In no particular order, here are five albums that stand out from what might be called by some my “formative years.”
- Don McLean: American Pie
Sure, we all know the song. Some people I know even loathe it. Chevys, levees, music dying, blah blah blah. Despite my apparent disdain I actually like the title track a fair amount but the rest of the album should be given its day in the sun as well. In particular, the track Vincent, McLean’s tribute to Van Gogh, lives in the happy place in my heart. After I purchased the latest solo album by Robbie Schaefer of Eddie From Ohio fame I was pleasantly stunned to find that Robbie had given us a fantastic and soulful cover of McLean’s Vincent. It was listening to this track the other day that got me thinking about other albums I used to know in my childhood. Unfortunately, American Pie hasn’t found its way into my current collection of music. I’m sure it will eventually. Most everything else seems to.
- John Denver’s Greatest Hits
Yeah, so I used to listen to a country album. Used to listen to it a whooooole lot. And ya know what? I like it, too. Wanna make something of it? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Wuss.
- The Beatles: Abbey Road
Not just Abbey Road. Sgt. Pepper’s and Magical Mystery Tour were also key players of the time. But Abbey Road is the one which really sticks out in my mind. There’s just something about songs about octopus’ gardens and smacking other people with silver hammers that really appeals to kids, I guess. And, of course, there’s always Her Majesty. She’s a pretty nice girl. And one day? One day I’m going to make her mine. (no, not really)
- Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention: Freak Out!
Oh, please. Don’t go calling child protective services just because my parents let their children listen to Zappa. It’s just music for goodness sake. And it’s not like any of us could make out let alone understand anything that was being said on that album. I mostly liked the really weird colors on the album cover. No Disney album ever looked like that, I tell ya. Somewhere along the line this record disappeared and to this day I’ve no idea where it went. My suspicion has always been that my brother secreted it away to a friend’s house or something and it was stranded there with unappreciative ears. Or maybe there’s something to that child protective services thing after all and the album was confiscated by the authorities. Who knows?
- Christmas With The Chipmunks
Singing now: “One of these things is not like the others…” Yup, the good ol’ American classic. There were a number of albums which could have been slid into the fifth slot here, but for some reason this one made the cut. I mean, who can’t remember a happy childhood Christmas with those charming little rodents lisping their way through their rendition of Mel Torme’s “The Christmas Song?” And, really, at one point all any of us really wanted was our two front teeth. Heck, I still listen to this one every year. It’s a Christmas tradition that doesn’t involve gaining weight, spending money or losing your luggage. What’s not to love?
So there’s the five. Like I said, it could have been more. But this is the 2K millennium and attention spans are getting shorter by the day, so five is all you get.