I'm going to physically write this post out instead of typing. Well, obviously it's typed in its final form, but the original draft is au naturale. Just picture me scribing on papyrus with a feather quill and ink by candlelight. I'm doing so because the personal nature of this post should benefit from the intimacy created by pen on paper. This week's subject: favorite albums. Instead of making fun of Morrissey's latest panty twist or how f--ked the music industry is this week, I'd like to open up the floor and talk about all-time favorite albums to get to the roots of why we come here to read about music, why we play guitar, why we love music, and what impact those special albums have on us.
I'd say most of us who've ever picked up an instrument have that one album that changed everything and gave us a hard on for music. For me, it's always been Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon". When I was 14 and on the brink of an inspired journey of musical discovery, I stumbled upon the album in a small record store following a guitar lesson. I saw the album cover's understated yet striking triangular pyramid-prism pointed up at me, as if it was saying, hey, dude, check this out. I had seen the image before and I knew of Pink Floyd, but I had never considered listening to them at that point, probably because they were so vastly different than anything I was listening to at the time - mostly grunge and the admittedly trite trend of early 2000s alt. metal. Despite not having the wall of distorted, layered guitars and the percussive boomage I was used to, I figured I'd buy it since it was apparently a classic.
I got home, put the CD in my boombox and from the moment Pink Floyd celestially chimed in unison after the anxious buildup of ticking clocks, footsteps, cash registers, heartbeats, and voices, I knew this album was different. It was clearly in another league compared to the music I was into at the time; if Fuel was the girl next door (yeah, shut up, I liked Fuel) then Pink Floyd was Kate Beckinsale - way more attractive and on a completely different level.
Everything on that album - the synth effects, the overarching concept that explores the human condition, the lyrics, the vocals, the clear and vibrant production, the GUITAR SOLOS - every aspect of the record fit together perfectly to create the ultimate experience of listening to a near-perfect record from start to finish.
I was hooked and thus began my first "Floyd Phase". And I soon discovered that I wasn't alone in my infatuation and attachment to the record; 24 million copies sold and a 14-year straight run on the Billboard charts reflected how universally loved this particular record has been over decades.
I've listen to "DSOTM"... I don't know, seems like hundreds of times. And what becomes amazing is how I keep finding myself returning to the record throughout various stages in my life, listening to it slightly differently each time. If I happened to be in a heavy guitar practice phase, I'd focus in on the guitar and David Gilmour's playing. Another time, I would pay particular attention to the words and interpret the meaning differently than I had done when I was younger and more naive. Sometimes the production and studio tricks would catch my attention, and sometimes the record would simply be played as low, soothing and comforting background music. The same goes for other Floyd albums as well, but Dark Side is where that personal specialness exists.
I guess the reason I'm writing this is because over the past weekend, I popped on the album to take advantage of a new speaker system I just inherited. Considerably loud and through some quality speakers and a subwoofer, the album played out, and I'll be damned, it was almost like listening to the album for the first time again; I got those chills, felt those inner surges of joy a physiological response brought on by the music. It was outstanding, inspirational and spurred my...hell 20th Floyd Phase.
So as you prepare for a great weekend, why not use today to listen to your favorite album of all time and bask in its might? Think about what the album means to you. Where you were when you first listened to it and how old you were when you picked it up? Why do you still come back to it? Is your favorite record by a huge band like Pink Floyd, or by an underground act few people know about?
Albums...movies, books, any sort of art really, has that personal appeal that can stretch over long periods of Time. Your favorite album is one of those purchases that are 200% worth it; you get a ton of replay value too, because it didn't cost you too much Money. And your ears Breathe new life into the record each time you come back to it. People may think you're even a little weird for listening to one album so much, maybe suspecting you have Brain Damage too. And if you're a Floyd fan, you can tell I'm just looking for a clever way to wrap up this blog post.
Pick of the Week: Pink Floyd, "Dark Side Of The Moon" (1973)
So naturally, "DSOTM" is the pick of the week. I'm going to guess that the majority of you have heard it, but if you haven't... well, Jesus, what's the matter with you? Take some time to put on a good set of headphones, get comfortable, chill out and listen to the album! And for fellow Floyd freaks who may know someone who hasn't heard it, sit them down and enjoy watching their reaction to the record.
Just for fun, here are a few tidbits about the album that may pique your interest:
To capture the spoken word passages you hear throughout the record, Roger Waters walked around Abbey Road Studios with flashcards presenting vague, open-ended questions and he interviewed various people in the studio; the band Wings were recording at Abbey Road during the same time and Paul McCartney was actually interviewed but his remarks weren't included on the record.
"DSOTM" engineer Alan Parsons was an apprentice engineer on The Beatles' "Let It Be" a few years prior to recording "Dark Side".
To capture the original inner album sleeve photographs, longtime Floyd graphic designer, Storm Thorgeson, traveled to Egypt to photograph the Great Pyramids at night under a full moon, an experience that he described as "very spooky".
"DSOTM" is the 4th best selling album of all time. The only records that have sold more worldwide are Michael Jackson's "Thriller", the soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever", and Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors".
On The Next It's The End Of The Week As We Know It:
Daily filming reports for the new season of "Arrested Development" (!) sadly reveal a last-minute casting change. David Cross, will no longer play Dr. Tobias füNke, rather, Axl Rose will be playing the infamous analrapist.
President Barack Obama responds to Ted Nugent's recent insults aimed at the president, stating that "Ted Nugent represents everything that is bad about rock music".
Steve Vai, who recently shared how he "dreamed" his career as a shred guitarist, wakes up from that dream, looks in the mirror, and is horrified when he realizes he's actually Michael Angelo Batio.
By Zach Pino Twitter: @zachpino