Monday, August 20, 2012

The 10 Most Important Albums of My Teenage Years

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.


  1. I pray I am one of the elite with good taste. May it be stated that it was you, my friend, who righteously shut me up when I blasphemed the Beatles, told me to listen to the "White Album," and therefore, changed my life. I since have a turntable complete with "Abbey Road," "Sgt. Pepper's," "Revolver," "Rubber Soul," and yes, "Please, Please Me."

    Also, every album listed is glorious, and I owned all but "Billy Breathless," but it brings my heart immense joy that Ben Folds Five was the only band to make the list twice.

    I'll never forget winning a contest on MixFM, driving down to the station and getting to chose an album. It was between Green Day's "Nimrod," and Ben Folds Five's " Whatever and Ever Amen." A pivotal moment of life. I went with the good Sir Folds and never looked back. I now live 2 miles from Ben Folds and see him at Starbucks in downtown Franklin, once in a while. Needless to say, my list begins with the Beatles followed by Folds as well... though you know Mariah Carey did make my list, and I apologize for that. I still believe "Always Be My Baby" is a masterpiece.

    This list says: you are a man of impeccable taste forever tormented by your own awesomeness. You sir, deserve New York, the greatest city in the world, or rather New York deserves you. Keep being the artful being you were made to be. To thine own self be true, my friend. And if you ever make it to Nashville, please, please drop me a line.

    Marching memories,
    Dave Frey

    PS: If you don't own at least 3 Josh Ritter albums, you must rectify that today. I've listened to "Animal Years" over a hundred times, and I find something new with every listen.

  2. Thanks Dave. Good to hear from you, always a musically open-minded fellow. This is going on my tombstone: "a man of impeccable taste forever tormented by his own awesomeness"...