Here’s the cover art for my self-explanatory mix, Music That Changed My Life. The cover art for this album features a collage of ticket stubs from my favorite concerts and events [a portion of this collage is featured in my blog masthead above]. This collage is framed, and hangs in my bathroom as a daily reminder of good times past.
My good friend Ronny Knight (the same RK who shot my Hip-Hop Sgt. Pepper’s cover) was kind enough to take a high quality photo of this collage. He placed it on our wood floor and shot it from above, which gives the picture a great natural-looking border. A huge thanks to Ronny for once again bringing one of my hairbrained ideas to life.
Here’s the original photo:
And here’s how I turned that photo into an album cover:
Here’s the front cover:
[this cover has a full gatefold that features more of the original photo…]
Here’s the back:
Here’s the front of the liner notes that were inserted into the mix:
Back of liner notes:
Here’s the track listing (dates given are the years that I discovered said music):
01. The Hues Corporation – Rock The Boat (1974)
02. The Beach Boys – I Get Around (1975)
03. The Lovin’ Spoonful – Summer In The City (1975)
04. The Muppets – The Muppet Show Theme (1976)
05. Bee Gees – Jive Talkin’ (1977)
06. Billie Holiday – He’s Funny That Way (1980)
07. The Beatles – Here Comes The Sun (1981)
08. Willie Nelson – The Red Headed Stranger (1982)
09. Run-D.M.C. – Raising Hell (1986)
10. INXS – Good Times (1987)
11. Prince – Play In The Sunshine (1987)
12. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Rainy Day, Dream Away (1989)
13. Led Zeppelin – Bron-Yr-Aur (1989)
14. The Doors – Ghost Song (1990)
15. Pearl Jam – Porch (1992)
16. Beastie Boys – Something’s Got To Give (1992)
17. Miles Davis – Generique (1993)
18. Charles Mingus – Better Git Hit In Your Soul (1993)
19. Minutemen – Theatre Is The Life Of You (1994)
20. Grateful Dead – New Speedway Boogie (1994)
21. Johnny Cash – Thirteen (1995)
22. Calexico – The Ride (Pt II) (2000)
23. Fred Neil – Everybody’s Talkin’ (2004)
24. School House Rock – Conjunction Junction (2004)
The following mularky was written more than two years ago, and also wasn’t really intended for public comsumption. However, here’s what the liner notes say:
Music that changed my life…
Springfield, OR – late summer of ‘74, back seat of an Orange Volkswagen Bug. The adult occupants of the front seat are discussing – who cares? – while the 5 year old occupant in the back seat is completely mesmerized, grooving to the upbeat sounds of Hues Corporation’s Rock The Boat (#1) emanating from the VW’s tinny sound system.
When I was about 6 years old, my mom turned over use of about 40 of her old 45’s. I used to spend hours holed up in my room, listening to these records over and over. Two songs that stand out for me from that magical pile of music are the Beach Boys’ I Get Around (#2) and the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Summer In The City (#3) – songs that still hold up surprisingly well for me.
The Muppets need no introduction. Uh… except for this great lead-in Muppet Show Theme (#4). It’s as catchy as any other TV theme song I’ve had stuck in my head for the last 28 years.
The very first record I ever bought with my own money was the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack. The Bee Gees owned this album – and all of music – in the years 1977 and 1978. The song Jive Talkin’ (#5) was the #1 song for ‘78, and between Christmas ‘77 and mid-May ‘78, a Bee Gees single was at the top of the US chart for 15 out of 20 weeks. The SNF Soundtrack is also the biggest selling soundtrack of all time, with more than 25 million in worldwide sales.
My parents divorced when I was 10, and the divided record collection provided a clear and interesting delineation between their musical tastes. Billie Holiday’s On The Sunny Side Of The Street (#6) is a song that reminds me of my mom. In my early teens she explained to me how the opposing forces of a happy song and Billie’s heartbroken voice made the song great, and I’ve been listening a little deeper ever since.
The Beatles are maybe the one thing that my parents will always consistently agree on. The Fab Four were akin to a religion in our house and the undisputed soundtrack of my childhood. And no matter how much I listen to them, they always sound great. I’ve included Here Comes The Sun (#7), but this could have been almost any Beatles song—we sang along to almost all of them at one time or another.
My brother and I used to enjoy playing dj with my dad’s 120 album collection while he was off to work. One album of his that we practically wore out was Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger (#8), an album I still often enjoy in its vinyl format. [In 2001 I got to meet Willie at a Tower Records in SF (see life affirming signature on yellow flyer on the cover of this disc). I got to shake his hand and thank him for all the music – one of the true thrills of my life.]
1986 – I’m in my junior year of high school, and I’m hanging out at my buddy Bobby’s house after school when he pops in a cassette and raps along to Run-DMC’s Raising Hell (#9) – listen to this song, it’s no mean feat. In that inspired outburst, I realized that rap was: a) fun, b) music, and c) here to stay. When I got a copy of the Beasties’ Licensed To Ill a year later, the deal was completely sealed.
The first concert I ever attended (with the aforementioned Bob, and the infamous D. Quigley) was INXS with Steel Pulse opening. This concert took place at the Portland Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, May 28, 1988. Good Times (#10) indeed!
I had my very own Volkswagen Bug in high school (red, 1972, no cutsie name) and I used to drive around a lot listening to, among others, Prince. One of my favorite albums of this era was&is Sign O’ The Times, so I’ve included Play In The Sunshine (#11). This is also a nice homage to the high school years, which really were play, if sometimes in the drizzle.
Jimi Hendrix. Voted most important artist in the history of music by dk and millions of others. Jimi is epic to me in so many ways that space doesn’t permit full explanation. Anyone who’s seen the large as life velvet painting of him that adorns our music library can attest. I include Rainy Day Dream Away (#12) in honor of Eugene, OR, where I did plenty of just that during college.
During my stay at the U of O, I played a fair amount of hooky, some of which included day trips to the Oregon Coast – a mere 45 minutes away in my roommate Jonesy’s vintage Volvo. One song that reminds me of those excursions is Led Zep’s Bron-Yr-Aur (#13). Picture winding roads lined with trees a thousand shades of green and a beautiful beach at the end of the line and you’ll see that a little hooky was justified now and then.
In college I caught the vinyl-collecting bug and I’ve never shaken it. This started out of economic necessity, as LPs were considered a dead format at that time, and many shops were selling GREAT FUCKING albums for $.25 apiece, if not giving them away. My friends and I had a communal record pool, housed appropriately in the “record room” – a wood-paneled den at Bobby’s that was lined over with 33 1/3 album covers. One of the first albums I paid actual $ for, and intended to keep for my greedy self was The Doors American Prayer, unavailable on cd at that time. I’ve included the track Ghost Song (#14). And so a collection was born…
I first heard Pearl Jam in early 92, during my 5th – and final – year at the U of O. Grunge hadn’t yet broken into the larger national (& international) consciousness as it soon would, and this music still felt like our cool little secret. It’s hard to conjure up just how great it was to hear music that was new, and rocked in a way that didn’t involve hairspray, mascara or metal. Porch (#15) is the pick here, with a big bow down to Soundgarden, Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and all the other groups I wish were still making music.
I’ve followed the Beastie Boys avidly since their first album. By Check Your Head, they’d picked up instruments and learned to play, which really impressed me. Each of their albums has been an event for me, and I’ve run out and bought all of them the week (if not the day) that they came out. I have stong memories of discovering each album, and this one was enjoyed several times in a row at full volume while I played Frisbee outside my apartment. Something’s Got To Give (#16) is the track of choice.
After college, I spent about 6 months in Portland trying to become an ad-guy before admitting defeat and moving in with – egads! – my mom and step-father. During this unhappy (for all) time, I discovered the tranquil, soothing tones of the jazz album. In Portland I put considerable time in with Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, still one of my all time favorites. But the choice here is Generique (#17), one of the most amazing, concise, and crushing pieces of music I’ve ever heard. This song seems as good a way as any to describe the feelings of a 24 year old guy living in the alcove of his mother’s library – though I’m pretty sure that isn’t what Miles was thinking of when he wrote it.
From a pile of albums I inherited from a departing college friend, I pick Charles Mingus’ Better Get Hit In Your Soul (#18). This was another of the songs that convinced me that jazz might just be ok.
After – gulp! – a year in my folks’ house, I finally landed a “real” job in SF. By early April of 94, I was in the City. The Friday before my first day of work, I went into the office to meet my art director. Upon introduction, he informed me that Kurt Cobain had committed suicide earlier that day. It was a changing of eras for me in more than one way. Minutemen’s Theatre Is The Life Of You (#19) seems like an appropriate dedication here, and comes from Double Nickels On The Dime, one of the greatest albums you’ll ever put your ear to.
When I moved to San Francisco, I almost immediately fell into the greatest living situation I could have hoped for. The Nob Hill apartment was large, funky, loaded with amenities (laundry, roof deck with view of GG Bridge, backyard garden, BBQ patio among others) and held 2 great roommates and friends, Ben and Josh. Both of these lads listened to nothing but Dead, Jerry, JGB, Dead, etc. At first it drove me batshit, but I finally began to hear songs that I genuinely enjoyed – among them New Speedway Boogie (#20). I lived there for 7 years, between the age of 24 and 31. Thanks for all the fun, fellas!
SF broadened my musical horizons at once. One of the stand-out albums for me from this period is Johnny Cash’s first American Recordings album with Rick Rubin. Before this I’d considered country music beneath my time, but Mr. Cash reminded me that great artists sometimes work within boxes they never asked to be put in. Thirteen (#21) and others on this album were a great introduction into the dark, relentless, reckless genius of the Man In Black. [JC also put on my #1 favorite concert of all time – Fillmore 11/9/96 – see immediate center gatefold cover of this disc].
Calexico’s The Ride (Pt II) (#22) is pure tribute to all the people who introduced me to great new music over the last half dozen years. Among many others, my friend Fred has introduced me to so many great bands that it’s hard to keep track: White Stripes, Calexico, Red House Painters, Strokes [pre-hype], My Morning Jacket, M. Ward, Built To Spill, and on and on. I know that any time I get a pile of music from him, there’s going to be something interesting and worthwhile lurking in it. This paragraph could also apply to many others – BAW, Rosen, Timmy T, Cordell, Jason, Henry, Ruth, Furr, and more – and it’s my thanks to all of them.
I got married last fall [again, these notes are a couple of years old]. The P and I enjoyed a perfect wedding day surrounded by almost all of our close friends and family. Our wedding & reception carried a musical theme – from the nametags to the placemats to the give-aways – and we specifically selected every note of music that played that day. Two songs that sum up the magic of that day for me are Conjunction Junction (#23) from Schoolhouse Rock – the recessional that played right after we were wed, and Everybody’s Talkin’ (#24) by Fred Neil, which was to be our first dance, except that in the excitement of the day, we didn’t have a first dance. My friend Tim, who was our DJ, pulled us aside at the very end of the evening and insisted that we have a “last dance” by ourselves, to this song. It was the nicest wedding present we received.