20 Albums. 20 Years. Six years ago, almost to the day, I drove drunk. I drove my convertible drunk. I drove it down to The River, and into The River we'd ride. I drove it through The Plains of The Ville, hot-dogging er up over the speed bumps of my old high school's parking lot and t down through the mud pits that used to be the field where I played First Base.
Then I drove her up to the mountain. Pinnacle Rock. Where I parked her.
Drunk and twenty-two with keys in my hand, I made my way up to the top of that goddmamned thing where I could just sit and see the whole damned town and all its surrounding areas. Over there, to the left, where all the parking lots are... that's where I was born. Now look straight ahead. Yeah, right down there. That's my high school. Now look down just a little more... yeah, that's it. That's my house.
And then there's me. Up here. For once, thank the Lord, alone.
The Second Love of My Life had just gotten rid of me. And that's all there was. Me, my Blood Alcohol Level, and two packs of cigarettes.
Well, there was that. And then there was my Rock and Roll.
My Rock and Roll said "smoke up, bitch".
And we sat, my Rock and Roll and I. Smoking Marlboro Reds and Lucky strikes til we damn near killed the dawn. Til my Rock and Roll said "Well dogg, if the Second Love of your life threw you away, why not drive half an hour and make love proper to The First, who's waiting patiently for you just thrity minutes away."
Word. My Rock and Roll & I did just that. And it was good.
Dedicating this to My Rock and Roll, who has never ever failed me, I present 20 Albums from the past 20 Years.
ROCK THAT'S WORTH MENTIONING
LOVE SHOULDN'T BE SO WRONG Innerpink This was back in the day. Boston, early-aughts. All I cared about was stayin' up late, drinkin', and fuckin'. I worked with their drummer. No pretense with the Innerpink. You go to their shows, get drunk, and rock the fuck out. Leave you worries behind. Thrash your body, get some drinks, and if you're lucky, get lucky. That deserves a spot in my top 20.
ON SLEEP LAB The Stairs The first band I could get behind because I both knew the band AND knew they were damn good. Their first album, Miraculous Happens, is so, so worth a listening. But it's long and scattered. With On Sleep Lab, these guys nail it. This is the album that all your friends' bands wish they could make. Focused. Angry. Loving. And still poppy. They'll make you wished you smashed your love in the head with a bottle of Chambord, then drank the Chambord, and gave everyone a proper burial afterwards, while celebrating your own triumphs as well. It's that good.
BEELZEBUBBA The Dead Milkmen Yeah, I bought this album when I was, what, eleven? Yeah. Eleven. I contribute much of the nasty side of my sense of humor to this album. I wont' go into detail, but if you listen to "R.C,'s Mom," I think you'll see what I mean.
THE QUEEN IS DEAD The Smiths I used to have to work weekends at The Wang Theater, just down the street from the Boston Common Burying Grounds. If it was still light out, you could walk around there without abandon. I used to like to sit on old ass gravestones and smoke cigarettes while singing "Cemetery Gates". I'd stay so late they'd try to lock me in. Infact, I think I tried to make them. They never obliged. I could always walk out. Which is more than I can say for the folks I was hanging out with.
KID A -- Radiohead I feel a little guilty listing this album. But somebody somewhere said something like "there are two camps when it comes to Kid A: Either you LOVE it, or you HAAAATE it. There has never been such a divisive work of music on a large scale as Kid A." Count me in the camp that loves Kid A. When it comes to such innocuous vices as music, I love to be surprised. Not what I wanted, but what I was hoping for at the time. It's like when Pollock said, "fuck climaxing on my canvas, I'm more interested in the drizzle." Cuz that's pretentious. Or not.
ALBUMS THAT ARE WORTH TALKING ABOUT
BLACK LETTER DAYS Frank Black Frank Black/Black Francis/Charles Thompson goes "country". Fuck country. Fuck convention. Frank/Black/Charles is gonna tell you like it is in a way he never could tell you with his names. He's got 21 reasons, and pity him Garuda. You'll pity yourself as well, and love everything you've ever gave a shit about at the same time.
TIGERMILK Belle and Sebastian On a beech tree rudely carved. "NC loved me" Why did she do it? Was she scared? Was she bored? On a beech tree, rudely carved, "NC loved me." Why did she do it? Was she scared? Was she pushed?
We'll never know
"Do something pretty while you can," she said to me once. "Don't fall asleep. Skating a pirouette on ice is fine."
She said this to me once, and that's why this album is in my top 20.
That is also why "K.C. loved me. We rule the school" is carved in a tree-trunk that overlooks the playground in JB Williams Park in Glastonbury, CT. Because we all want to be lovelorn children again, and I miss the swingset.
I wanted to do something pretty while I could.
MULE VARIATIONS Tom Waits This was the album that played when I drove the dunk convertible to-and-fro. Close your eyes and count to ten. I will got and get hid by then. Be sure to find me. I want you to find me. And we'll play all over again. Why wasn't God watchin'? Why wasn't God listenin'? Why wasn't God there for Georgia Lee?
SIAMESE DREAM Smashing Pumpkins How can I not? Say what you will, this album brought The Rock. And that's all I have to say. If you like The Rock, then like the album. There is Rock being broughten here, and that should be good enough for you. You who seeketh The Rock.
DOOLITTLE The Pixies The Second Coming, if you will. The First Coming hasn't come yet. But I got me a movie. I want you to know. Slicing up eyeballs. I want you to know. Cease to exist, this monkey's gone to heaven.
THE TOP TEN
BLUE ALBUM Weezer Yell. Scream. It sounds articulate. Trust me. And if it doesn't, who cares? Def Leppard got old and you're young even if your right leg is six inches shorter than your left. Somebody wants to destroy your sweater. And fuck em if they don't. You look just like Buddy Holly, and oh-oh she's you're Mary Tyler Moore! You don't care what they say about you anyways. Cuz your name is Jonas, and you're carrying The Wheel.
CRUCIFY EP -- Tori Amos
She took me to the woods and did me without taking our pants off. With the lights out it was less dangerous. Why do we crucify ourselves? Why not? Let's do it on the monkey bars, arms entangled on the out-of-reach places. Afraid to fall? Fuck it. Let's fall together. Right onto The Swings. You'll take me home and pretend to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken in front of your parents. They don't know you're vegetarian, so just put some mashed potatoes on your biscuits and I'll eat your wings.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND Live 1975-1985
People go off about the "poets". People wack off to Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas and Dylan from 90210. Me? I go down to the river down by the house I grew up in. I get drunk and smoke cigarettes blocks away from my parents who are sleeping. I thank The River for letting me grow up where I did and how I did. I thank the River for letting the screen door slam and making Mary's dress wave. Bruce, we made that dress wave. And we ain't no heroes, that's understood. But it's a town full of losers, Boss. And that's why I pulled out of there. To win.
NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL -- In The Aeroplane Over the Sea
And in the dark we will take off our clothes. And they'll be lacing fingers through the notches in your spine. And when all is breaking... everything... that you could keep inside. No. your eyes ain't moving now. They just lay there in your... Two headed boy.
GRACE Jeff Buckley
Yeah. Go ahead. Got something to say? Do it. And then put your boots on and go swimming in a Mississippi tributary. You coulda been something, but you decided to go swimming in a troublesome river with your boots on. Just take them off next time, will you?
THE TOP FIVE!
5. APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION Guns N' Roses They told me to grab her ass. This was sixth grade and she was old enough to be a freshman in high school.
They told me to do it because Slash would want me to.
We were on the Nighttrain.
4. SURFER ROSA The Pixies
The first album that ever made me think "oh yeah... this stuff, this is yours. This band owns you".
3. NEVERMIND Nirvana
You know what? Shit happens. And it sucks. RAH RAH RAH! Yell. Play power chords. Infer that your History teacher is an idiot victim of the system in that 10-page paper he's making you write for next Monday. But on Saturday, go watch Harold and Maude with that girl who wears the purple lipstick. She'll teach you more about history than the books ever could. With the lights out.
2. PINKERTON Weezer You feel bad? Go grab a bottle of whiskey, vodka, purple Zima.. I don't care. Grab your favorite bottle of whatever and blast this on repeat. I swear to Jeebus you'll feel better. The Christians say "Jesus Saves." Honky says "Pinkerton Saves!" It makes everything better. No shit.
1. OK COMPUTER -- Radiohead
Yep. Throw me in with the droves. Best. Album. Ever.