Monday, March 09, 2009

We've Only Just Blog-un

I feel stuck between stations. Now that I'm a mad-FBer, there's the blog, and there's FB, and there's endless internets calls for my attention, as if I don't actually have, oh, jobs to do or a life to live ("hi, Amy, hi, dogs--I'm computing!") or something. But Mike from Mike's Neighborhood tagged me with this music meme on FB and I really want to do it, but, of course, I made it complicated.

Here's the original instructions: "Think of 25 albums, CDs, LPs (if you're over 40) that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life. Dug into your soul. Music that brought you to life when you heard it. Royally affected you, kicked you in the ass, literally socked you in the gut, is what I mean. Then when you finish, tag a bunch of others, including me. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill. Get the idea now? Good. Tag, you're it!"

So I made my list, but realized a naked list wouldn't do justice to why these albums did what they did to me. This is far from a list of my favorite albums, as it's about records that define a time, that were wrapped up in my me-ness for at the minimum a few months. So I put them in chrono order, as they're sort of an autobiography, in one way, (25 Short Albums about GY?), and realized the first one (it is actually the first album I can remember owning) would take the most explanation. Luckily I already wrote that explanation, so I'm going to quote myself from a review for the cover album If I Were a Carpenter that I wrote back in 1995, as so many writers are moved by their own hands.

Album 1: Carpenters, Singles, 1969-1973

Never mind the Sex Pistols, here's the Carpenters. At least that's how the 1970s look, really look. C'mon, how many of us were hip enough to be gobbed on and gob back in 1976-77? They don't call it Generation Sex, after all.

But the Carpenters were all the 1970s were.

Stop and think about that, because much of what the 70s were about was not thinking. I'm unlucky enough to have my own personal rhyme for this--my parents got divorced, first on our block to do so. Playing music on my crappy white plastic stereo meant turning away from the house, the world. So sure as hell, rainy days and Mondays always got me down. Most of the rest of the week, too.

The Carpenters were hitmakers because they flatlined emotion. "Top of the World" exists in the same bright affectless vocal bubble as "Hurting Each Other," only the secondhand Phil Spector swells of strings hint at feeling. These songs make every up, down, fantasy, fuckup seem midtempo okey-dokey decent, just as Karen and Richard were smiling siblings, not lusty or squabbling lovers, just as Karen and Richard were average-looking and so unsexy that they seemed advertisements for a spay and neuter clinic. But the songs, so simple, so definitional. They got played at wedding because they were as staid and safe as church. They denied, Watergate, Vietnam, sure, but also that your seventh grade groin might ache for Ellen Sombers, that your dad didn't sing when he left the house for good. The songs had all the surprise of Hallmark, all the off-the-rack wisdom. It's no surprise, then, that Karen Carpenter faded away; she finally (dis-)embodied the nothing she was. But being nothing can be everything. At least a decade.

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7 Comments:

Blogger George said...

Do you want me to post the other albums here, too?

10:52 PM  
Anonymous Freealonzo said...

I'd love to see the entire list.

I did something like this a year back or so. Here's the recap with individual links:

http://blog.lib.umn.edu/carls064/freealonzo/2007/11/30_favorite_albums_recap.html

Also finally got the Replacements and Meat Puppets concerts in electronic version click my name for instructions how to access

5:35 AM  
Anonymous James said...

Yes, post them. I find myself split between the blog and FB as well. But I like the blog more. Blogs are better, more individual. I like the idea of this meme also as there are many albums that are not favorites, and that I never even listen to anymore, and yet, they are so important for the way they define certain times.

6:48 AM  
Blogger Queen Whackamole said...

Hey, my folks were first on the block too! None of my husbands have worried about it much.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Marty said...

Well, you could have put the Carpenters on your guilty pleasures list back when, for sure. Before I was able to buy my own albums, that Carpenters was about the only pop my parents owned, other than Neil Diamond and an odd Partidge Family album to "diversify" their collection of country and some folk. I split my youthful time between The Carpenters and ND's (gulp) Jonathan Livinston Seagull and (double gulp) The Partridge Family. Your cajones are huge to put this at 1, and I can only applaud your honesty.

12:39 AM  
Blogger George said...

The Carpenters are #1 chronologically, not in any other way. And you made me realize I forgot my sister's copy of Hot August Night. Thanks.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Marty said...

I got that. Even so, there's that filigree purple junior high outfit with matching pants and vest that I would like to pretend I never wore in jr. high (thanks, mom), were I to generate a list of my fashion phases (such as they are), especially for a blog. I might be tempted to edit that memory. You could have arbitrarily started your musical awakening at the first cool thing that perked up your ears, and your eloquence about the Carpenters proved that they were far more than simple bubblegum in your experience of them. So my comment still stands.

1:37 PM  

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