I was going to call this my ten favorite albums of my teenage years, but such a list would consist mostly of Beatles albums. So by calling it the ten "most important" I can get away with including just one token Beatles album to represent all of them. But it's not a random choice—Please Please Me was the first Beatles album I bought, and one of the first rock albums I ever bought. It was a gateway album. Until then, I hadn't thought of myself as the "kind of person" who listens to rock music. It was exciting to finally be getting into something other kids my age were into.
The second album on my list was another kind of gateway: it enabled me to be identified as a person with "good taste" in music, which in turn led to my making friends with other people who had "good taste" in music. (Throughout high school, there were only a handful of us who fit that description.)
Beyond that, you can just think of this as a list of the albums that most affected my emotions and personality. I came up with the list very quickly, listing them as they came to mind with as little thought as possible. I hope I'm not forgetting anything.
What does this list say about me? Seriously, you tell me.
1. The Beatles — Please Please Me (1963)
2. Ben Folds Five — Whatever and Ever Amen (1997)3. The Smashing Pumpkins — Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)
4. Beck — Odelay (1996)
5. Led Zeppelin — Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
6. Squirrel Nut Zippers — Hot (1996)
7. Pink Floyd — Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
8. Ben Folds Five — The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner (1999)
9. Phish — Billy Breathes (1996)
10. No Doubt — Tragic Kingdom (1995)
P.S. I never actually owned the last album on the list. I borrowed it from my sister all the time.