I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Sunday, July 25, 2010

15 Albums From Which A Justin Tiemeyer Can Be Constructed

(In chronological order)

1. Queen - Greatest Hits (1981, 1991)

Queen is the first because I can't remember the name of the Monkees tape we always listened to in my parents' station wagon. I remember being vexed in middle school when this guy named Austin asked me who my favorite band was and I had no answer. Some time later I discovered a passion for Queen, but when I hunted Austin down to tell him Queen is my favorite band he seemed unimpressed, as if he had moved on from that momentary conversation months earlier. Dick...

2. Aerosmith - Nine Lives (1997)

My best friend Jared and I got into Aerosmith fairly heavily because his older brother Paul was really into them. We just ate up anything Aerosmith at a fairly young age, but it wasn't until 1997 that we witnessed the release of brand new Aerosmith material for the first time during our obsession. We listened to Nine Lives day and night, each of us having bought it early on and thus possessing the CD with the naughty pictures all over it. The first time I ever traveled very far from home was with Jared and his family on a trip down to Gulf Shores, Alabama, and we listened to Nine Lives on our Discmans nearly the whole trip.

3. Pink Floyd - The Wall (1979)

When I was in high school I was convinced that I was the youngest person on the planet to both know as much as I did about Pink Floyd and to never have done any sort of drug while exploring the Floyd catalog. I remember listening to The Wall over and over again in my car, explaining the nuances of the album to anyone sitting next to me in my little Honda CRX. You see, it's about the war, but it's also about music, and more than that, it's about one man's struggle with emotional events as expressed by war metaphors in music.

4. Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy (1973)

This one time I went to Vertigo Records with my good friend Elliot Mayo, now world-famous DJ Elijah. I wasn't into looking at the electronic records just yet, but I did enjoy looking for cool Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin t-shirts. When I came across the Houses of the Holy t-shirt, I was faced with a dilemma: on the one hand, this was one of the most important albums I've ever listened to - it had changed me, but on the other hand, it was a t-shirt populated with naked children and I was still in high school. In the end I saved my money. I probably bought some issues of Uncanny X-Men with it. This would have been either during the Onslaught or Operation: Zero Tolerance days.

5. Smashing Pumpkins - Adore (1998)

Any time before my senior year of high school this album would have sounded much too dark for me. But when a girl I thought I was in love with began dating a good friend of mine I found myself really struggling with a kind of darkness that made this album accessible. I've since found several other boys who claim Adore to be their favorite album, and who can cite similar dark periods of life that the album helped them through. I would never again underestimate the healing power of a really sad album.

6. Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way (2002)

Because my brother and I drove around everywhere singing this album together we joined forces and created a band called Craig. We focused mainly on playing classic rock music and writing solid, interesting songs. Because we weren't trying to mimic either Green Day or Blink 182 we were different from all the other bands in the area. When I was kicked out of the band they changed the named to Craig and the Cowboys, which made me conclude that I am the negation of Cowboys.

7. Ryan Adams - Gold (2001)

I don't know what had happened, but I remember driving in my GMC Jimmy and crying while listening to this album. I dried my eyes and met Brian Vandenberg at a coffee shop where we were going to hear our mutual friend Matt play some music. Matt ended up writing a novel in a very Dickensian fashion, so I'm sure he'd be fairly happy to be called "Our Mutual Friend."

8. Zwan - Mary Star of the Sea (2003)

Has Billy Corgan ever sounded as happy, positive and enlightened as he did on this album? Has he ever released a record that comes with fun rainbow guitar stickers that I've found on my old belongings in my parents' basement from time to time? No. And I fear it will never happen again.

9. The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969)

Abbey Road wasn't the first album that flowed from one track to the next. According to Brian Wilson, that was Rubber Soul. According to the rest of the world, Wilson's band The Beach Boys recorded the second real album: Pet Sounds. Abbey Road, however, was the pinnacle of album-making. It never sounded so good until then and it never sounded so good afterward. Let's throw all of that away. The fact of the matter is that I can't imagine that a human could ever fall in love without ever hearing the George Harrisonsong "Something" from this album. That's the more important impact of this album.

10. David Bowie - Young Americans (1975)

Young Americans is by far not the best album put out by David Bowie, but it is the only album I owned on cassette during the lonely year in Toledo in which I couldn't get the car CD player to work. We bonded through struggle much like Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves did in Speed.

11. Neil Young - Harvest (1972)

I listened to this album enough times that I considered writing a book of short stories, one for each track on the album. The ideas were pretty interesting, but I was not very good at finishing things that I started back then. I didn't have any deadlines, so I never got anything done.

12. Prince and the Revolution - Parade (1986)

No need for an anecdote. It's simply the best.

13. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)

Becky, Elliot and I were walking around Manhattan, and I had this melody stuck in my head. It was Radiohead's "Reckoner." I didn't know any of the words. I just kept humming this melody. Suddenly, the sound was coming at me from behind. I looked at the storefronts and none of the stores were open. None of them were pumping Radiohead out of their speakers. None of them even had speakers. I was convinced for some time that Thom Yorke himself was walking several paces behind us singing this song to himself until a car pulled away and the music was gone.

14. Tom Petty - Wildflowers (1994)

You're just a poor boy along way from home
You're just a poor boy a long way from home

15. Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)

I didn't fall in love with Arcade Fire because David Bowie loved them first, but it certainly didn't hurt. But seriously, how cool was it when David Bowie and Arcade Fire performed "Wake Up" together on VH1's Fashion Rocks. I don't know whether I was more excited about that or the Where the Wild Things Are trailer with the same song. Oooh.

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