The Soundtracks of Our Lives

People don’t listen to music the same way they used to.  Everything is downloadable.  We pick our favorites on a song-by-song basis and almost gone now is the extended play and enjoyment of a full album/cd.  Even I fall victim to this with iTunes and my iPad.  But I’ll still listen to CD’s in my car on occasion, and my stereo at home is so old it not only has a 3-disc CD changer by also duel cassette players!  I keep it because the surround sound speakers are pretty bad-ass, but it also makes me feel like by never upgrading (who needs to with all the other portable devices now?) in my own insignificant way I’m sticking it to the man. 

There are some albums I will never tire of and will always find a home in my car or stereo.  Here are three albums (not surprisingly all from my high school or college days) that I love to listen to every track in entirety in order over and over.  Sure, more than three albums fit this bill, but when it comes to something like Muse’s Absolution or Wolfmother’s debut album – I gotta be in the mood to listen to stuff like that.  These three all-time favorites I don’t need to be in any kind of mood to listen to.  At any hour on any day in any given year, I could pop these babies in and not skip a beat or miss a lyric. 

1.  Weezer – The Blue Album – (1994) I’m not sure, but this may have been one of the first CD’s I ever bought when I was a freshman in high school.  And it still plays like a champ – ahh – quality technology these CD’s are.  Favorite Track: Holiday


2. Cake – Prolonging the Magic – (1998) Who doesn’t like Cake?  Like seriously – from front to back every track on this works like gangbusters and takes me back to my dorm-room livin’ days at Elon.  Favorite Track: Mexico

3. Fiona Apple – When the Pawn… – (1999) Another favorite from college.  Oh, Fiona, I never tire of your lyrical linguistic gymnastics and biting edge.  Favorite Track(s):  TIE (and they offer a sobering 1-2 punch as the closing tracks) Get Gone and I Know

Special Acknowledgment goes to every other Weezer and Fiona Apple album, every Pearl Jam album up to and including but not beyond Yield, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Greatest Hits, and of course Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits.

Two More Recent Albums/CD’s that might in five or ten years time join this choice list:

  • Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More
  • Robbie Gil: Save Yourself
What full-length albums/CD’s have you loved to continuously listen to over the years no matter what mood you are in? 
If you could name only 3 as your favorites – what would they be?


  1. Without pondering it too long:

    “Peter Gabriel – Security” – Yeah, I don’t know either, but I love it more every time!
    “U2 – Achtung Baby” – It’s where U2 left behind the ’80s and gently introduced me to Euro-pop
    “Joe Henry – Civilians” – A more recent addition, but so very good!

    Possible joiners to the list in 10 years:

    Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What
    Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

    Julio – Achtung Baby is one that has aged very well. I rate it more highly now than I did when I first heard it all those years ago. Great album. –DHS

  2. I’m in agreement with you on the Weezer Blue album. Add to that: Black Sabbath: Paranoid, Hole – Live through this.
    Honorable mentions:
    The Beatles – White album
    NIN – Downward spiral
    Nirvana – In Utero

    There is something so special about the music that shaped us in our High School / College years. I don’t think I will ever identify with an album in that way again.

    Megan – oh, geeze, Hole and Nirvana! Gotta love that old angsty stuff – but I definitely have to be in a mood to listen to them. If you go back and listen to the remastered quasi-greatest hits of Nirvana (released, I dunno, in maybe 1998 or 1999?) the tracks sound so good they echo the revolution of The Beatles. Nirvana really did define our generation – it’s too bad they flamed out so quickly and tragically. –DHS

  3. Dave, I always say that if I was born 10 years earlier, I’d be like John Cusack’s character in “High Fidelity,” still clinging to my vinyl collection and hanging around old record stores. The art of producing a full-on album seems to be lost in these days when iTunes is king, and that’s a shame, since a really good album has the same transportive powers as a really good book or movie or piece of art. I’m fearful of the day when all artists start releasing only singles and there are no more full-on albums.

    I was never much into Weezer or Cake but I love Fiona. “When the Pawn” is a great, underrated album, and “A Mistake” is probably my favorite track off of it. If I had to choose 3 albums for myself—and keep in mind that these 3 could change at a moment’s notice since I have so many favorites—I’d go with U2’s “Achtung Baby”, R.E.M.’s “Automatic For the People,” and Smashing Pumpkins’ “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.” Not just because all 3 are great albums, but they all remind me of specific moments in my life. They were the soundtrack for some important events in my history.

    And if you can, check out “From the Sky Down.” It’s about the making of “Achtung Baby.” I found it an endlessly interesting doc about the making of one of my all-time favorite albums.

    Chris – I saw clips from “From the Sky Down” – it looked really interesting. You know, it’s funny…I think our sentiments about the transportive power of a full-length album were also echoed in the film Almost Famous which I just recently rewatched and appreciate even more as the years go by. –DHS

  4. Ok, I’m sure I’m dating myself, but how many of you grew up listening to your parents sing-a-long with The Beach Boys on the way to the Jersey Shore? I was one of those parents, reliving each time, my teenage years driving (such freedom!) to the Jersey Shore. I still love The Beach Boys (Sounds of Summer my favority album). And of course, of the same era, The Beatles (Hard Day’s Night one of my favorites). And as my 3rd favorite, I’d have to add Lobo (again, dating back to my teen years). I STILL LISTEN to them, know all the words, and happily sing-a-long on my drives to the Jersey Shore!

    Can’t go wrong with The Beatles (timeless) or The Beach Boys (hokey, but fun). –DHS

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