25 August 2006

Good Albums Come to Those Who Wait

Happy weekend everyone! I'm just a day away from heading to a 70s-themed, faux prom being thrown for my friend Amy's birthday. I'll be dressed like "Sexy 70s Jogger," which means tube socks with blue and red stripes, enormous sunglasses, and short-sort, red terrycloth running shorts. Can you handle it? I almost can't.

But before all that fun begins, let me ask you a quick question...

Which albums did you learn to love? By that, I mean albums that you bought and didn't quite like at first. Maybe there was one song that grooved you, but the overall record got skipped in favor of one more listen to Sgt. Pepper's. Then, however, after a few weeks (or months) you decided to give the chastised album another chance... and BAM! Suddenly, you got it. And it entered your heart forever.

For me, there are two obvious answers to this question.

As an eighth grader, I had been happily dieting on REM's videos for "Losing My Religion" and "Shiny Happy People" for over a year. And when "Automatic for the People" got released, I ran right out to buy the cassette. (I know! Cassette! And this one was yellow, I remember, which was super crazy.) But you know what? That album was totally lost on me. I thought "Everybody Hurts" was pretty good, but otherwise, I decided the album was snooze central. To me, Tori Amos was more arresting. U2's "Achtung Baby" was more inventive. I shoved my yellow cassette among a pile of ill-purchased singles, including Joe Public's "Live and Learn." (And if you remember that song, let's be best friends.)

Then high school started. I started studying poetry in Mrs. Ireland's class. I got... I don't know... more thoughtful? Whatever the case, a year after I bought it, I finally started HEARING "Automatic for the People," and now it remains one of my favorite albums. The layered, elegant music is like a soft blanket, and the twisting emotions of the words still move me. I especially love the sadness of "Try Not to Breathe" and the political anger of "Ignoreland."

A few years later, I had a similarly slow wake-up call to the music of Allison Moorer. For those who don't know here, she's an alt-country singer who happens to be the sister of Shelby Lynne. Her music rarely has pop polish, which makes an immediate affection difficult (for me). Her songs require several listens to sink in, but when they do, they're amazing. I have five of her albums, and each one has required six months of patient listening before it has finally grabbed me.

There's something satisftying about working for a relationship with music. When songs reveal themselves to me in a new way, I feel like they've helped me grow as a person. The ability to love what I previously disliked tells me my world has improved. Like a professor once told me, a vital critic isn't someone who learns to like fewer things over time, but who learns to like more.

Whivch albums fit this catgory for you?

p.s. -- While I was writing this post, I was watching "Lost Boys" on cable. Right now, it's the scene where Jason Patric, recently convereted to vampirism, tries to attack Corey Haim in the bathtub but gets stopped by the dog. Remember that? It's just a few minutes after Kiefer Sutherland makes Patric eat maggots. Awesome.



At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Holtzwoman said...

An album that I ignored at first but grew to love later on was is Elliott Smith's "From a Basement on a Hill." I just wasn't grabbed at all the first time I listened to it, but upon having someone else put one of the songs on the album ("A Fond Farewell") on a mix CD for me, I went back and discovered what I'd been missing. Maybe I just wasn't in an Elliott Smith place when I first got the CD, but boy howdy, I'm glad I went back.

At 2:24 PM, Blogger Laura B said...

Is that Ed Begley, Jr.??? Who knew he used to be such a nasty hottie!?

At 9:31 PM, Anonymous AdamH said...

It took me a long time to appreciate Mass Romantic by The New Pornographers. Now I love it.

It took me six months to realize the mastery that is The Nields' Gotta Get Over Greta. I bought it, listened to it, and put it on the shelf. I got their next album, realized it was phenomenal, and went back to GGoG. I was awestruck. So many layers, so many different styles. It remains one of my Top 10 albums.

At 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why Do They Rock So Hard by Reel Big Fish. Got it the christmas it came out, and dug "You Don't Know" but just didn't get the rest. Fast Forawrd to one year later and it becomes one of my favorite albums. "Down In Flames" is a song I can't really relate to, but that doesn't stop me from singing it at the top of my lungs in the prep room.


At 1:35 PM, Anonymous kalle said...

That album would be Achtung Baby. Before that I couldn't stand U2 and their whiny propaganda a la "New Year's Day". (but I did buy Joshua Tree later and now think it's a great album)

I bought AB because I had heard "Mysterious Ways" on the radio and liked it. Then, piece by piece, the other songs started to crawl under my skin and eventually I wouldn't put on the album unless there was time to play it entirely. Achtung Baby really opened me up for pop music other than heavy metal and hard rock.

At 3:25 PM, Blogger Mark Blankenship said...

In response to Laura's comment... I WISH that were Ed Begley, Jr. Rowr!


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