While sheltering in place during the coronavirus pandemic, humans around the world have discovered ample time to interact on social media platforms. One of the more common occurrences for many has been the higher-than-normal frequency of being tagged to share your 10 or 20 favorite albums. It was fun when it made the rounds 10 years ago but has become a chore, especially when others decide to drag you back into another challenge and you are expected to tag some poor, unsuspecting soul each of the ten days. It’s a pyramid scheme.
A friend recently posted this query: What are five albums you could put on endless repeat? This one intrigued me. Endless repeat means forever. For many of my favorite albums, this would promise absolute burnout. Let’s face it, we all have our life’s favorite albums or songs memorized. An endless repeat of those could lead to breakdown city. So, I jettisoned my usual favorite album list and came up with a fresh one including various genres that make me happy. Following is a brief description of each, alphabetically.
John Denver – Back Home Again (1974). This album was one of the first I bought as a kid. Not sure how I came to know him, but in a small Missouri town, this music meant something to me. Probably my favorite track – among the more well known songs like “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and “Annie’s Song” – is “This Old Guitar.” I was a novice acoustic guitar dreamer who tried to replicate many songs. When I worked at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Kansas City years later, Denver came through town. I noticed Sting’s The Soul Cages CD peeking out of his backpack (Sting’s best solo release, incidentally). I explained how I had grown up with his music and I thanked him. As I left the room, he stood on the balcony strumming a song on his guitar. Wish I had listened more closely.
DJ Shadow – Endtroducing….. (1996). I recently began digging deep into this one and discovered something enormously pleasing. Shadow is most recognizable as an artist who brought sampling to the mainstream. He hunts through record bins all over the world to find the exact samples to meet his needs. It has been said he owns roughly 60,000 vinyl records and his music has been described as “instrumental hip hop.” In this, his debut, he laid down 16 tracks of pure wonder. I continue to listen to this album, picking up nuances each time.
Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid (2009). Headed up by the larger-than-life Guy Garvey, Elbow is at once the most established and the most unheard of band out there. Sweeping scores ranging from heartbreaking love songs to rock and roll turned to 11 fill the band’s eight studio albums. The most successful of these is The Seldom Seen Kid, with its popular single “One Day Like This.” Orchestral prowess illuminates this love song between an aging couple which is uplifting and beautiful. Garvey sings, “Cause holy cow, I love your eyes / And only now I see the light / Yeah, lying with me half awake / Oh, anyway, it’s looking like a beautiful day.” Listen and I bet you’ll agree.
Mozart – Requiem (1791). When I purchased my first CD player in the late 80s, Mozart was one of the first discs I bought. Throughout college, I listened to classical music while studying. Unlike my roommate, I could not concentrate with any music containing vocals because I knew every song and would sing along in my head. Very distracting. I continued listening to classical, mainly Mozart. As mentioned earlier, having to choose five albums to listen to on endless repeat could lead to insanity. I do believe I could listen to this one for the rest of my life and I probably will. Requiem was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s final work. He died at the age of 35 before actually finishing it. The piece was completed by popular Austrian composer and conductor Franz Xaver Süssmayr. This will serve you well when watching Jeopardy.
Steel Pulse – Earth Crisis (1984). Growing up in Missouri provided me with summers at the Lake of the Ozarks. We had a camper parked year-round and a boat. Water skiing was all I wanted to do. My dad would wake me and my brother at six in the morning to hit the lake. The water was as smooth as glass and it was the best water skiing in the world. I’m telling this story because in that boat was a tape player with some decent sounding speakers. I can’t recall how it came to be, but I believe the boat’s previous owner may have left some tapes in the glove box. One of those was Earth Crisis by Steel Pulse. We would let it play and repeat for hours some days. Whenever I hear Steel Pulse, I think of my days on that Connelly ski when life was simple.
As of today, these are the five albums I’m sticking with to play ad infinitum. My challenge now is to start listening to them in their entirety as a test. In a week, my list may change. No matter what happens, these five will always have a place in the chapters of my life.https://open.spotify.com/embed/playlist/0imwfqIN4jAopAtvvkVzGt