Every once in a while you come across an album (can we still say album?) that is just right for the place and time you are occupying. It’s like a cosmic gift. It punches all the right buttons and speaks the words you need to hear.
In the mid 80’s there were three for me: Van Halen’s Diver Down, Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits and AC/DC’s Back In Black. I have two of those albums on my most frequent playlist still. They were resurrected thanks to seven seasons of Supernatural. (Best show EVER by the way, seriously you should watch it if you dig monsters and apocalyptic terror. And really, who doesn’t?)
The classic rock bug bit me hard again. I have seven AC/DC albums on my phone right now ready to rock at a moment’s notice. Listening to those songs is like chatting with a long lost friend. They still get me even though I’m thirtyish years older. As soon as those church bells start bonging in Hell’s Bells or those drum beats start banging in Back In Black, I’m sixteen again and cruising the strip in Bolivar wondering where exactly Bryon is. But that’s a different post. Maybe I’ll tell you that story one day if you don’t already know it.
Bryon has always been a much bigger music buff than I have. And our friend Damon trumps us both. They can remember stats, musical histories, which band member was in which band and where they went or when they flamed out and died. I just remember emotions linked to songs and albums. I can’t be bothered with the details.
I can barely stand to listen to a Journey album without tearing up with seventh grade angst. I went to every dance in the United Methodist Church basement. Junior high dances are painful, gut wrenching affairs. I had a big crush on one boy in particular who regularly attended those dances with his herd of friends. I asked him to dance every time to Open Arms, probably the drippiest most obvious song a goofy self-conscious thirteen year old girl could pick. He always danced with me (probably reluctantly) but I reveled in it and I can still conjure his clean, Zest soap smell.
He turned out to be a great guy but not THE GUY. Bryon was THE GUY and our HS song was Ratt’s Round And Round. We danced many a foot loose night before that movie every became famous.
When I went to college, Pink Floyd’s The Wall became one of my obsessions. I wrote a paper on it. Twelve pages if I remember correctly. It was the longest paper I’d ever written. It may have been the longest I had to write for my entire degree come to think of it. Wow, does twelve pages seem paltry now. I could write twelve pages in my sleep.
I’ll have to admit to an elementary crush on Barry Manilow, Neil Sedaka and Shaun Cassidy. Shaun was the Justin Bieber of my time.
There were lots of others, too many to list. Just a couple of weeks ago, I found a new favorite: Dr. Dog Be The Void. There was a great review of them on NPR, and I finally downloaded their album to check them out after I heard them one day at my favorite coffee house.
I usually have to listen through an album several times before it takes root and grows or dies on the vine. I don’t like story songs anymore. I’ve been wearing this album out while I burn down the highways.
I like Dr. Dog because it has a Kings of Leon/Mighty Mighty Bosstones meets the Bottle Rockets feel to me. Not every song makes a lot of sense but there are snippets of lyrics that hit spot on for me. I especially like That Old Black Hole. I wish I could give you a listen here, but you can check them out and the NPR interview if you would like.
It may not be your thing. You might not dig it. Music, like books, finds us when and where we are and gives us what we need if we are willing to accept it. Sometimes it gives us a shoulder to cry on, a driving beat and a boost of confidence to muddle through. And sometimes it’s like an encrypted message from God with an answer you’ve been needing. Or a command to just wake up and smell the damn roses in a few lines of lyrics that won’t mean crap to anyone else.
Because it’s your music. And it’s your time for it.