02 June 2009

Pitchfork's 5/10/15/20 Thingy

I like Pitchfork a lot. I don't really care that everyone else does too- I've heard of a lot of great stuff I never would have because of that site. So I read it fairly often. They do this thing now where they ask artists to pick a record they were into at five year intervals in their lives and sort of explain it a little. Here's one with Dan Deacon. You know, music nerdery.

So I thought I would do it because it's a fun exercise. So heeeeere we go.

5 (1986)

Julian Lennon - "Too Late for Goodbyes"

I think- and I could be conflating a few things here- but I think I had a little toy cassette player at this age, and the one tape I had came with this song and "Imagine." "Imagine" was a spooky song to me at that age, and so I liked grooving to Julian's song a bit better. It's still a pretty cool record, I have to say. It has that slightly off-kilter chord progression, which is really cool, and it has that lazy ska like beat. The harmonica solo. That's a great single.

10 (1991)

MC Hammer - "U Can't Touch This"

I'd love to say I was down on REM, those new Nirvana and Pavement albums, Public Enemy, My Bloody Valentine and Bloodsugarsexmagik. Buuuut one of the great years in pop music history came when I was ten so I had Hammer to move me. I was also into Boyz II Men at this point, as well as "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys and "Hip to be Square" by Huey Lewis and the News. Above all these, however, rose Hammer. It was a new, different music to me- rap. There was Vanilla Ice, but he was the more vulgar and less respectful of the two, which the very pussified 10 year old me wasn't really feeling. (Side note- WTF Ellen Degeneres just suddenly started talking about MC Fucking Hammer. As I'm typing this!) My mom brought me to Sam Goody and made the dude give her a lyric sheet before she'd buy the tape for me. "See Mom, he talks about God a lot." Yikes.

I will say, of those two early gigantic Puff Daddy progenitors, "U Can't Touch This" is still just fucking better. "Under Pressure" was a great idea for a sample (Nooooo it's DING DING DINGA DING DING!), true, but Hammer is just so much more enthusiastic. Yes, frat boys get a kick out of reciting "Ice Ice Baby" in bars, we all enjoy that very much. But "U Can't Touch This" makes me want to dance more.

15 (1996)

Nirvana- Nevermind

In 1995, my parents got me a discman for my 14th birthday because I wanted to start collecting CDs and listening to "my own" music. I got a lot of birthday money back then too, so coupled with some gift certificates, at 14, I bought these as my first in a big pile:

  1. Nirvana- Nevermind
  2. Metallica- Master of Puppets
  3. Soundgarden- Superunknown
  4. Sonic Youth- Screaming Fields of Sonic Love (it had the most songs!)
  5. Various Artists- The Crow Soundtrack (eh.)
  6. Foo Fighters- Foo Fighters
  7. Aerosmith- Get a Grip
  8. Shaquille O'Neal- Shaq Diesel (I really, really loved this guy when I was 14. "I'm a collector, so obviously I'd buy this." I had a life sized cutout of him in my room- thanks mom!)


By the time the next year had rolled around, all I was listening to was Nirvana. I don't know why I loved them more than anything other than the Beatles. I don't want to know, obviously. But there was certainly a time where a day did not pass without me at least sampling a bit of Nevermind, and this was that time. I obviously still listen to it often and it remains my super duper happy terrific number one ever forever. Have guitars ever sounded that perfect?

20 (2001)

Radiohead- Kid A

The end of 2001 was crazy. I was in college, with a lot of wonderful new friends. I was writing some of the best stuff I've ever written. I was falling in love. My best friend was overseas for the foreseeable future, and we sent him off by wandering around the World Trade Center area late one night in early September. Plus, I got a job working on St Marks Pl at a record store, where I met awesome people and heard some incredible music. There are a handful of albums that I'm always going to identify with that place- The White Stripes White Blood Cells, Fugazi's The Argument, Sonic Youth's Murray Street, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Orange, Desaparecidos' Read Music/ Speak Spanish, The Amps' Pacer, plus Andrew WK, the Strokes, Aesop Rock, Jesse Malin and, of course... Queen.

But the album I listened to back and forth from work on my discman (I boarded the iPod train much later), as I crawled there at the buttcrack of 11AM, until I moved back 13 hours later, from The East Village to the Bronx, Fordham Road dark and empty, there were rats in the median foliage- was this, Radiohead's epic follow up to OK Computer, which felt like it was vibrating my skull some nights.

Additionally, I started getting majorly into the Stones' Exile on Main St.- working lyrics and songs into things I was writing- and the Pixies' Bossanova. Marco and I had a bitchin sound set up in our dorm that year- we would put on "Good Night" from the White Album and fall asleep laughing.

25 (2006)



GZA - Liquid Swords

At this point, I wasn't making enough money to be able to spend on a lot of CDs, I hadn't discovered the wonderful world of torrents yet online, and my general mood was fairly sour. My interest in new music sort of waned, to be honest. I did have the iPod, which meant that I was listening to a lot of older stuff. The few albums I bought- Ghostface's Fishscale, Joanna Newsom's Ys and Sonic Youth's Rather Ripped- I really did love, however.

Mike and I were listening to a lot of Wu Tang around this time, I remember. My all time favorite Wu solo album is GZA's Liquid Swords, and this was really when I started to go nuts for it. To this day, my internet network in my apartment is called "4th Chamber." Yippee!!!

It really is such a diverse, dynamic record. I love that it's lean- my biggest gripe with rap records is always the length. 13 songs, 55 minutes, couple perfect skit/ samples, and nothing but deep bomb home runs, song after song. It is the foremost among that element of RZA material that's spooky, spare and heavy. The lead song- the title track- is one of the great hip hop songs of all time, I think.

I also really fell in love with Neil Young around this time. My favorite is probably Rust Never Sleeps, but "Ambulance Blues," "Cortez the Killer," "Like a Hurricane" and "Sugar Mountain" are other favorites.

A year later, I saw GZA perform Liquid Swords at the Knitting Factory only a month after seeing Neil Young at the United Palace in Harlem.

So yea. I invite you to do the exercise yourself here in the comments. It's fun!

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