10 albums that changed my life

It’s the day and age where, not only is music so putridly awful that it’s rare to see an album that’s listenable all the way through, the advances of mp3, iTunes, Pandora and the Internet mean you no longer have to drop $17 for one good song on an album full of total crap. But there were some albums that were worth every penny. These are the “top” 10 that changed my life, or just helped me get through it. There are tons more, but I think these are the most influential, cause they came to mind first.

Hole – Live through this

I liked Pretty on the Inside, but Live through this was the most empowering ass slapping chick rock album I had ever heard or really heard since actually. It was still raw and gritty but not quite so ‘shock jock’ as Pretty on the Inside had been, very listenable, and very inspiring to me. I was gonna form my own band and scream and play guitar because of this album, though I later realized that I’m more suited to soft cooing than screaming any day. I could play the entire album on my fat acoustic pawn shop guitar that was way too big for me front to back and have many excellent memories of doing so. Lollapalooza 95 was all about Hole, my first crowd surfing experience and being groped. It was fucking awesome. God damnit Courtney what the fuck happened to you, girl.

Alice in Chains – Dirt

Want to know what my life was like as a teen? Put this album on repeat, spend a couple of years on speed, stop showering, cut yourself a lot, overdose on anything you can get your hands on, and decide to commit suicide a few times a year – you’ll pretty much have it. Dirt was one of those ‘I’m not alone’ albums that I still cherish to this day, and the melodic excellence of the band has given it the staying power that other staple bands of the time, like Garbage, just didn’t have. I still listen to this one sometimes, though for reasons I suppose are rather obvious I don’t choose to go there very often. I like the other AiC albums as well, but none were as hard hitting to me as Dirt, which for all intents and purposes put a soundtrack to my miserable drugged existence for the first time. It’s still incredibly potent to me, and I’m still a riddle so strong you can’t break me.

Nirvana – Unplugged in New York

Let me be fair. ALL of the Nirvana albums and the various bootlegs that floated around for most of the mid-late 90’s were the center of my universe for quite some time. But Unplugged was different. It was more my style of music as I grew older, and it represented a “Look what could have been” aspect that I feel is at least partially responsible for my surviving my teens. It really made me think about the price of burning out so early while still connecting with my depressive roots that continued to hold me firmly below the ground that everyone else seemed to be walking on, but it showed a promise that somehow kept my head above water, too. I would not make the same mistakes.

Tool – Aenema

Man, this one is just so amazing I don’t know that words will cut it. Finding this Album was like finding the God in myself. It was the first time someone elses music spoke directly to my soul, carried me away and fucked me like a passion-gorged lover returning from an extensive leave. It was sexy, fairly simple, cerebral music that I still turn to again and again for the warm tingling sensations it brings. By far the best concert I’ve ever experienced. Sober, too!

Soul Coughing – El Oso

Holy shit! Music that is upbeat makes you feel good?! WOW!

Dead Can Dance – The Serpents Egg

Who can REALLY describe their first introduction to Dead can Dance? I’ll just say that learning there was interesting, vocal, landscaping, gibberish music out there that wasn’t fucking Enya changed my life. Lisa specifically inspired me to use my voice more, and allowed me to stop being embarrassed that it frequently sounded sad and forlorn.

Fiona Apple – Tidal

This album got me the fuck out of Baltimore, and got me the fuck out of the most difficult relationship I’d ever been in. By far the most intelligent lyrics I’d ever heard, and to top it off, she was crazy. One of the greatest compliments I received during this time in my life was from a friend who saw Fiona in an interview and swore to god she was me incarnate. She was also the mirror image that caused me to realize, I didn’t want to be quite as fucked up as I was, and in turn really changed my life for the better. I still cry every time I hear certain songs on the album, “Never is a Promise”, “The child is gone”, “Sullen girl”.

Paul Oakenfold – Transport

This album was a major step for me. I went from music that helped me wallow to music that made me feel alive. It’s also the album that got me through many lonely, dehydrated late nights at Microsoft as a Software Test Engineer. This entry comes with a neat little story. A couple years after I’d pretty much taken the album out of rotation, I got an email though mp3.com (RIP) from some guy with the return address dreamtraveler@, asking if I’d be interested in doing some vocals for him. It turned out to be the same person who did the first, and my favorite, track on this album. We made a few tracks together that can be found on http://notapplicable.info to this day, and I’m sure we would have made more if I didn’t hate all of humanity back then, particularly the ones in the music industry.

Moby – Play

New meets old in the most endearing and entertaining way. This album was my companion for some time, the concept still amazes me, and I really liked that I was listening to Church music without wanting to barf in my own fist and throw it at someone. Play opened my mind to new things, particularly arts, and cemented my desire to spend more time in New York. I met Moby and his band during the height of my infatuation with Play, which was pretty much the coolest thing that could have happened to me like EVER, and they remembered me later too. :) Real fun times. Play reminds me of summer driving with the windows down and just.. feeling almost free, finally.

Massive Attack – Mezzanine

Once tired of trancy-clubby electronica, Massive Attack was the perfect step up, and represents my current musical tastes well. It is sensual, universal, applicable music that can be the center of attention, or the background noise, depending on your mood. “Angel” is my anthem, and was to be my wedding march had we had an actual wedding. It is currently stuck in my car stereo, as that’s what was in it when some fucktard stole my car and ripped up the dash.

I grew up listening to the classical station, and Adult contemporary 80’s music. There was nothing specific album-wise from that time period and mostly what I listened to was the radio anyway. My first CD? UB40 – Promises and lies, when I was in 8th grade. Other influential albums include Portishead – Dummy and Cowboys, tons of Movie Soundtracks (Memento, Donnie Darko, Batman Begins, etc), The Gorillaz albums, anything Pink Floyd, anything Radiohead, most of Bjorks stuff, and a bunch of other stuff that I just can’t think of at the moment. And of course, the release of my own albums on mp3.com were pretty significant for me as well.

Albums that I liked for a while but don’t really connect with anymore would be like, Green Day – Dookie, The older NIN stuff, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Marilyn Masons albums, classics like Zeppelin and old Aerosmith, mostly popular albums that didn’t have as much staying power in my tastes. I can still listen, but I don’t seek the stuff out, and when I do it’s one or two songs, not the whole album.

Amazingly enough, it took me til this year to really discover Depeche Mode. I am so behind. And so not goth anymore.


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