Tag Archives: nostalgia

Of CD Wallets and Road Trips

When Katy and I were dating, she in Dayton and I in Raytown, we faced long, monthly drives to see one another. I tried to sell her on this drive by telling her it was only about as long has playing through her 10 favorite CD’s in the car.


We’re preparing for a trip back to Dayton next week, and I’m packing my CD wallet. I know, it’s 2012 and I should just load up my phone with MP3’s or stream songs from Google Music or something, but the car we’re taking only has a CD player. (I’m not complaining…15 years ago, this would have been a luxury, right?) I think MP3 players have made me lazy, dumping tons of music onto a player with no real intentions of getting to much of it.

I’m not sure I can even articulate what makes a good road trip album. It certainly needs driving beats, and there needs to be some amount of predictability. Nostalgia’s important, too, as my favorite albums make for great road trip albums. (Many of which, I owned on tape and got stuck in the tape deck of a couple different Escorts I had in college for months on end.) But then again, some just tend to be a solid, unflashy album in a band’s catalog. Sometimes I just need an record that will sound good in my particular car at the time. Finally, I take new albums on trips because a 10-hour drive is a great chance to wear in a new one.

Here are a few* that make my list. I’ll let you decide what criteria they meet.

  1. Get Happy!! – Elvis Costello and the Attractions (F-Beat/1980)
  2. Dear Science – TV on the Radio (Interscope/2008)
  3. Red Medicine – Fugazi (Dischord/1995)
  4. Forever Changes – Love (Elektra/1967)
  5. After Dark – various artists (Italians Do it Better/2007)
  6. Bloom – Beach House (SubPop/2012)
  7. a CD I burned with both Object 47 & Red Barked Tree by Wire
  8. Some Racing, Some Stopping – Headlights (Polyvinyl/2008)
  9. Feelings – Motel Beds (Fictionband Mechanics/2010)
  10. Your Future Our Clutter – The Fall (Domino/2010)
  11. Never Hear the End of It – Sloan (YepRoc/2007)
  12. 25 Years of Hits – Pet Shop Boys (Parlophone/2009)
  13. Slideling – Ian McCulloch (Cooking Vinyl/2003)
  14. Oranges & Lemons – XTC (Virgin/1989)
  15. Sex Change – Trans Am (Thrill Jockey/2007)
  16. Wake Up! – The Boo Radleys (Creation/1995)
  17. The Chaos – The Futureheads (Nul/2010)
  18. You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever – Orange Juice (Polydor/1982)
  19. The Loudest Sound Ever Heard – The Choir (Galaxy21/2012)
  20. OX4: The Best of Ride – Ride (The First Time Records/2002)
  21. Last Exit – Junior Boys (KIN | 2004)
  22. some last minute selection by Robert Pollard or Guided By Voices

*My wife reserves the right to edit the final list any time before Saturday.

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Episode 61: Talk Amongst Yourselves

It’s been a busy week.  I started, but haven’t finished recording Episode 61.  If you’ve been with me from the start, you know I rarely miss a week.  The show I’ve cooked up is going to be great, so I’m not going to rush it, especially in light of some things this week.

In lieu of a show, I want to encourage you to do the musical selection and blathering.  Pick an album that’s important to your discovery of music, and actually listen to it.  That’s right, actually listen to it and then respond!  I’m guessing many of us could probably go on for hours about these records without listening to them, but I find great joy in returning to them.  Sometimes I discover things I just didn’t realize were there in my first 350 passes through the album.  So don’t merely make comments from memory.

Now, feel free to say anything you want about the record, but I’m going to give you some questions to consider (only as a starting point–feel free to expound upon these).  Post your thoughts about it in the comments section of this post.

  1. What album did you choose?
  2. How did you discover this album?  What memories or people do you associate with them album?
  3. Approximately when was the last time you listened to it?
  4. When you listen, do you find yourself re-evaluating the album or simply enjoying it?

In efforts to get the proverbial ball a-rolling, I’ll start.

I chose Genesis’ 1973 album, Selling England By the Pound.

Several times in college, I would housesit for a professor and seized the opportunity to watch their cable television.  One of these stays took place over winter break, when he and his wife went to Germany and VH1 ran a Behind The Music marathon.  I watched far too many shows, including Judas Priest and Motley Crue (twice, apiece!).  The episode that left the biggest impression was on Genesis.  Apart from Phil Collins’ solo career and Genesis’ song, “Man on the Corner,” I was unaware of anything else in the band’s canon.  Apart from bursts of mind-blowing music and cool, British-sounding album titles, I was taken by Peter Gabriel cutting shapes in his hair.  This was a band I’d check out on my next visit to Streetside Records.

The last time I listened to the album was probably a couple months ago.  (I’ve listened to A Trick of the Tail and And Then There Were Three a few times since.)

The temptation to turn listening experiences into academic ventures is strong for us discerning music lovers.  Nevertheless, no matter how I try to examine this album, it still blows me away.  Sure, I get the song structures and can predict everything that will happen next, but it’s still so overwhelming and exhausting.

Gabriel’s vocals are at their peak here: sometimes delicate, while other times he sounds like a decrepit old man.  The arrangements are tight, and the band literally picks you up and takes you places that Yes, ELP and the Moody Blues just couldn’t.  The mid-section in “Firth of Fifth” is the high point for me.  At the time, I thought the soaring organ/guitar lead starting around 5:50 that peaks at 7:40 reminded me of The Seventy-Sevens’ huge song, “Wild Blue,” exclusive to its live album 88. (I would later discover Mike Roe was a huge fan off the band and was obviously influenced by this record.  He even told me about seeing Genesis in the mid-70s, while Gabriel was still in the band.)  The record still provides quite a visceral experience for me.

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