We have entered the Top 20.

That means I have listened to, and written about, 80 albums to this point.  That's crazy.  I'm surprised I have stuck with it this long.

Not to say I'm an undisciplined kind of guy...I started hot yoga 7 weeks ago, and have been going three days a week.  I wasn't sure if I would like it, because I don't do well with a lot of heat...but I'm loving it.  So that's a mark in the discipline column, right?

But there are so many things I want to do, but don't get around to (i.e. becoming a guitar god, meditating, etc.).  It's easy to focus on how "un-" disciplined I am...It's important to focus on the good is, I guess, what I'm saying.  I'm doing all right.

My dedication to this project speaks to how rewarding it has been for me.  In ways that I don't know if I could write about just yet, I feel like I've learned so much about music.  That's why I want to extend it in to next year.  Of course, I do have to be sure that I leave plenty of room for music creation to live in harmony with all of this music appreciation.

Quick note about the album--it is being produced as we speak.  A barcode has been assigned this afternoon.  The artwork has been printed and glued for Pete's sake.  It's happening.

Also, a friend of mine asked if I was going to include a PDF of the artwork for digital downloads.  I hadn't thought of it beforehand...but have decided that I will do that, maybe even extend the artwork for the digital release.  We'll see soon enough.

20 Michael Jackson - Thriller

020: Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982)

This is the best selling album of all time--selling more than 65M copies so far.

After feeling that Off The Wall wasn't successful enough, Michael was determined to make his next release an undeniable hit--striving to make every song good enough to be a possible single.

I don't think I had ever heard this album before this week.  But 7 of the songs here were released a singles (and became ubiquitous Top 10 hits).  So there were really only two songs that I hadn't heard before--two songs written by Rod Temperton: Baby Be Mine and The Lady In My Life.  These songs would have been, at least, modest hits for anyone else.  They were just eclipsed by the greatness of other songs here.

Michael wrote 4 of those hit songs Wanna Be Startin' Somethin', The Girl Is Mine, Beat It, and Billie Jean.

The only song that stands out to me as not really fitting is The Girl Is Mine.  It just straddles the line of corniness, doggone-it.  I will say that the more I listened to it, and got over myself, the more I liked it.  I especially like the part after the cheesy dialogue (right around 3:20), when Paul comes in with his "I don't believe it..." It sounds like the first part that was aiming for authentic emotion and not just cuteness, just as quickly gone after the fade-out.

With everything that Michael embodied, it's easy to to forget that he had it.  He had the whole package.  All of it.

First you're dazzled by his showmanship and dancing.  He's an amazing singer--not being hyperbolic at all--amazing.  He was a great songwriter--crafting perfect pop gems that could be University courses in and of themselves. We're not even getting into his marketing and showbiz genius.  I was always struck by his generous and humble humanity--coupled with a fierce determination and presence.

He wanted to be the biggest artist on the planet--and he was.  And yet the fairy tale does not have a happy ending.

But we are left with this truly wonderful and timeless music.






19 Van Morrison - Astral Weeks

019: Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (1968)

This is not the best selling album of all time.

In fact, it took 33 years for it to sell 500K albums.  But it sells roughly the same number of records per year now that it did when it came out in '68.  It's a grower, not a shower.

Van Morrison deconstructs song structure, painting images with his lyrics...with few choruses or hooks, and really loose song structure.

I had tried to get into this album about 10 years ago.  I liked it, but never listened to it again.

There is so much beauty here.

And yet, even with my second full attempt, I'm not completely overcome by it.  Perhaps I just haven't been in the right frame of mind for it yet.  I have the same feeling when I try to enjoy most jazz or blues records.  I don't hate it--but something holds me back, and gives me a mild headache.  Perhaps I'm just not smart enough for this.

That must be it.

I really enjoy Sweet Thing and Madame George.  Do I get any credit for that?



I'm going to go get an Aleve now.







Maybe I'm just more into Pop that I was ever able to admit before.  I can imagine sitting around in the office, and thinking I need to hear Thriller right now.  In fact, it happened today.   I put it on, and I felt better instantly.  I'm not sure that Astral Weeks will be the same kind of resource for me.  Clearly it's not trying to be the same animal.  I'm just not sure what kind of animal it is.  Or if I'm allergic to said animals.  I'll try again in 10 years time--with Benadryl just in case.

Up Next

018: Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run (1975) 017: Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)

Want to listen ahead, or see some posts you may have missed? Check out the full list of the 100 Greatest Albums here.