December 3, 2004

Music, Memories

Its late(ish) and I've put a tired Beth to bed. Despite my busy day, I'm moderately awake and I've found myself enconsed in my music room, surrounded by so many memories. Since I lamented the devise of music journalism and touted the virtues of music as some memory filing system, I figured I'd pull out a few important albums and give them a spin...

The Album: Surfing With The Alien
The Artist: Joe Satriani
While I'd been into music long before I discovered Satriani, it was Surfing With The Alien that proved to me, and a lot of other people, that guitar instrumental recordings weren't territory only for new age musicians. Satriani's album showed guitarists that they didn't necessarily have to be there only in supporting roles or for thirty-second guitar solos before the last chorus of some hard rock song. No, Satriani crafted an album of nothing but guitar solos. And while some of the musicianship sounds a little dated now, seventeen years later, the songs hold up. There's a beauty to "Always With Me, Always With You" that's rarely been surpassed to this day. And it taught me something important - I might not be able to sing worth a damn but I can let a guitar be my voice.

The Album: Rage For Order
The Artist: Queensryche
I'd already become a fan with Operation: Mindcrime. Geoff Tate's vocals were amazing and I was into that whole metal scene at the time. Rage For Order proved to be hook-driven metal but the real importance of the album wouldn't really be revealed until, well, now and times like now. In high school, I had a group of very close friends. We'd hang out, smoke cigarettes, drive all the Virginia backroads and blast music. One of the songs we loved the most was "I Will Remember." I look at the lyrics now and realize how cheesy there were. But that really doesn't matter. In an instant, that song became our song, something that somehow symbolized our friendship, something that, fifteen years later transports me to those Virginia backroads traveled in summer any time I lay it into my CD player.

The Album: Joshua Tree
The Artist: U2
Like half the world, I caught onto U2 when Joshua Tree came out in 1987. I was 15 and idealistic. And what idealistic 15 year old wouldn't pick up on the anthems of "Where The Streets Have No Name," the opening chords of which still send chills up and down my spine? Who couldn't sympathize with the lonliness containted in "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" or the anger of "Bullet The Blue Sky"? Joshua Tree not only taught me names like Bono and The Edge but introduced me to the finest producers in the music industry - names like Brian Eno, Steve Lillywhite and the genius Daniel Lanois. It remains their finest work. It also remains one of the best and most important albums made.

The Album: Temple of the Dog
The Artist: Temple of the Dog
When Andy Wood, lead singer of Mother Love Bone, died, he left behind some great music and a lot of fans, some of whom were former band mates and musicians. Among them were Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron (of Soundgarden), Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard (of Mother Love Bone) and newcomers Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready. Cornell penned a pair of songs, "Say Hello 2 Heaven" and "Reach Down," and recorded them with help from this hybrid band. Then they wrote a few more songs and it took on a life of its own. Of course, Chris and Matt would go back to Soundgarden. Stone, Jeff, Mike and Eddie would form Pearl Jam and the rest is, really, history. But Temple of the Dog left behind such a wonderful memento of their time together and their love of Wood and his music. It was this music that pushed me even deeper into music and opened my eyes to the many forms it can take.

The Album: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
The Artist: Genesis
I take occasional heat for my love of Genesis. But before they became the Top 40, hit churning machine of the 80s and 90s, they were as progressive as any band ever got or would become. The Lamb, released in 1974 but discovered by me ten years later, can be credited with getting me into music. Its a long, two hour journey through a surreal landscape charted out in Peter Gabriel's odd mind. But it opened my eyes to the possibilities inherent in music. Sometimes its simple, other times its incredibly complicated. Its majestic in parts, harsh and brutal in others. Above all its almost literary in its expression laden with lyrical brilliance and intense imagery in every song. "Cabman's velvet glove sounds the horn and the sawdust king spits out his scorn," Gabriel sneers in the title track. "I've got sunshine in my stomach like I just rocked my baby to sleep," he whispers in another. And surrounding these words is brilliant musicianship, from Steve Hackett's subdued guitar work to the bombast of Phil Collins in his prime behind the drum kit. Its music in which there's something new upon each listen. Its music that opened my eyes...and continues to.

Posted by Chris at December 3, 2004 11:39 PM

Strikingly close to what I did this evening. Only mine had a holiday twist. I sent Buzz on up to bed (he's harboring ugly cold germs) and then I spent hours listening to old Christmas tunes. All my favorites! Some of them on infinite repeat until I was sure the police would be called if I didn't move onto the next song.

Posted by: Empress at December 4, 2004 12:10 AM

Ahhhhh... a night in with great music! I still listen to Surfing with the Alien (it's in my car!) and Joshua Tree is in my cd player in the family room. And I haven't listend to Rage for Order since forever! And you're so right about music being able to transport you back to good times. But the same holds true for bad times so there's a lot of music that has been lost from me because of that.

Posted by: groovebunny at December 4, 2004 12:14 AM

I have that exact Queensryche album. Good tunes.

Posted by: Snidget at December 4, 2004 12:40 AM

Oh how I love Joshua Tree. Thanks for reminding me. Am now listening to "Where The Streets Have No Name". Ahhhh.

Posted by: Heather at December 4, 2004 12:45 AM

Genesis Lamb is so good.... I'm going to see "The Musical Box" at the Keswick (a local theater) on the 17th.... should be quite excellent.

Posted by: tesco, your god. at December 4, 2004 12:54 AM

The intro to "Where The Streets Have No Name" can still make me stop what I'm doing whenever I hear it. IMHO - The Joshua Tree is simply one of the best albums ever produced!

Posted by: Sue at December 4, 2004 1:23 PM


&^($@ good selections @$)^&

Posted by: Maureen at December 4, 2004 1:54 PM

My dad actually introduced me to Genesis a la Gabriel. I loved it as a kid. As for the rest, well, the only one I don't know well is Joe Satriani.

Thanks for the trip. Just finished a pseudo-final, and boy are my fingers tired!

Posted by: alektra at December 4, 2004 1:55 PM

OMG, you don't know how I was over here gushing over each album you listed! I'm so going to listen to some Genesis now!

Posted by: RockStar Mommy at December 4, 2004 2:47 PM

Hey. This is my second or third visit to your site. I'm probly old enuf to be your mom, my daughter has a link to your site on hers. I read your comment about Joshua Tree, one of my favorites. You HAVE to check out their new How to Dismantle and Atomic Bomb. It's in the running for Maybe their finest work to date. I recently dug out Unforgettable Fire and Zooropa and da--it,I forgot how good they were. Oh and Rattle and Hum, don't forget.

Posted by: Linda at December 4, 2004 3:42 PM

I'm sorry for being a comment hog, but...I grew up on Bainbridge Island, WA which is where Andy Wood went to high school. It's also where Stone Gossard and the queensryche troupe lived for a while. (I had many queensryche sitings for awhile -- I felt cool).In high school I worked in a grocery store. One day I was bagging up bread, beer, and apples and I looked up and it was Stone Gossard staring right at me. I flipped out and rushed up to him and asked for his autograph. No one else on the island seemed to know who he was and he happily obliged. I then gave that autograph to my highschool boyfriend. Lame.

Posted by: Jessica at December 5, 2004 3:41 AM