Reading through my Facebook feed yesterday, I came across this post by Ramona, a friend of mine who is a fantastic writer and who also, evidently, has great taste in music. Reading through her list inspired me to make one of my own, and I have to say I’ve had a little trouble narrowing the list down to just 10 albums, but here are mine, in no particular order:
Nirvana – Nevermind
I first listened to this album in full when I was 14. It quite literally changed my life. I went from your regular J-Lo-loving teenager to a grunge kid overnight. I quickly became obsessed with Nirvana. Did the whole ripped jeans and flannel shirts thing. Bought all the albums and listened to them and nothing but for a year or so. Knew every single lyric off by heart (still do). 15 was a hard year – all those hormones, boy troubles, falling out with friends… but at the end of the day, going home and rocking out to Nirvana made my life a little easier.
Tori Amos – From the Choirgirl Hotel
Rummaging through the bargain bin at my local music shop when I was 17, I came across this album for Lm3 (about €7). Having heard Cornflake Girl on the radio a few times and having been mildly interested, I bought it. Went home, popped it in the CD player and what came next blew my mind. The chord progressions, the piano arrangements, the lyrics, her voice a mixture of sweetness and anguish. Needless to say, this was on repeat until I bought the rest of her discography, then went to my piano and made it my mission to learn to play all of her songs. I’ve watched her live three times now, met her twice. I don’t listen to Tori as much anymore, but I always go back to her when I need to find myself.
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
When I was very, very young, my uncle used to babysit me. Him being very young and it being the late 80s, we used to pass the time by sitting on the carpet in my parents’ living room and listening to his cassettes. Whitesnake. Queen. Roxette. Heart. Pink Floyd. I grew up and went through a brief flirtation with mainstream music, until I met Nirvana, which is when I threw myself back into rock music. One day, at the market in Valletta, I got my hands on a copy of Wish You Were Here.
As the soundscape to Shine on You crazy Diamond unfurled through my headphones, I closed my eyes and lay back on my bed. I saw colours. I saw an entire light show. I listened to the entire album once, twice, three times. Then I put Shine… on repeat. For a week. The silence begins it. Then the slow and constant notes like foundation brushstrokes for a painting of the sea. The bells clink softly in the background like sunlight hitting the waves. The guitar is picked slowly, sadly – a lament, it sings, until it begins its repeated theme: those four notes picked again and again until the song comes crashing over your consciousness like a waterfall. And then… “Remember when we were young…”
Still one of my very favourite songs. By one of the best bands who have ever graced this earth. A masterpiece. During the summer of 2003 I realized it took me exactly 15 minutes to walk to my then-boyfriend’s house. That’s how long the Echoes version of that song is. I listened to it every day on my way to his house and back. That song will always be my youth, my summer. On the brink of adulthood but not quite…
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin
Ah, Zeppelin, my darlings. This album always takes me back to my first year at sixth form. I’d go an hour before lectures so I could do my little ritual of ordering a cheese toastie and a coffee and chain smoking while I listened to Dazed and Confused on repeat. I couldn’t get through the day if I didn’t do that. Zeppelin’s not my favorite band, but they are up there with the best.
Queen – A Kind of Magic
Because what kind of life-changing albums list would this be without a little Queen? I was already a devout follower of Queen before I bought this album, because what rock-freak in their right mind wouldn’t be? But this album was my go-to for the couple of years I spent taking art lessons. Sitting in a room, painting for four hours a week with this album in my CD player. It was a kind of magic (Ha!).
Foo Fighters – One by One
Bought this, together with Hole’s Pretty on the Inside, and the Meat Puppet’s self-titled album in Sirmione, Italy, while I was going through my grunge phase. So I got into the Foo Fighters pretty late on, but I still adore this album. Sure, it’s not technically brilliant; sure the lyrics aren’t poetry (well, some of them are), but this album is always the one I put on when I need to feel a little uplifted while still taking the edge off things. I’ll be fulfilling a long-term wish to watch them play live in a few months and I can’t bloody well wait.
Rufus Wainwright – Poses and Want One
Alright, I’m cheating a little here. These are two albums, but I bought them together and listened to the two of them on shuffle so they’re a little jumbled up in my head. Rufus, to me, is what Chopin’s music would sound like if he were born in the 20th century. Technically complex, virtuoso compositions with melodrama dropping from every word. A little over the top, but perfectly so. Rufus moves me to emotions unique to him. Another guy I’ll be watching live later this year and I’m going to need to stop myself from fainting with excitement when he walks onto the stage.
Radiohead – OK Computer
Does this really need any explanation? One of the best albums ever made. Radiohead at their very peak. I have to moderate my listening because it can get pretty depressive, but it is beautiful nonetheless.
Jeff Buckley – Grace
A relatively recent discovery, I admit. I’d heard OF Jeff, then I eventually got a copy of the album and was won over completely. As much as I love Leonard Cohen, I still think Jeff’s version of Hallelujah is the best out there, and Lover You Should Have Come Over is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful, raw, profound love songs ever written.
The Beatles – White Album
You can’t not include the Beatles in a list like this. Almost every band I love traces their roots and influence back to the Beatles, and listening to this album it’s easy to see why. The Beatles sound easy – they sound simple, but once you get into the nitty gritty of their music you realize they turned simple on its head. Perfect summer Sunday afternoon listening while you read a good book and drink your weight in tea.
Now tell me yours. I’d love to know what you like to listen to and which albums influenced you the most.