My top twenty albums
These are not the 20 albums I like the best. They may not even be the albums that most influenced my musical tastes. They are 20 albums that mean something to me. I have left a lot of early stuff out.
I am not good at remembering years. I am attempting to put this in some sort of chronological order, but I am not sure if it will be 100 percent correct.
So we start in high school. I was a Plattsburgh High School Hornet and everybody was listening to Elton John and “Stairway to Heaven” was the last song of every school dance. When I got home I listened to music that others did not.
1. Todd Rundgren – “Runt”
I probably should have picked “Something Anything” it is a better more complete album. I found Runt long after I found Rundgren. It was in a cutout bin at a department store. I don’t think it cost more than 2 bucks. It is notable because it is all Todd. He is every voice and plays every instrument. This was in the days when that wasn’t easy. It’s an amazing feat when you think about it. In college I traded my copy of “Something, Anything,” to a girl for a copy of Steely Dan’s “Pretzel Logic.”
2. Steely Dan – “Countdown to Ecstasy”
I guess the above entry indicates I should have chosen “Pretzel Logic.” I chose “Countdown to Ecstasy” because of two songs – “Bodhisattva” and “My Old School.” The first song will, to this day, hypnotize me and the second song conjures up a memory of unbridled joy. I happily and distinctively recall my sister Ellen, my buddy Tony Vavra and me playing air band to this song, over and over and over on the third floor of my parent’s U.S Oval house in Plattsburgh, N.Y.
3. Joe Jackson – “Beat Crazy”
Back in the pre-Internet days it took a little work to follow your favorite artists, especially if your faves were not the faves of everybody else. I always knew what Joe Jackson was up to and I always knew when his next release was going to be. “Look Sharp” and “I’m the Man” cemented me as a fan, but “Beat Crazy” floored me. I remember trying to explain it to a girlfriend, “It’s like reggae for punks,” She didn’t get it. “Listen,” I said, “There’s nothing nice and nothing hopeful. It’s all anger. It’s punk!”
4. Neil Young – “Tonight’s the Night”
I knew that Young and Steven Stills played together in Buffalo Springfield, but I could never understand his association with the group Crosby, Stills and Nash. Those guys sang those pretty harmonies and Neil Young sounded like, well ..Neil Young. He certainly wasn’t a singer like those guys, I thought at the time. Then one night I was in the listening room in the library at Oswego State University. I picked this album out of the stacks, put on the headphones and dropped the needle. I had a musical epiphany. Crosby, Still and Nash might sing harmonies, but none of them, alone or collectively could sing a lick next to Neil Young. On “Tonight’s the Night” Young opens up a vein and bled his songs on the studio floor.
Here's the wordle this drivel produced: