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My dad’s hi-fi, circa 1973 or ’74

DJO2is tagged me on Facebook for a meme about music – your personal 15, “platters that matter,” and I was all like, Oh, I can do that in my sleep, right? Yeh, um, so, not so much. Turns out that picking out music favorites is even harder than picking out book favorites – because the time reading the books is the time reading the books, but the time spent with a particular album as your life soundtrack could be years – decades, even. And the music colors those moments, and those moments color the music. This exercise was Hard, with a capital H. It took me 3 days to narrow my list, and I’m not sure it’s anything like perfect.

But, here’s my top list today. I reserve to right to change my mind as nostalgia strikes or new stuff is released.

1. Fleetwood Mac – Rumors
I just always come back to this one. Rough day, happy day, protracted project, doesn’t matter, I just keep coming back to it. It may have been one of the first albums I remember my dad playing on the hi-fi. And then it came back to me again in the Clinton era when Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow was a campaign win song. And then it came back to me again five years ago for no particular reason and stayed. While working at Higgins last year, I would start the morning with it while I cleaned the gift shop. It comes on the radio and I fall in love all over again. I can spend the whole record singing along, or just listening to production.

2. Cat Stevens – Buddha and the Chocolate Box
My dad’s hi-fi again. And later with the Harold and Maude Soundstrack. Cat Stevens comes on at the grocery store and I can’t help but sing along. It hits me on a physical level – I immediately calm down when this album is on.

3. Patty Griffin – Living With Ghosts
Favorite to sing along to in the car, like whoa. Also, I have a delicious memory of sitting on the couch in Hilary’s living room with her and Matthew, just soaking it all in together. This album is all kinds of roadtrips across Texas and morning coffee. It inspired me to relearn to play guitar after decades away. One of the sweetest gems in my heart box.

4. Soul Coughing – El Oso
I didn’t know about Soul Coughing until a few years after the band broke up, but when I found out about them, I listened to everything I could get my hands on. This one stayed in the car for years (it may still be there, actually), because, as it turns out, it can calm a driving-triggered* anxiety attack for me.

5. Pixies – Surfer Rosa
You’ve heard me say it before, and I’ll say it again: this album changed my life. Steve gave me a cassette tape in 1989 with Surfer Rosa on one side and something by Sonic Youth on the other. I listened to Surfer Rosa until the tape snapped, and started playing in my first band, of course with Steve. Read the rest of this entry »

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