Friday, January 13, 2017

Formative teenage records

In a nice little bit of communal sharing and fun amidst the terror, anger, and sadness of the current political landscape, most of my friends have been posting lists of the 10 (or so) most important albums of their teenage years on Facebook. I quit the book of face a few years ago in order to stop arguing politics with my relatives and avoid stupid memes from both sides, but I still log in to my wife's account to see what certain people are up to and to look at cute pictures of my niece and nephew. It's been fun to see what records my friends were soaking up between the ages of 14 and 18, and it got me thinking about the big records for me in that turbulent 4-year chunk of time.
I was in high school from 1991-1995 in a culturally isolated small town in the Midwest. I didn't have MTV, the nearest major city was a four-hour drive away, the Internet was not really a thing yet for the average human, I had to drive 38 miles to buy CDs and cassettes, and it was a lot easier to find major label records than indies. I relied on music magazines, a few cool older friends and relatives, the cut-out bin at Wal-Mart, the TV programs Night Tracks and JBTV, my uncle's record collection, mail order, the one decent record store in the area, and random acts of weirdness to find out about bands. There were no real music scenes in my town, so the small handful of us who liked music more than sports congregated together, and we listened to pretty much everything except mainstream pop. I listened to a lot of terrible stuff, a lot of embarrassing stuff, and a lot of good and great stuff. These are the records I was able to find at the time that still mean something to me and have some connection to my listening habits now. If I were being totally honest, I'd put Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction and lots of mainstream alt-rock stuff on here, too, but I don't listen to much of that stuff now, except for my rare nostalgia wallows. Here are the records I was completely obsessed with between 9th and 12th grades (I tried to limit it to 10, and then this happened) (also, I think my taste was better in elementary school and college and so much worse in junior high): 

Jimi Hendrix - Band of Gypsys
The Beatles - White Album
Nirvana - Nevermind and In Utero
Jeff Buckley - Grace
Dinosaur Jr - Where You Been and Green Mind
Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes
Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and Wowee Zowee
The Replacements - Tim, Let It Be, and Pleased to Meet Me
Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime
fIREHOSE - Flyin' the Flannel
PJ Harvey - Rid of Me and To Bring You My Love
Bad Brains - Rock for Light
Black Flag - The First Four Years
The Clash - London Calling
Miles Davis - Bitches Brew (didn't appreciate this one until my twenties, but I listened to it a lot trying to understand it)
Faith No More - Angel Dust
Stevie Wonder - Innervisions
The Breeders - Last Splash
Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy
Mudhoney - Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
Camper Van Beethoven - Key Lime Pie
Meat Puppets - II
The Black Crowes - The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion
Frank Black - Frank Black and Teenager of the Year
R.E.M. - Eponymous
Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Rust Never Sleeps
Fishbone - The Reality of My Surroundings and Truth and Soul
Pixies - Surfer Rosa and, to a slightly lesser extent, the other three
Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville
Sonic Youth - Dirty, Goo, Daydream Nation, Sister, and Confusion Is Sex
Fugazi - Steady Diet of Nothing
The Flaming Lips - Transmissions from the Satellite Heart
The Dead Milkmen - Beelzebubba (I stumbled across Big Lizard in my Backyard in 6th grade)
Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes
Ween - all the '90s records