Earlier this year, I turned 40.
Don’t cry, it’s not that bad. I’m at the top of my game, in the most creative period of my life, and while the body is starting to give out in some ways, the mind is as sharp as ever.
It’s no secret that I love music, darlings, and so I started thinking about the music that’s been around during my life. Of course, I listen to music from decades before I was born, so unfortunately, I couldn’t include some of the greats on here, like The Beatles, or indeed the best Rolling Stones records, or Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin. None of those great early psychedelic era Jefferson Airplane or Grateful Dead albums.
What I’m about to present are my favourites — albums I actually own, and still listen to. I sometimes had to choose ones that might surprise you, and pass on others that might very well be your favourites — but the truth is, some things hold up and some things don’t, and there are certain genres that I’m just not a fan of.
I started by trying to pick ONE album for the year — but that soon proved impossible. I thought maybe this would just be one post, but instead, I’m going to do 40 of them, starting today. Some years will be longer than others, depending on what came out that year. I’d love for you to share your favourites — nostalgia is fun.
Welcome to 1975, in no particular order..
Bob Dylan – Blood on the tracks
Okay, I’m gonna cheat on this one, because this performance is so amazing, but here’s a clip of Bob performing “Tangled Up in Blue” on the Rolling Thunder Revue Tour, which was actually 1976…. but here you go.
David Bowie – Young Americans
The story goes that John Lennon, on his famous “long weekend” where he left Yoko Ono and just went off and hung out in a house with Bowie, Eric Clapton and a bunch of others, doing drugs and whatever…. that Bowie, excited to meet one of his heroes, showed him what he was doing with Young Americans — basically dabbling in American R&B — and Lennon was unimpressed, declaring that he’d already done that… (Apparently John Lennon could be a bit of an asshole.) Nonetheless, they recorded a cover of Across the Universe and this track, which still sounds amazing today. Bully for you… chilly for me… FAME!
Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti
I remember the day I first heard this — I was about 10 years old, and I was enraptured. I fell in love with this song, as well as Games without Frontiers by Peter Gabriel that day, and I love them both to this day.
Alice Cooper – Welcome to my Nightmare
Some people think this is a cheezy album, but Alice Cooper is all about shtick. Here’s a fun track.
Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night
This is my very favourite Neil Young album. It’s so bleak — written and recorded in the wake of roadie Bruce Berry and guitarist Danny Whitten’s deaths from heroin overdoses, Neil Young shelved it, not wanting to release it. After all, he’d just made Harvest, an album that kind of defined him as a folk-rock god. The story goes he had a party and people asked him what he was working on, and he accidentally put the tapes for Tonight’s the Night on, and then apologized and tried to turn it off — people protested and encouraged him to release it.
Frank Zappa – One Size Fits All
Never actually heard Frank Zappa? Or just heard that he’s really weird? Check this album out — this is a good introduction to his work. A sort of jazz-fusion record at times, lots of good instrumentation, like on Sofa No. 1
Fleetwood Mac – Self Titled
Not the first Fleetwood Mac album I discovered. Like everyone else, it was Rumours, but that made me a fan, and this first album of theirs with Lyndsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks at the core has so many great tracks.
Jethro Tull – Minstrel in the Gallery
Grade Nine — I took music class and chose the flute because of Ian Anderson. I never did learn to play the flute.
Pink Floyd – Wish you were Here
Probably my favourite Pink Floyd album. Here’s the whole of Shine on You Crazy Diamond (love that so much I often sign off letters with it) both the first and the second part.
Supertramp – Crisis What Crisis
When I was about 16 I ‘discovered’ Supertramp, and especially loved the Roger Hodgson songs — I scrawled the lyrics to A Fool’s Overture on my desk numerous times, refusing to let it be scrubbed away. This is an underrated album that I still enjoy.
Brian Eno – Another Green World & Discreet Music
Ah, Brian Eno… one of my loves. Check out Sombre Reptiles from Another Green World, and then his first variation of Pachelbel’s Canon in D from Discreet Music
Paul Simon – Still Crazy After all these years
What a great album this is — and the studio musicians that played on it are amazing!
Neil Young – Zuma
A heard a great story about this track — dunno if it’s true, but it’s a great story. Apparently there are more verses, but while they were recording it, a fuse blew or something in the studio, and by the time the engineer got it fixed, he’d missed a verse. When he told Neil about it, Neil asked which verse, and when the engineer told him, Neil responded by saying “Leave it — I never liked that verse anyway.”
Queen – A Night at the Opera
Will you do the fandango?
Patti Smith – Horses
Patti Smith personified “I don’t give a fuck”.