Comment

WXNA's Soul of the City

It's been almost a year since my last post here...but it has been anything but an inactive year.

I've now been in Nashville just over a year, and couldn't be happier with the move, and my new city.

I'm now hosting a podcast called The Hexagon: A Podcast for Singer-Songwriters.  It's a podcast about six aspects of being a singer-songwriter (Life; Songwriting; Performing; Recording; Business; and Growth).  I'm working on episode 5 now (to be released by mid-July).  Check it out in iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play--or you can go to hexagonpodcast.com.

I've also been featured on Nashville's new free-form radio station WXNA three times over the past three weeks.  A great neo-soul show called "Soul of the City" has featured three songs so far: "So Well Loved"; "All You Ever Needed"; and "Another Side".  If you haven't already checked this station out, and particularly this show...go to wxnafm.org or listen to 101.5 FM in the greater Nashville area.  "Soul of the City" is on Thursdays between 4-6PM CST.

Lastly, I've been writing more than ever before...so I should have plenty of new stuff to share soon.  Being around so many fellow writers has certainly inspired a new era in my creative life.

Thank you for your interest and support.  

I will be playing a show at Mad Donna's in East Nashville in August.  Check the Shows page for more details.

Comment

Comment

Big Changes

I've been meaning to get back to my 100 Greatest Albums blog, but have found it a bit difficult to devote the same passion and effort toward it.

You see, there have been a lot of changes in my life in the past couple of months--Big Changes.

I decided to move to Nashville, having visited Music City only twice before.  This meant packing everything up...a pretty significant cross-country move...and then an intense job search.  Layer onto that, I'm looking to buy a home for the first time in my life.  

On my birthday this year, after being in Nashville for less than a month, I got a job offer (which I later accepted) and had our offer on a home in East Nashville accepted.  Also, I'm starting a Master's Program in Data Analytics at Boston University in September.  

All that to say my mind has been compressed with a new kind of stress.  Don't get me wrong--it's a good and welcome stress--new things for which I am grateful!  

I just got to the point today where I realized that I need to give myself some time to focus on getting those things started right...and once I do, there will be space for continuing the blog project, and--even more importantly--working on new songs.

I plan to kick the blog off again in early October.  

New songs?  They're coming.  I'll post as soon as there's something interesting to share.

Comment

Comment

Down Time

It's been over a month since my last post here--and I can feel this awkwardness between us. We shouldn't let this much time pass between meetings.

I missed you.

In the beginning of February, I took a break from the Greatest Albums Project because I really wanted to try a Song-A-Day challenge for the month of February (more on that below).  I had also gotten it in my mind that it would be a good idea to take two Coursera courses at the same time--while also taking a grad-level Audio class at The New School.

It's strange that once my album was released--it left a void.

I knew I could either fill it with self-promotion--which is clearly not my bag.  Or I could try to keep on creating--which is what I opted for.  Relaxing was not an option.  This will all take on more (crazed) gravity when I can finally share another HUGE life change...but, alas, that will be a bit further down the road.

Song-A-Day Challenge

I have really been into podcasts again lately.  One podcast I can't speak highly enough about is the Sodajerker (on Songwriting) podcast.  These two Brits (Simon Barber and Brian O'Connor) host the monthly podcast where they interview some major songwriters from a wide array of genres and time periods.  Simon and Brian are witty and, as songwriters themselves, guide the conversations through many aspects of interest to those of us trying to learn from our predecessors and giants in the industry.  Some recent guests have been KT TunstallAdam Schlesinger (of Fountains of Wayne), Suzanne Vega, Ron Sexsmith, and Dan Wilson.

sodajerker_on_songwriting_banner

The Dan Wilson episode really inspired me to give the song-a-day challenge a try (after having avoided it fiercely up until now).  Every time I'd heard about it, it seemed so beyond my capabilities.  I considered myself the type of songwriter that stumbles upon a chord progression that I find interesting, then find a melody that holds my interest, then lyrics take shape from the harmony and melody--a painstaking process that TAKES TIME.

Dan Wilson mentioned something about how in his song-a-day months, the act of writing every day eventually gets his mind in the right frame so that song ideas become more of a daily occurrence--a constant throughout the day because that's the headspace you're creating.  He also mentioned something about returning to a song fragment he had come up with during a challenge...

A song FRAGMENT!!

Wait--I don't have to write complete and wonderful songs every day for a month?

I can just sketch and see what happens and get out of my own way?

So, from that I was open to the idea...and then I came upon an article in American Songwriter magazine that lists part of the chord progressions for some of the most influential songs of the past several decades (from many genres).  In light of the recent Blurred Lines controversy, let me clarify that chord progressions are not copyright protected.

From there, I had my new project:

  1. I would take the fragment of a chord progression and use that as a basis for a new song IDEA every day--making sure the new song was unrecognizable based on the old.
  2. I would come up with 3 sections of that new song each day (i.e. a verse, a pre-chorus, and a chorus).
  3. I would record a demo of the song as it was happening, with no regard for perfect performances.  I used Logic Pro X's virtual drummer to give me a guide rhythm track, randomly selecting a tempo and time signature.

I had trouble on the first day, because I was still trying to write complete lyrics--and found my perfectionist self spoiling all the fun.  So after a frustrating start, I tweaked the rules a bit more to say that words were unimportant for this phase of the project.  If I found a melody that I liked, I would sing it with whatever nonsensical words came to mind as long as they fit the melody.

My goal was then to get 30 song ideas down that I could then pull from and develop more.

I tried not to listen to previous day's work during the month (but that was hard to do).

There were a couple of days where I didn't get to it--and a week in the middle of the month where we went to Nashville.  I was flexible with myself, and just extended the project into March and made up the days at the end.

Tonight, I listened back to all 30 ideas, rating them in iTunes so that I know which ones are stinkers--and which ones are worth revisiting and fleshing out.  Here's how they break down:

  • Five Stars: 3 ideas
  • Four Stars: 11 ideas
  • Three Stars: 9 ideas
  • Two Stars: 6 ideas (that didn't take flight)
  • One Star: 1 turd

That means I now have at least 14 ideas that I think I want to spend more time with.  From that, I can probably walk away with 5 solid songs (being very realistic/conservative).

I wrote one song last year.  One.  Granted it is one of the songs I'm most proud of ever writing ("Already")...but still.  One song.

So the potential of 5 or more new songs before we're even to Spring.

Yeah.  I'm loving the project, and will definitely be returning to it.  I'm thinking of doing it every other month.

We'll see.

Coursera

I mentioned that I also took two online courses (for free) from Coursera.  If you haven't checked this site out yet--do yourself a favor and do it.  It provides free courses from accredited colleges and Universities around the world.  The courses span any topic you can think of.  The delivery of the content varies by the host school--but the two courses I took (both from Berklee, my alma mater) had really high production value.

I took the Songwriting course from Pat Pattison, and an Intro to Music Production course.  I liked the latter course so much, that I dropped the similar course I was taking from The New School.

Take that in.

I dropped a course I was paying several thousand for because I preferred the course I was paying zero dollars for.

Zero dollars.

Zero additional student loan debt.

Your next question might be--why would someone who has been writing songs for more than 20 years -- and someone who just recorded and produced his own album need to take these courses?

I believe there is always more to learn...and I'm obsessed with filling those gaps.  I once heard Javier Bardem do an interview where he stressed the importance of continuing education.  Even though he has won so much critical acclaim as an actor, he still takes weekly private lessons because he knows you never know enough to stop.  His respect for his craft really instilled that for me.

I loved both of these Coursera courses--and cannot recommend them highly enough.  I had taken the songwriting course from Pat Pattison while I was at Berklee--and dropped it because I didn't get his deal.  A couple years back, I started to read both of his books--and saw improvements because of them, yet still, somehow, didn't finish the books.  I now see that he is a genius--and that I was an idiot to not see it then.  His method is somewhat complicated--and is certainly focused mostly on lyrics...but I've seen the light.

Genius.

The music production course is a solid primer for anyone interested in recording and music production.  It definitely filled in some gaps for me.

 

100 Greatest Albums Project

I will be starting the blog project back up next week.  I really needed a breather--but also really missed having my listening assignments plotted out in advance.

Next up: Lou Reed's Transformer; and The Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy.

Comment

Comment

365 Soul

Look ma, I'm on the [internet] radio! Last week, I received an email from one Simon Darke.  As it turns out, he's a DJ in the UK who hosts a weekly internet radio show featuring independent soul artists.  He informed me that he'd selected the opening track of my new album for his next show.  Not really knowing what to make of this contact from beyond, I told him how flattered I was and excited to be on the show.

As a musician, I often get emails promising this or that (often scams)...so I had cause to be cautious.

He told me that he'd be live blogging the show on Facebook during the show--and encouraged me to join and be part of the conversation.

I started the live stream of Simon's radio show called "It's All Soul To Me" on 365soul.com (which plays each week at 11am-1pm EST).  I was impressed with the caliber of the music he'd selected, and felt an instant sense of community.  I logged into Facebook and saw that he really did have a bunch of fans discussing the songs as they came up--just for the love of the music.  They were so supportive of me when my song came up...which I tried my best to take in.

Check out the show below for some great music.  "All You Ever Needed" from my new album "Held Momentarily" comes in at about 38:54.  I just realized that Simon takes out his spoken interludes on the SoundCloud version of the show--which is a shame because he said some really nice things about me, in his thick London accent.  He described the album as an eclectic mix of R&B and jazzy flavored tracks.

It was a really intoxicating way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  Thank you, Simon!

 

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/190114447" params="color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

Comment

Comment

100 Greatest Albums Project Continued (2015)

In 2014, I listened to (and wrote about) Rolling Stone's Top 100 Albums of All Time.  Early in that project, I discovered the Acclaimed Music list (which is widely revered as the list).  Once I started comparing the lists, I saw how many albums on the Acclaimed list that I hadn't covered from the Rolling Stone list.  In the first half of 2015, I will cover those additional albums.  In the second half, I will cover the Top 50 Singer-Songwriter Albums (list here).

100: Pixies - Surfer Rosa (1988)

099: Frank Ocean - Channel Orange (2012)

098: Kraftwerk - Trans-Europa Express/Trans Europe Express (1977)

097: Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

096: John Lennon - Imagine (1971)

095: AC/DC - Back in Black (1980)

094: Iggy and The Stooges - Raw Power (1973)

093: The Stooges - Fun House (1970)

092: Van Morrison - Moondance (1970)

091: Miles Davis - Bitches Brew (1970)

090: David Bowie - Low (1977)

089: Primal Scream - Screamadelica (1991)

088: Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967)

087: Lou Reed - Transformer (1972)

086: The Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy (1985)

085: Oasis - (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (1995)

084: Sufjan Stevens - Illinois (2005)

083: The Band - Music from Big Pink (1968)

082: U2 - Achtung Baby (1991)

081: Elvis Costello - This Year's Model (1978)

080: Radiohead - The Bends (1995)

079: The White Stripes - Elephant (2003)

078: DJ Shadow - Endtroducing..... (1996)

077: Derek and The Dominos - Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)

076: Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home (1965)

075: De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)

074: Paul Simon - Graceland (1986)

073: Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II (1969)

072: John Coltrane - A Love Supreme (1965)

071: Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

070: Carole King - Tapestry (1971)

069: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band - John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)

068: Portishead - Dummy (1994)

067: Otis Redding - Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul (1965)

066: Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures (1979)

065: Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation (1988)

064: My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991)

063: David Bowie - Hunky Dory (1971)

062: R.E.M. - Murmur (1983)

061: Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction (1987)

060: Jeff Buckley - Grace (1994)

059: Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica (1969)

058: Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977)

057: The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses (1989)

056: Beck - Odelay (1996)

055: The Clash - The Clash (1977)

054: Pixies - Doolittle (1989)

053: Sly and the Family Stone - There's a Riot Goin' On (1971)

052: Love - Forever Changes (1967)

051: R.E.M. - Automatic for the People (1992)

050: Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

049: Joni Mitchell - Blue (1971)

048: Neil Young - After the Gold Rush (1970)

047: The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers (1971)

046: Stevie Wonder - Innervisions (1973)

045: James Brown - 'Live' at the Apollo (1963)

044: Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (1959)

043: Prince and The Revolution - Purple Rain (1984)

042: The Band - The Band (1969)

041: The Strokes - Is This It (2001)

040: Joy Division - Closer (1980)

039: U2 - The Joshua Tree (1987)

038: Ramones - Ramones (1976)

037: Massive Attack - Blue Lines (1991)

036: Radiohead - Kid A (2000)

035: The Who - Who's Next (1971)

034: Talking Heads - Remain in Light (1980)

033: The Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed (1969)

032: Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)

031: Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

030: Prince - Sign 'O' the Times (1987)

029: The Beatles - Rubber Soul (1965)

028: The Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet (1968)

027: The Doors - The Doors (1967)

026: Michael Jackson - Thriller (1982)

025: The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead (1986)

024: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland (1968)

023: Television - Marquee Moon (1977)

022: Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

021: Patti Smith - Horses (1975)

020: Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks (1975)

019: Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)

018: The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969)

017: Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run (1975)

016: David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

015: Van Morrison - Astral Weeks (1968)

014: The Beatles - The Beatles ("White Album") (1968)

013: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced? (1967)

012: Radiohead - OK Computer (1997)

011: Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

010: Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks - Here's the Sex Pistols (1977)

009: Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde (1966)

008: The Clash - London Calling (1979)

007: The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main St. (1972)

006: Marvin Gaye - What's Going On (1971)

005: The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

004: The Velvet Underground & Nico - The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

003: Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)

002: The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1966)

001: The Beatles - Revolver (1966)

Comment

Comment

Top 50 Singer-Songwriter Albums

During the second half of 2015, I will be listening to and writing about some of the best Singer-Songwriter albums of all time.  This list was released by Uncut Magazine back in December of 2013.  I wanted to go through this list (in addition to the greatest albums of all time) to get a deeper sense of how singer-songwriter albums differ from albums in general.  Only 3 of these albums were also on the greatest albums list.

050. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle (2013)

049. Alela Diane – About Farewell (2013)

048. John Murry – The Graceless Age (2013)

047. Sharon Van Etten – Tramp (2012)

046. Josh T Pearson – Last Of The Country Gentlemen (2011)

045. John Grant – Queen Of Denmark (2010)

044. Sun Kil Moon – April (2008)

043. Amy Winehouse – Back To Black (2006)

042. Warren Zevon – The Wind (2003)

041. Lucinda Williams – World Without Tears (2003)

040. Beck – Sea Change (2002)

039. Rodney Crowell – The Houston Kid (2001)

038. Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker (2000)

037. Paul Westerberg – Suicane Gratification (1999)

036. Elliott Smith – Either/Or (1997)

035. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – The Boatman’s Call (1997)

034. Steve Earle – Feel Alright (1996)

033. Nick Lowe – The Impossible Bird (1994)

032. Mark Eitzel – Songs Of Love (1991)

031. Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel Of Love (1987)

030. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Blood And Chocolate (1986)

029. Dexys Midnight Runners – Don’t Bring Me Down (1985)

028. Richard & Linda Thompson – Shoot Out The Lights (1982)

027. Lou Reed – The Blue Mask (1982)

026. John Cale – Music For A New Society (1982)

025. Pete Townshend – Empty Glass (1980)

024. John Martyn – Grace And Danger (1980)

023. Brian Ferry – The Bride Stripped Bare (1978)

022. Marvin Gaye – Here, My Dear (1978)

021. Al Green – The Belle Album (1977)

020. Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years (1975)

019. Janis Ian – Between The Lines (1975)

018. Joan Baez – Diamonds & Rust (1975)

017. Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks (1975)

016. Neil Young – On The Beach (1974)

015. Jackson Browne – Late For The Sky (1974)

014. Gene Clark – No Other (1974)

013. Nick Drake – Pink Moon (1972)

012. Judee Sill – Judee Sill (1971)

011. David Crosby – If Only I Could Remember My Name (1971)

010. Joni Mitchell – Blue (1971)

009: Kris Kristofferson – Kris Kristofferson (1970)

008: Loudon Wainwright III – Album 1 (1970)

007: James Taylor – Sweet Baby James (1970)

006: John Lennon – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)

005. Dory Previn – On My Way To Where (1970)

004. Al Stewart – Love Chronicles (1969)

003. Laura Nyro – New York Tendberry (1969)

002. Leonard Cohen – Songs Of Leonard Cohen (1967)

001. Tim Hardin – Tim Hardin 1 (1966)

Comment

Comment

100 Greatest Albums Project (Entire List)

slider7_lg.jpg

I embarked on this project during the year 2014.  I used Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums list as a guide (below; as updated in 2012).  Not long into the project, I learned of another list (see Acclaimed Music) that is perhaps more revered than this list.  Too stubborn to turn back, I decided to finish the RS list, and to double-back in 2015 filling in the albums I hadn't already covered.  You can continue to follow the project by using the 2015 list (here).

100: The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle (1968)

099: Sly & the Family Stone - There's a Riot Goin' On (1971)

098: Elvis Costello & the Attractions - This Year's Model (1978)

097: Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin` Bob Dylan (1963)

096: The Who - Tommy (1969)

095: Miles Davis - Bitches Brew (1970)

094: Hank Williams - 40 Greatest Hits

093: Prince - Sign 'o' the Times (1987)

092: Buddy Holly - Lives

091: Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)

090: Stevie Wonder - Talking Book (1972)

089: Dusty Springfield - Dusty in Memphis (1969)

088: Johnny Cash - At Folsom Prison (1968)

087: Pink Floyd - The Wall (1979)

086: Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A (1984)

085: Aretha Franklin - Lady Soul (1968)

084: Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967)

083: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Axis - Bold as Love (1967)

082: Neil Young - Harvest (1972)

081: The Clash - The Clash (1977)

080: John Lennon - Imagine (1971)

079: Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II (1969)

078: Otis Redding - Otis Blue - Otis Redding Sings Soul (1965)

077: AC/DC - Back in Black (1980)

076: Prince and the Revolution - Purple Rain (1984)

075: James Brown - Star Time (1991)

074: Neil Young - After the Gold Rush (1970)

073: Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti (1975)

072: Curtis Mayfield - Superfly (1972)

071: Paul Simon - Graceland (1985)

070: Billy Joel - The Stranger (1977)

069: Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

068: Michael Jackson - Off the Wall (1979)

067: Radiohead - Kid A (2000)

066: Van Morrison - Moondance (1970)

065: Phil Spector - Back to Mono (1958-1969)

064: The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers (1971)

063: U2 - Achtung Baby (1991)

062: Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction (1987)

061: Sly & The Family Stone - Greatest Hits (1970)

060: Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica (1969)

059: Creedence Clearwater Revival - Chronicle: 20 Greatest Hits (1976)

058: The Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet (1968)

057: Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

056: Elvis Presley - Elvis Presley (1956)

055: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland (1968)

054: Ray Charles - The Birth of Soul (The Complete Atlantic Rhythm and Blues Recordings, 1952 - 1959)

053: The Beatles - Meet the Beatles! (1964)

052: Al Green - Greatest Hits (1975)

051: Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)

050: Little Richard - Here's Little Richard (1957)

049: The Allman Brothers Band - The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East (1971)

048: Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)

047: John Coltrane - A Love Supreme (1965)

046: Bob Marley and the Wailers - Legend (1984)

045: The Band - The Band (1969)

044: Patti Smith - Horses (1975)

043: Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

042: The Doors - The Doors (1967)

041: The Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)

040: Love - Forever Changes (1967)

039: The Beatles - Please Please Me (1963)

038: Muddy Waters - The Anthology (1947-1972)

037: Eagles - Hotel California (1976)

036: Carole King - Tapestry (1971)

035: David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

034: The Band - Music from Big Pink (1968)

033: Ramones - Ramones (1976)

032: The Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed (1969)

031: Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home (1965)

030: Joni Mitchell - Blue (1971)

029: Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin (1969)

028: The Who - Who's Next (1971)

027: U2 - The Joshua Tree (1987)

026: Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977)

025: James Brown - Live at the Apollo (1963)

024: Stevie Wonder - Innervisions (1973)

023: John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band (1970)

022: Robert Johnson - The Complete Recordings

021: Chuck Berry - The Great Twenty-Eight

020: Michael Jackson - Thriller (1982)

019: Van Morrison - Astral Weeks (1968)

018: Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run (1975)

017: Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)

016: Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks (1974)

015: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced? (1967)

014: The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969)

013: The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

012: Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (1959)

011: Elvis Presley - The Sun Sessions

010: The Beatles - The Beatles (The White Album) (1968)

009: Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde (1966)

008: The Clash - London Calling (1979)

007: The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main St (1972)

006: Marvin Gaye - What's Going On (1971)

005: The Beatles - Rubber Soul (1965)

004: Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

003: The Beatles - Revolver (1966)

002: The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1966)

001: The Beatles - Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

Comment

Comment

Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Albums of All Time

tumblr_mwnz7k6TsF1rpgpe2o1_500

So we made it through December, and all of those year-end TOP lists. Yes, I know, I even mentioned one right here on this blog...

It's interesting to look at what someone in a position of authority has declared is the best of human creation for a given year.  They're invariably incomplete, but yet we're drawn to them.  When I look beyond what is omitted, I find so many things that I had completely missed (like Vampire Weekend's album last year, or Unknown Mortal Orchestra from the Paste list).

I've always had a conflicted relationship with these kinds of lists--and, more generally, popularity. Most times, when a piece of art (say, an album, movie, TV show, or novel) reaches a certain level of mass appeal, I defiantly push back and silently declare:

Well, just because it is very, very popular doesn't mean I'll like it. I have VERY sophisticated taste.

I actually do love Adele, in spite of the mass reversal of acclaim.  But you get my point.

And then, often many months later, I'll cave in and more often than not love it.

What's that all about?  I've shared this with friends, and have learned that I'm not the only one...Why do we do this?  Do you?

33 1/3 Series

For Christmas, my love gave me four books that I had asked for (all from the 33 1/3 Series):

    • Book 40: Court and Spark Joni Mitchell (1974) written by Sean Nelson
    • Book 42: Songs in the Key of Life Stevie Wonder (1976) written by Zeth Lundy
    • Book 51: Pink Moon Nick Drake (1972) written by Amanda Petrusich
    • Book 63: XO Elliott Smith (1998) written by Mathew Lemay

I finished Court and Spark the day after Christmas.  The book was so wonderfully written, and gave me so much perspective that I would have never achieved otherwise.

I am a huge Joni Mitchell fan.  Going back to my first semester at Berklee College of Music, my new friend Audie Metcalf foisted her admiration of Joni upon me.  She was dumbfounded that I wasn't familiar with Joni's work, especially the albums from her golden era:

So, being a good friend, I listened through them and Blue has remained one of my favorite records of all time (and the final track, "The Last Time I Saw Richard" remains one of my favorite songs of all time, though I can't explain why).  For some reason, I never really gave Court and Spark much of a listen until now...maybe in life we're just not ready for something, and just need to live a little more before we can really appreciate it.  Or maybe it's a testament to just how good these little books are, and how good this record is.  Either way, I've been listening to it non-stop ever since...

I started Book 42 "Songs in the Key of Life" last night, and half way through I am already appreciating another one of my all-time favorite records on a whole new level.

This inspired me to look at a definitive list of best albums of all time.  But where to turn?  Maybe it's not very imaginative on my part, but I landed on Rolling Stone's list, because, really, who is more of an authority on music since the dawn of Rock & Roll?

The Mission

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm working on recording my third album, "Held Momentarily".  To breathe continued inspiration into that process, and for further music education,  I've decided to work my way through the top 100 albums from this list during the next year.

I'll listen to two albums each week, listening at least 3 times through for each record, and then post my thoughts here on this ole blog.

I'll try to read a 33 1/3 book for any albums that have published books in the series.

First up:

100) Odyssey And Oracle - The Zombies

99) There's A Riot Goin' On - Sly & The Family Stone

I've never listened to either record before...ever.

I know.

Comment