I’ve seen a few postings on Face Book from friends listing the ten musical albums that defined their high school years and found them all very interesting. And I love all their selections but I was waaay out of high school when their respective lists were developed. I attended high school from 1970 to 1973. 44 years ago. I am older than my parents were at the time of my graduation. By a complete decade.
The idea for this post came to me in the days leading up to the looming inauguration, the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday and how the music of my youth still holds true today. I found it very hard to limit my selections to ten albums.
First, the MLK tie-in. Three years ago, I was lucky enough to travel to Washington D.C. as an interloper while my wife attended a conference. While she was working, I took the Metro from Alexandria, VA to the Capitol Mall and walked around. One of the most powerful images, and there are many, was the memorial to Dr. King. His image is breaking loose from a huge block of stone surrounded by other walls of stone etched with his quotes. But the most powerful image was in my head when both my wife and I were standing at the top of the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial and we turned to look towards the Capitol. The Mall is very large. At that time it was mostly empty. In my head, I saw the photograph of the day when Dr. King gave his speech, the Mall completely filled with people. The power of that gave me a chill then. And it does as I write this.
As usual, my mind is pin balling on how all of this ties together: the past and current turbulent times, war, social unrest, the continuation of prejudiced white men still desperately trying to hold on to power in country in which they are no longer a majority demographic (were they ever?) and My Musical List . Unfortunately we’ve come full circle. Or maybe we never moved forward at all.
My list. There are more than ten because I decided to list the artists who made them. Still more than ten. Eighteen actually. While I eliminated several others, these were the ones that really formed me, listed in no particular order:
1. Poco – “Poco” Their 2nd album and the first one to feature Timothy B. Schmit, a fellow Sacramentan. Plus, they were one of the many bands rising from the ashes of my absolute favorite band, Buffalo Springfield.
2. Neil Young – “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”, “After the Gold Rush”, “Harvest” Buffalo Springfield again (pun intended, look it up), in my head, I WAS Neil Young.
3. Marvin Gaye – “What’s Going On” Holy shit. His voice. His words.
4. Led Zeppelin – “I-IV”, “Houses of the Holy” Robert Plant/ Jimmy Page. Nuff said.
5. Blind Faith – “Blind Faith” An off-shoot of Traffic and Cream plus a few more
6. Dave Mason – “Alone Together” Another Traffic alumnus
7. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Cosmos Factory” Although their self-titled first album, “Bayou Country” and “Green River” were also influential.
8. The Doors – “Morrison Hotel”/”L.A. Woman” All of their albums really. The Doors were the epitome of Sex, Drugs & Rock and Roll
9. Crosby, Stills & Nash – “Crosby, Stills & Nash” Another Buffalo Springfield derivative.
10. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – “Déjà vu”
11. Various artists – “Woodstock Live Album”
12. Santana – “Santana” and “Abraxas” Still great cover- to-cover
13. Tower of Power – “East Bay Grease”, “What is Hip?” The ultimate dance band
14. Doobie Brothers – “Toulouse Street”
15. The Eagles – “Eagles”
16. Sly and the Family Stone – “Stand!” Multi-racial, multi-talented and a female trumpet player! From Sacramento!
17. Earth, Wind & Fire – “Head to the Sky”
18. The Allman Brothers Band – “At Fillmore East”, “Eat a Peach” I know, southern rock, but you gotta love a band with two drummers! Blue Sky is one of my all-time favorite songs.
I think I’m going to come up with a list that’ll define the next four years. I’m gonna need to find the next Marvin Gaye. Thank God grass is legal now.