I know this is late. Even Lil' D late. But I promised I'd have this post out at some point and I've finally had enough Celebration Ales to complete my promise.
To refresh your memories, Jack the Rabbit challenged Little Gun and me to post our favorite 5 albums of all-time about a lifetime ago. Now to clarify, these aren't our most critically acclaimed albums, nor our highest rated albums. They are simply our 5 'favorite' albums in any context. I've had my albums in mind this whole time, but I'm just now getting around to posting, so here it goes.
5) Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman (cassette)
This album will always hold a special spot in my heart for reasons only I can know. While I was extremely tempted to put New Age artist Ray Lynch's 1984 cassette Deep Breakfast in this slot for similar reasons, Chapman's album is still one that I listen to today, beyond my childhood memories. Both albums bring me back to driving in my dad's car when I was really little: on our way to a 5:00 a.m. hockey practice, cross country to Colorado for a family vacation, or to pre-school, this album will always bring me back to the two of us in his old grey Audi driving in the early morning somewhere. And for that, Tracy Chapman will always have a hold on me.
4) Marc Cohn - Marc Cohn
Ok, ok. This probably seems like I'm doing a disservice for my credibility at this point, but I can't deny my true feelings. Originally, I had the Beatles' Abbey Road slated in this spot. It would have been a safe pick, and while probably my favorite critically acclaimed album, it didn't meet my requirements as a 'favorite' album quite like Cohn's did. This cassette-turned-CD (yes, about that time) was a staple in my upbringing. I had at one point resolved to sing "Walking in Memphis" at the all school talent show in 1992. Luckily, I ended up doing an MC Hammer dance routine with a bunch of other friends that never made it to stage.
This album is chock full of gems that I still enjoy listening to until this day. Besides the well known "Walking in Memphis," "Ghost Train" and "Saving the Best for Last" provide some substance to this standout CD. While Little Gun may tell you that my wedding song will be Chapman's "The Promise" due to my own rantings at one point in time, it's really Cohn's "Perfect Love" that strikes a chord whenever I hear it. Now I just need a fiance and Cohn or James Taylor to agree to play at my wedding. I'm sure it'll all work out...
3) Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run
I'll never forget the first time I "really" listened to this album. My family was in doing something somewhere, and I was left in our old Volvo wagon in the parking lot. This wasn't any old Volvo though -- it had a CD player. Our first CD player in a car (a 6-Disc changer in the back of the car), it was '96 and it was the only CD in the player. I begrudgingly put it on and was immediately enthralled. Now, as pointed out many times, I'm not one for lyrics, but I was hooked by the stories and the emotions exuded by this to-me-still-unknown artist (I was only 12 or 13 at the time). I couldn't get over the growls, the sax, and the wonderfully arranged music that blasted so vehemently throughout the speakers. To this day, I've never enjoyed a single CD in one sitting as much as I did that one fine day.
2) Dave Matthews Band - Under the Table and Dreaming
Without a doubt, this was my ultimate find. To this day, I've never felt so excited about finding a new artist more than I did when I bought this CD. I bought this CD during the summer between 4th and 5th grade and never stopped listening to it. Sometimes you buy an amazing album and you listen to it so many times you actually burn out (hello Vitalogy and River of Dreams), but this was not the case with UtTaD. To this day, I can listen to this CD straight through and recite every mumbled line, albeit incorrectly, and instrument's note without batting an eye. I always dreamed that I would someday be at a DMB concert and one of the members wouldn't show up, leaving me to go on stage and sing their instrument's part since I knew it so well. I'm still waiting...
1) Derek & the Dominoes - The Layla Sessions
Anther Volvo favorite, my Dad bought this for my Mom for her birthday after we got the car. He was so excited when we gave it to her, but I didn't know why. Needless to say, I can almost guarantee that I've never listened to one album more times than this one. If I could pinpoint perfection, this would most likely be it. With an all-star band collaborating so cohesively, it's a wonder that this work of art isn't always in the running for best all-time album. From the first call-to-arms guitar licks on "I Looked Away" to the soothingly soft "Thorn Tree in the Garden," this album has it all.
While Eric Clapton is lovingly referred to as "God" around the world, I think that he's beyond labels. There's no one like him out there -- never has been, never will be. That includes Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix if you can believe that. Clapton's true manifestation comes in the form of a plastic disc that can swallow you whole if you don't pay attention.
If I become a millionaire, the only extravagant thing I would actually purchase is Clapton's '56 axe "Blackie," sold not so recently for almost $1 million. I don't even play guitar, but just knowing I could pick that beast like on "Key to the Highway" would be enough for me.