I'm spinning off Grant's latest rant here. For those of us with shorter memories, how about five records that have changed your life?

I'll start, because that's only fair. I found doing this that the records that fit in the "changed my life" category haven't necessarily been what I would consider the "best" records. At any rate, my list, in no particular order:

Billy Joel - '52nd Street'. The first record I ever really loved. It was released into the world one year after I was and, even though he's a piano player, for some reason he's holding a trumpet on the cover. I've recently started learning his piano parts for all these songs on guitar. Can't get much better than "Honesty is such a lonely word / everyone is so untrue."

Liz Phair - 'Exile in Guyville'. My memory of musical taste starts with Billy Joel, Elton John, and Paul Simon, and then sinks into a very long period of bubble gum pop before emerging with a little more integrity sometime in my teens with this record. I don't at all remember where I found it or who turned me onto it, but it was exactly opposite of everything else I'd been listening to and, by proxy of its sort-of-borrowed title, turned me on to the Stones. It also led me to believe that I could write songs--a delusion I hold to this day.

Ani DiFranco - 'Not a Pretty Girl'. This is not her best record, but it's the first one I heard the summer after I graduated high school. She was saying all the same stuff the Riot Grrls were saying, was playing guitar way better than them, and was doing it all in a much more poetic, thoughtful sort of way. I didn't throw away my Babes in Toyland and L7 records, but I definitely moved on. This is also the record that clued me into the Buffalo music scene, where I wound up living for a few years and where I still believe there is an endless supply great singer-songwriters that nobody will ever hear.

Woody Guthrie - 'The Asch Recordings Vol. 1-4'. Until that point, I never knew "This Land is Your Land" had so many verses and was so ballsy. It had always just been a stand-alone chorus we repeated over and over in grade school. I also hadn't known anything of the man behind that song, much less the fact that he was responsible for hundreds--if not thousands--of other songs that would blow my mind.

Townes Van Zandt - 'No Deeper Blue'. Again, this isn't his best record, but it's the first one I heard and it opened me up to the rest of his catalog, each entry of which has changed different parts of me. My friend Michael Meldrum, who knew what he was talking about and whose opinion I very much respected, insisted I go buy any TVZ record and wear it out. I liked the title of this one, so I spent a white-out winter in my apartment in Buffalo with it on heavy rotation.

...Okay, your turn. What five records have changed your life?

Tags: ani, billy, difranco, guthrie, joel, liz, phair, townes, van, woody, More…zandt, albums, alternative, americana, changed, country, forum, life, music, records, that, your

Views: 3481

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Snap. Not generally a punk fan but love Los Lobos and Arvo Part both. Steve Tibbets "Northern Song" is one of my favorite albums of all time, but I'd call it an unusual tangent rather than "guilty pleasure". (Windham Hill is my guilty pleasure. I've never understood why it's assumed you should dislike George Winston.)

I think the host of Hearts of Space was Steve Deliberto, or something, and when I was in middle school I'd stay up late listening to NPR until that program came on. I cringe at the memory because I'd write terrible poetry by candle light with incense burning, but I still like that music.

And there is nothing wrong with George Winston. As an aside, I think Michael Manring's best bass playing was his work on Windham Hill. :)

It seems Hearts of Space is still going, after almost 40 years, so they are doing something right!

No kidding!!!! Thanks, I'm going to have to figure out where to stream it. Back in the day they were part of The Well, which has gone under, I believe.

Excellent, thank you!

Elton John: Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy... Elton was my introduction to intelligent popular music as a kid. I wore this album out.

Johnny Cash: Ring of Fire... We'd be sent to my Grandparent's house when my parents were fighting. This was the album they put us to sleep to. Cash has been God ever since.

Beatles: White Album... I missed the Beatles first time around. I was too young. This was my introduction to what all the fuss was about. Shifted all my standards about what music could be.

Old 97's: Too Far To Care... This was my introduction to Alt-Country. Not only was it the best thing I'd heard in years, it was so accessible that it convinced me to buy my first guitar and try to do it myself.

Twelve-Gauge Persuaders: Crumble... My band's first album, and the result of the above influences and then some... http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/twelvegaugepersuaders

Old and In the Way- Old and In the Way: This is the album that led me to discover and appreciate bluegrass music. After hearing it, I sought out other albums by Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, The Country Gentlemen, The Seldom Scene-- the list goes on and on.


Patty Griffin-Living With Ghosts: This was her first solo album and it included songs such as "Forgiveness," "Poor Man's House" and "Sweet Lorraine." I remember being stunned by how moved I was by both her voice and her lyrics.


Emmylou Harris: Wrecking Ball: I've been an Emmylou Harris fan since hearing her sing harmony vocals on Gram Parsons' solo albums but this album marked a new direction for her and her voice, the song selection and the production by Daniel Lanois were a revelation.


Bob Dylan- Bob Dylan:  This is the album that made me search out music by Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, The Weavers, Joan Baez, and other key figures in the folk music revival;  it also inspired me to seek out his music ever since.  


Van Morrison- Moondance:  Just because.... Okay, it was what was playing in my dorm room at a memorable moment in my life...

LOVE your choices of Patty Griffin and Emmylou Harris albums ... both spectacular records!

The Band(The Brown Album)    We used to say, back when the album first came out, it's hard to categorize it.....Now we know, it's simply Americana. A rush of lyrical and melodic songs that bring folk, country, gospel, jazz and rock together in a way that was totally unique for its time. They managed to do this while retaining the feel that these songs could've been written 100 years ago.  It completely opened me up to all of the genres it represented. 


The Rolling Stones-Beggar's Banquet:  It roots blues and country to a new level for me. The acoustic, rootsy feel of it paralleled with The Band's first album and Dylan's John Wesley Harding. After seeing them at the 'breakfast show' at the L.A. Forum on Nov.5, 1969, the only album I could find that fairly represented the band I saw that early morning hour was this one. I kept my ear to it. And when I found it's influences I was drawn to Blind Willie Johnson, Jesse Fuller and Robert Johnson, my taste in music was forever altered.


Hank Williams Greatest Hits: My parents bought this MGM release of un-doctored Hank Williams in 1965 after I saw the biopic Your Cheatin' Heart.  I played the hell out of it. I learned the words to every song. Then, as I grew older, I put it away. Until around 1972 when The Last Picture Show came out....I dusted it off and revived my interest in the greatest singer songwriter that ever lived.


Bob Dylan-Blood on the Tracks    Dylan came through on that 1975 album. Prior to that the general consensus was that Dylan was burned out and would never write great songs again.  Then, this album came out in January of 1975. My friends and I would sit listening passing a joint around the room. It was like Dylan came through for us with one of his most vital, imaginative and intimate albums ever...and it was all acoustic. Again, Americana before the name discovered.  It showed me how real, soul-barring and universal songwriting could be.


John Stewart-Willard   Although most fans of the former Kingston Trio singer-songwriter point to California Bloodlines as a pivotal album in country-rock and really in defining Americana, this is the one that engaged me in much the same way The Band and Blood on the Tracks did. It's full of stories, loves songs, meditations on faith, humorous songs..When I listened to it when I was 15, I felt like I was stepping into this unique world...like a really magical book .It's a songwriters dream album with special guests including James Taylor, Carole King, Bill Mumy, Doug Kershaw and session greats, Danny Kotcherman and Russ Kunkl.

Terry , that is a great list and a superb post my friend , brilliant !

PS - Cannons In The Rain is my John Stewart pick , although California Bloodlines and Willard are pretty close behind it.

"Tangled Up in Blue", "Idiot Wind", "You're Going to Make Me Lonesome When You Go" -- both brilliant and totally listenable, sing-alongable -- and absolutely no one wanted to talk about the Country and Western influences throughout "Blood on the Tracks" -- look at the name, fer cripes sake.  

Dylan was moving effortlessly between genres without bothering to announce it or put a name to it.    Just like in dog racing, the scenery only changes for the lead dog and that's Bob.




If you enjoy this site please consider helping us with a small donation!

Don't like PayPal? Mail a check to: No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108

When you shop at Amazon please enter through this search box and No Depression receives a referral fee



Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.