something Much More Important. (Not that I haven't since dog-eared the head shot of Paul that was included inside that radical bare white cover.) My copy isn’t so white anymore, and side 4 is a scratched to hell from being played backwards during the Paul Is Dead uproar. But who needs to play it anymore? I’ve got the entire thing hard-wired in my brain.
4. McCartney – That bowl of cherries, the photo of bearded Paul with his baby inside his parka – I was in heaven. There WAS life after the Beatles! FYI, he wrote "Maybe I'm Amazed" for me, too. He just thought he'd written it for Linda.
5. Tapestry / Carole King // Sweet Baby James / James Taylor – Forever yoked in my heart. I saw Carole and James perform spring 1971 at the Indianapolis Coliseum, confirming my conviction that I was the hippest 17-year-old in Indy. (The rest of the audience were just extras in my head-movie.) The next fall I got to college and discovered that every freshman in my dorm owned both records. I had finally found my people.
6. Everybody’s in Show Biz / The Kinks – it arrived one day in my slush pile of records to review for the college newspaper. “Hmm, the Kinks – they’re still around?” One listen and I knew I had found my band for life. I went out the next day and bought every Kinks album available in
7. O Lucky Man! / Alan Price – Summer of 1973, my first trip to
8. This Year’s Model / Elvis Costello – my first few months in
9. More Songs About Buildings and Food / Talking Heads // The B-52s – The apogee of my New Wave mania: seeing these two bands on a double bill at SummerStage in
10. Get Happy! / Elvis Costello – My cubicle neighbor at work, Susan, was my music soul mate in 1979; we went out at lunchtime to buy this album at Sam Goody’s the day it hit the bins. Those savage R&B-drenched tracks, flung out feverishly one after another (20 tracks on one LP, nearly all of them under ) – it was too good to be true. The critics panned it, but we knew better. My fave EC ever.
11. Artist’s Choice: Elvis Costello – fast forward to March 2005. I’m in a Starbucks in
12. The Convincer / Nick Lowe – It’s the only Nick Lowe I could find in the record store in
13. Other People’s Lives / Ray Davies – next step in my Music Renaissance; re-connecting with the Kinks. I see a TV documentary about Ray Davies and go on-line for info about the Kinks (who have been dormant for 10 years). Six months later, I’m standing for hours in the chill November rain with my new Kinks fan club friends, waiting to see Ray preview his first solo album. It’s a masterpiece.
14. Bring the Family / John Hiatt – I learn that Nick Lowe was in a band called Little Village with John Hiatt. Johnny Hiatt? The fat kid who went to the Catholic school across the street from mine in
15. Ole Tarantula / Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3 -- On impulse, I go with my Kinks buddy Dave to see these guys play at the Knitting Factory. I haven’t heard a single song of Hitchcock’s and know nothing about him. He rambles out on stage, tosses his gray mane, and starts to free-associate on stage. I am simply gobsmacked. Might as well stand and face it -- the fangirl is back with a vengeance.