A few weeks ago, Bennett Garland and Kyle Norton started a journey of musical discovery by going through Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time and talking about them on the BGS podcast The 500. Every Thursday the dynamic duo goes though ten albums at a time, and they are currently up to #431 after Episode 7. I have been listening since week one, and it has been a lot of fun. I know most of the albums on the list, and I admit I can be very uppity about my tastes. But The 500 is not inspiring that in me. I truly enjoy hearing Bennett and Kyle discover albums that I have been listening to for years–even decades in many cases. I try to act like my musical tastes are completely objective, but I am finding that a lot of my feelings toward certain records are tied to a time and a place. I am not going to go so far as call it nostalgia (I am not sitting here listening to the Big Chill soundtrack, thank you), but I am discovering new things about my thoughts on certain records as the two go through the list.
Driving across Georgia listening to the latest episode got me thinking about how it might be cool for me, the old guy, to respond to each episode. My goal is not to influence their reactions in the coming weeks–that’s what Twitter shaming is for–but to give a different take on the week’s selections from my point of view. I am not going to respond to each record because I am not going to be able to listen to each album. As a result, I suspect we will all discover the common threads in my taste in music.
First and foremost, listen to The 500. Each episode is about an hour, and you can find past episodes here. Then I hope you’ll read my weekly recap. Bennett and Garland have put a lot of pressure on themselves to go through ten at a time for 50 weeks. I will do the same for the remaining 42. And I think we will have a lot of fun in the meantime. Let’s get started!
440. The Pogues – Rum Sodomy and The Lash
I like the Pogues, but have never owned any of their records. I recognize how good they are, am a big fan of “Fairytale of New York”, but they have never quite completely got a hold of me. That said, one of my coolest concert experiences was seeing the Pogues live in Freiburg, Germany in 1991. Shane MacGowan, however, was not the lead singer at the time. I am pretty sure it had something to do with the drink. Instead, the Clash’s Joe Strummer manned the vocals. How about that?! It was a great show, and the extra Clash songs they played were a treat.
438. The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry
Listening to Bennett and Kyle talk about this one made me smile. They generally liked this debut record by the Cure, but they didn’t talk about it or the band with hushed reverence like so many people I grew up with do. That is refreshing, but the Cure are amazing and their output in the 80s is nearly unparalleled. A good friend of mine has “Just Like Heaven” as her ringtone, and I still remember the impact Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me had on me when it came out in 1987. Yes, I have a pretty strong emotional connection to The Cure, so it was great hearing the lads soberly describe them as a “stripped down post-punk” band. But what about “Killing an Arab”?! The title track?! “Jumping Someone Else’s Train”???!!!! Ahhhhh!!!!
436. Beck – Sea Change
This is probably my favorite Beck album. It and Midnite Vultures are both at the top of the heap. Bennett and Kyle were spot on in their breakdown of this immensely sad album written after a nasty breakup. “Guess I’m Doing Fine” and “Lost Cause” are both great songs, and you should give the whole album a listen, if you get a chance. Beck is one of the best artists in the last 20 years, and seeing him live three years before Sea Change was released is one of my musical highlights.
435. Nirvana – In Utero
I like Nirvana a lot. They were a great band and are important in the history of music. I was in Germany when “Smells Like Teen Spirit” off of Nevermind broke. I remember the video, but didn’t realize how it was taking over. Bennett describes them as “grunge,” and rightly so, but they are more than that. He is correct in saying they are the band that does the most for him. My friend Baker once wrote a song called “Nirvana is Better than Pearl Jam,” and he is also correct. I put Cobain up there with many other musical geniuses, and I am sorry I never got to see the band live. I like In Utero a lot. It is a strong effort despite all of the pressures of having to follow up Nevermind. Ultimately, however, I am #TeamBleach, their debut record from 1989. Track it down if you haven’t listened to it.
434. Big Star – #1 Record
Bennett and Kyle’s take on this record made me happy. I am a huge Big Star fan, and when Third/Sister Lovers popped up in episode 6 I tweeted at both of them about how much I like the band. They were hesitant because that record is not nearly as accessible as #1 Record. If you’ve watched That 70s Show, you’ve heard “In the Street” as covered by Cheap Trick. “Thirteen” is one of the sweetest love songs ever written, and it gets me every time. I’m proud Kyle and Bennett got on board with this phenomenal record. Now, quit subbing me on the ‘Cast.
431. PJ Harvey – Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea
PJ Harvey is amazing. You can see her in all her glory in this live clip of her playing “This is Love” on Jay Leno in 2001. Wow! Yes, I am channeling Guitar George here.
(And now for the part of the piece where I point out that I am still hip.)
What’s currently on my iPhone: “Val Maira” from Dave DK, “Jupiter George” from Dauwd and “Space Woman” from Herman’s Rocket.