Not necessarily my favourite albums (although many are), here are ten albums that have played a big role in my life so far.
Blue by Joni Mitchell (1971) While the first Joni Mitchell album I listened to obsessively was Hits, Blue just feels like every emotion I’ve ever felt contained in ten songs. The quote from Love Actually about Joni Mitchell teaching Emma Thompson’s character how to feel comes to mind.
It’s hard to choose, but my favourite song from the album is “All I Want.”
Begin to Hope by Regina Spektor (2006) In tenth grade I was driving to school with my mom and heard “Samson” on the CBC, and it made me wonder why on earth I was listening to whatever I had been listening to before I heard that song. While some albums exemplify my teenage years (From Under the Cork Tree), Begin To Hope was a big change in what I listened to and started a shift, inching me toward the sort of things I like now as a adult.
Ella in Berlin by Ella Fitzgerald (1960) I had a slightly different version of this when I was a young teen, with live versions of “Mack the Knife,” “Bill Bailey (Won’t You Please Come Home” and “(If You Can’t Sing It) You’ll Have To Swing It.” “Mack the Knife” is the star: Ella famously forgot the words and improvised, and somehow it turned out better than it would have if she had remembered them. Somehow none of my mistakes ever turn out that way.
My favourite song is, obviously, “Mack the Knife.”
Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel (1968) The album follows a unified story, in order of youth to old age. My favourite song is “America.”
Rubber Soul by The Beatles (1965) Like The Beatles, I grew up and matured with this album. A shift in style for the band, this was my first Beatles album, and while it’s not my favourite (hello Abbey Road) it did have a big influence in me.
My favourite song is “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”.
The Suburbs by Arcade Fire (2010) You know it’s time to move out of your suburban home town when you sit around crying to this album. I think the whole album is brilliant and seems to sum up young adult life, at least for me.
My favourite song is “The Suburbs.”
Under a Killer Blue Sky by Jupiter Sunrise (2003) I only knew about this band and the album because my friend in high school went to Warped Tour (maybe in 2005, maybe in New Jersey) and the band was going around offering people their walkman so they could listen to the album. My friend listened to it and bought it, and later I listened to it and liked it. The songs often tell stories and actually managed to influence my high school writing.
My favourite song is probably “Kaye”.
Set Yourself On Fire by Stars (2005) I didn’t hear this album until 2009, and suddenly my friends and I were all obsessed with it. Stars took over my life and are probably favourite living band (maybe scratch the probably.) This is another album that really influenced the sort of music I listened to.
My favourite favourite FAVOURITE song is “Calendar Girl.”
Plans by Death Cab For Cutie (2005) My Death Cab obsession has faded over time, but this was the album of high school (the greatest competition was Fall Out Boy.) I was obsessed completely. My favourite song is “Crooked Teeth” (but “Soul Meets Body” is amazing too.)
Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim (2002 Broadway Cast) The only Broadway recording on the list, amazingly. While I feel about lukewarm about the movie, the musical took something I like and gave it a depth and darkness, but also humour. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to and thinking about this album.
My favourite song is “Children Will Listen.”
What albums are your favourites, or have played a big part in your life?