I’m back with more amazing music to run my trap about. Today’s topic: 5 albums that changed my LIFE. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “I thought she was only telling us about music coming out THIS YEAR!” Well, I am – but be a dear and indulge me in this trip down memory lane.
This gorgeous body of mine is made of many things: blood, bone, skin, glitter – but mostly music. Put me under a microscope and you will see these 5 albums entwined in my DNA. As life has ebbed and flowed and tastes evolved, these 5 albums have withstood the test of time and can still be found in regular rotation on my iPod. How’s that for loyalty?!
5. “What’s Inside” – Joan Armatrading
My first introduction to Joan’s music was via the Boys on the Side soundtrack (don’t judge me). One of her earlier tracks was featured – “Willow”. The deep, smooth tone of her voice made me feel like she was singing only to me. I fell instantly in love. I played “Willow” for my Mom and she ended up loving her as much as me. When that Christmas rolled around, I bought “What’s Inside” – Joan’s newest album at the time – as my Mom’s present but as I’d done so often in the past, ended up confiscating it and claiming it for myself. I’ll always think of a harsh, pitch-black Midwestern winter when I hear this album. As a burgeoning musician, I knew I wanted to capture that dark, “nighttime” quality in the work I did…and I continue to, all thanks for Joan.
Stand-out tracks: “In Your Eyes”, “Merchant of Love”, “Shape of a Pony”
4. “Bright Red” – Laurie Anderson
There are two performance artists that my super cool Uncle Clark turned me onto when I was, like, 16 years old: Karen Finley and Laurie Anderson. He loved to freak me out by getting me stoned and putting on Laurie’s hit “O Superman”. At first, the song would scare the shit out of me (you know, drugs) but the more I listened to it, the more my mind expanded. It was the beginning of My Life Outside The Top 40. Around this time, Laurie was putting out her newest album “Bright Red”, which featured Brian Eno and her husband, Lou Reed. It was spooky, cool and otherworldly. I was hooked from the opening line of Track 1 – “Speechless”:
“It was August…summer of ’82.”
There were a lot of real instruments woven between Laurie’s synths and keyboards – and of course, violin work. The drums especially were my favorite…it was so nice to hear her do something without drum machines. I guess we can thank Brian Eno!
Stand-out tracks: “Bright Red”, “The Puppet Motel”, “Speak My Language”, “Poison”
3. “Ingenue” – k.d. lang
I remember seeing k.d. lang on Canadian TV, around the time I was in elementary school. Her crazy kitschy western get-up, butch haircut, thick-framed glasses and voice that sounded like it could take down the walls of an Opera house made a deep impression on me. Fast-forward to 1992 and k.d. lang was set to break into the mainstream with her epic masterpiece “Ingenue”, about her unrequited love for a married woman. When this album came out, so did k.d. and she became the poster child for queers everywhere, especially LESBIANS. k.d. has done many albums since and while she always enters new musical territory and conquers everything she does, nothing matches the utter perfection of this opus. It’s a dark, sensual tour-de-force. It’ll also make you fall in love with the steel guitar and show you how it can be used outside of country music. Do I think she’ll come out with anything to match this? Absolutely.
Stand-out tracks: “Save Me”, “Mind of Love”, “Season of Hollow Soul”, “Constant Craving”
2. “Bella Donna” – Stevie Nicks
Who doesn’t love Stevie Nicks? That’s what I want to know. I fell in love with this white witch as a kid when my Mom would play Fleetwork Mac albums…but no album had the kind of impact on me than her solo debut “Bella Donna”. Sure, I love “Rumors” but I’d toss that in a fire if I had to choose between that and “Bella Donna”. People, I wore this album OUT after stealing it from my Mom’s collection and I’m often heard singing songs from it at a Kareoke bar. Your gurl MURDERS “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”. Shit, I’ll be both Stevie & Tom! I don’t need a partner.
Stand-out tracks: “Bella Donna”, “Kind of Woman”, “Edge of Seventeen”, “After The Glitter Fades”
1. “The Kick Inside” – Kate Bush
My 9th grade math teacher was young, hip and hadn’t been teaching long. One day, she pulled me aside and handed me a cassette tape and said: “I think you’ll like this.” It was Kate Bush’s debut album “The Kick Inside”. I’ve often said that music has changed and saved my life, which people mostly chalk up to me being an overly dramatic queen. I’m not exaggerating when I make this statement and of all the albums that have made their mark on me, this album has made the strongest. The voice. The songs. The production. The other world she created. It became my safe haven during my darkest times and my playground during my happiest. To this day, I wait anxiously for ANYTHING Kate has to put out and I’ve never been disappointed. She is the Alpha & The Omega. Every other artist simply fits between.
Stand-out tracks: “Moving”, “Strange Phenomena”, “Kite”, “Wuthering Heights”, “Them Heavy People”
Has any music ever changed your life? What albums do you still find yourself returning to, years later? Do we have any in common? Let me know! I want to hear from each and every one of you so start yacking!