December 7, 2010

Albums.

Here are 200 $5 MP3 albums. 100 regular albums and — look for the additional link at the link — 100 Christmas albums.

I was just thinking about the way I don't really listen to whole albums anymore. Back when we had vinyl LPs, we consumed music in whole-album form, with the tracks in proper order. I think in the last 10 years, I've only really internalized one whole album. (This one.)

And I just realized this morning that the album that had the most effect on the structure of my brain and my life is this one. That opening track and that closing track — in particular and taken together — send a message about what sort of relationships are desirable. You have no idea how much that shaped my thinking about what I wanted and should (or could) ask for in life. The argument against the traditional was phenomenally mind-bending.

72 comments:

Dust Bunny Queen said...

One album that is a MUST to listen to from beginning to end in the order recorded is: Desperado by The Eagles.

It tells a story, almost like a movie, and each song has meaning and relation to the next one. While the songs are all very good as stand alone items, like Tequila Sunrise, they make more sense and have a deeper meaning when played as a unit.

traditionalguy said...

Thanks for sharing so much. Until I started reading Althouse Blog, I thought no one else appreciated Dylan/Zimmerman' 46 year old albums anymore. Gracias.

MadisonMan said...

I will never understand the Love of Dylan or of the Who.

rhhardin said...

I don't particularly like Rufus Wainwright - a surprise since I think the McGarrigles are great.

He took a wrong musical turn somewhere. Though there's a McGarrigle riff in his first cut.

This song real audio is about Rufus as an infant, though.

Modern real players will ask to download an old codec, probably.

lyrics here.

edutcher said...

I know both songs, but only as a peripheral Dylan listener (no offense, but I'd rather be shot than listen to him "sing").

I think you succeeded with the "what I wanted". You have a lot of friends here and, I don't doubt, in your life. You seem to be that kind of person.

The "should (or could) ask for in life" I know from the Turtles and think it's got some of the dumbest lyrics (leave at your own chosen speed) and a lousy sentiment - it ain't me. I think that's part of what's wrong with a lot of Baby Boomers in that they don't want to take the responsibility for anything if they can avoid it.

(I can, however, imagine a woman as attractive as you has had a lot of guys swooning and you had to tell them, "No, sorry, it's just not mutual". In that sense, I can see your attraction to the lyric)

Ann Althouse said...

I was just thinking about the way I don't really listen to whole albums anymore.

I don't think I ever did. I'd give it one listen to see which songs I liked and that was it.

PS Anent the "it ain't me" man-woman thing, I met a Catholic nun, about 40 and very attractive, some 20 years ago. She wore a polo shirt and twill skirt instead of a habit (OK for her order) and did some kind of admin work for one of the local parishes. After I mentioned how nice she looked and that men must have made advances to her, I asked how she handled it. She said, "You try to let them down easily".

Sometimes it doesn't work that way, so I kind of understand.

shoutingthomas said...

Oh my God! The Prophet Dylan! Boho romanticism!

The guy is a good songwriter.

He influenced the kind of relationships you consider desirable?

I would run to the other end of the earth to avoid involvement with a woman who bases her relationships on Dylan records.

God, I loathe hipsterism. How can it be killed?

Robert G. said...

What's more musically satisfying than putting on the big bubble headphones and listening to Kidz Bop 17 from beginning to end? Wait, don't answer that. I know what you are going to say, Kidz Bop 18!

chickelit said...

Shameless plug. I've been reviewing important albums to me, year by year, for a while now.
I'm unwilling to comment much on anything beyond 1974 (yet) but there are some albums out there now.

Ann Althouse said...

@edutcher The Turtles didn't sing all the lyrics. You need all 3 verses and you really need Dylan singing it to get the message. It's a great pop song in the Turtles' version. The Turtles seem to be just saying they're not ready for a heavy relationship. But Dylan is making an argument that the woman who wants a serious committed lifetime relationship is small-minded and looking for something that is actually *less* that the new kind of relationship Dylan represents.

Ann Althouse said...

"God, I loathe hipsterism. How can it be killed?"

Well, I loathe the shallow willful ignorance that your comment represents. If you think you're the type I'd be romantically interested in you're crazy. Thanks for running to the other end of the earth so I don't have to.

kent said...

Back when we had vinyl LPs, we consumed music in whole-album form, with the tracks in proper order. I think in the last 10 years, I've only really internalized one whole album.

Understood. What Another Side was for you, this one was to me.

Trooper York said...

On last nights episode od Pawn Stars you know who was the guest star?

Bob Dylan.

Some dude brought a vinyl Dylan album in to the pawn shop and Rick bought it. The shop is in Vegas and the counterculture hero of so many aging hippies was playing at a casino. So he sends his half-a-retard minion Chumley to get an autograph.

Which of course Dylan is happy to provide to get a couple of minutes pub on a reality show on the History channel.

Then I guess he went back to standing on the pavement singing about the government.

Those boomer heros are so cool.

Trooper York said...

Oh he was also on hand for the induction ceremony in the "Overrated Hall oF Fame" at the Luxor.

He is sort of the Ty Cobb of the overrated.

Smilin' Jack said...

"It ain't me babe" is a lovely song...when sung by Joan Baez. As for what it "means," good music, like good art, isn't a message. It doesn't "mean," it evokes. Listen, feel, dance if you can, but don't analyze.

AJ Lynch said...

Ditto what Mad Man said. I hated the The Who so much, I began to hate pinball games too.



wv = ferjoker

Trooper York said...

Of course you all know the album that most influenced me.

E.M. Davis said...

One album that is a MUST to listen to from beginning to end in the order recorded is: Desperado by The Eagles.

I'm with The Dude on this one.

(Warning: foul language)

AJ Lynch said...

You gave Chumley a bit too much credit, Trooper.

rsb said...

Both of those albums are great.

AllenS said...

I like Pawn Stars. The Pickers, not so much.

shoutingthomas said...

Oh well, there's no accounting for taste, is there?

My favorite albums of all time:

Louis Armstrong's Hot Five. Probably doesn't qualify because it wasn't recorded as an LP in the modern sense. Listened to these recordings a million times when I was a kid. Made me want to be a musician.

John Mayall's Looking Back. The LP that started the blues craze in England. Playing guitar, none other than Eric Clapton. First time I ever heard the Willie Dixon tune "It Hurts Me Too." Featuring the great lyric:

I was looking back to see
If she was looking back to see
If I was looking back at her

B.B. King's Indianola Mississippi Seeds. One of the greatest blues albums ever. Contains the immortal blues line:

Nobody loves me but my mother
And she may be jiving me too

Freeman Hunt said...

Heh, heh. No, it definitely ain't him.

sonicfrog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

The humorous thing about "It Ain't Me Babe" is that it conflates totally unreasonable demands with basic demands of traditional marriage, and perhaps he does think traditional marriage is totally unreasonable. This is the thinking that inspired my last comment.

sonicfrog said...

One whole album that deserves mention is by David Baerwald, one of the "Davids" from the 1986 duo of David and David. He put out an album in 92 called Triage.

It's dark...

I mean REALLY dark!

Darker than the darkiest Pink Floyd!

He was pissed at the world (and at GHW Bush, as indicated in the liner notes). As one writer put it, it contains "bleak tales of addiction, paranoia and broken dreams". Normally, I don't gravitate toward that kind of stuff, I'm a happy guy and lean more toward Squeeze / XTC / Crowded House-ish type stuff. Also, being a libertarian, I'm not in line with his uber-liberal leanings. But the first track, which features a rare appearance by hornster (and personal fave) Herb Alpert, with its story of taking a car ride with the Devil, is totally hypnotic. I didn't like the rest of the album at first, but I'll be damned if it didn't burrow under my skin and become a favorite.

The last two tracks of the album see an emergence from the darkness and offer hope, love, and redemption. The last track offers one of the best love songs ever recorded. Generally, I don't like love songs because they usually feel forced and insincere. I mean, really, how many times can you hear someone singing "Baby, I love you... Ooh, Ooh, Baby" before your teeth rot out from the spoon fed sap and you want to blow your brains out due to monotony! And it sound so fake, like something you'd hear in a bad porno movie. "Born For Love" IS NOT one of those songs:

♫Every morning when I rise
I wipe the sleep out from my eyes
Ask myself the question why oh why
Was I born

I go out wandering the ripped up streets
Bodies on the sidewalk huddling for heat
The whole world looking like some losing streak
Why was I born?

I get home and you're not there
But your clothes are hanging and your scent's in the air
If it aint an answer I don't care
Why I was born

I was born to love you
I was born to love you
I was born for love♫


Now THAT'S a real description of what true love can be.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

@edutcher The Turtles didn't sing all the lyrics. You need all 3 verses and you really need Dylan singing it to get the message. It's a great pop song in the Turtles' version. The Turtles seem to be just saying they're not ready for a heavy relationship. But Dylan is making an argument that the woman who wants a serious committed lifetime relationship is small-minded and looking for something that is actually *less* that the new kind of relationship Dylan represents.

You can make a case for the idea it's an anthem for one-night stands. The *less* relationship he talks about strikes me as something that is sex-only with no real commitment of any kind, no caring or support; the sort of thing you'd expect from double-aught-whatshisname. It may have seemed liberating at the time, but, sentimental slob that I am, it wouldn't have interested me.

Trooper York said...

Of course you all know the album that most influenced me.

I would have thought the soundtrack to "Fort Apache".

Freeman Hunt said...

But Dylan is making an argument that the woman who wants a serious committed lifetime relationship is small-minded and looking for something that is actually *less* that the new kind of relationship Dylan represents.

It is less. Less new sissy.

kent said...

Of course you all know the album that most influenced me.

"The Essential Hanson"...? WHA -- ?!?

Royal Tenenbaum said...

http://www.bobdylan.com/#/songs/it-aint-me-babe

As an 80's baby and an occasional listener to Dylan, I hadn't heard "It Ain't Me Babe" until now.

As a guy from the west coast that recently broke up with a "southern princess," that sounds exactly like my story.

A woman's expectation of perfection...

Rich B said...

One of my college roommates opined that "good taste is exactly the same as mine". He also turned my attention to "I Don't Believe You" which shows that even famous guys get shot down.

I have a favorite album, but it's always changing.

traditionalguy said...

It is interesting that Dylan's words seemed to mean one thing to me 40 years ago, but are now even more relevant to me when I re-read them. I often think of Bob as a latter day Hebrew prophet.

deborah said...

"Of course you all know the album that most influenced me."

Now see, that's what I mean. You can now slip your good deed coin to your other pocket.

traditionalguy said...

Freeman... The traditional marriage Dylan seemed to refudiate was actually an impossible enmeshment standard that was far from the freedom of two mutually appreciating individuals with many friends apiece and no jealousy allowed into their relationship. Thank God we can think for ourselves and not settle for a Hollywood cult standard where one magic person is our everything in life. No human can ever be all another person needs.That enmeshment standard is inhuman.

shoutingthomas said...

Dylan is descended from Ukrainian Jewish parents.

The sexual and marital morality is pretty familiar to me because my first wife was a Ukrainian Jewess.

When you're a goyim, it first seems very complicated and sophisticated. But, it's based on a simple reality.

Ukrainian Jews always lived in the shadow of the pogrom. So, the women were damned likely to be raped by the Cossacks. Sooner or later, the pogrom was coming.

I would bore you by going into detail on the psychological paradigm that this creates. I'll leave you to figure it out yourself.

shoutingthomas said...

So, Ann, Dylan's sexual and marital morality is all about responding to the trauma of the experience of the Eastern European Jew.

And, the post World War II period was all about trying to resolve the brutal psychological trauma of the Holocaust.

deborah said...

Love Dylan's music. For those who like Reggae, check out this Dylan tribute album:

Is It Rolling Bob?

Scroll down for samples.

What did everyone think of his Christmas album last year?

Ann Althouse said...

Freeman Hunt said..."The humorous thing about "It Ain't Me Babe" is that it conflates totally unreasonable demands with basic demands of traditional marriage, and perhaps he does think traditional marriage is totally unreasonable. This is the thinking that inspired my last comment."

This is a great point, and I made a mistake in not seeing it when I was young. I wonder if there was a song that presented an appropriate and compelling version of traditional marriage. The closest I can think of is "Wouldn't It Be Nice?"

edutcher said: "You can make a case for the idea it's an anthem for one-night stands. The *less* relationship he talks about strikes me as something that is sex-only with no real commitment of any kind, no caring or support; the sort of thing you'd expect from double-aught-whatshisname. It may have seemed liberating at the time, but, sentimental slob that I am, it wouldn't have interested me."

No, you're mixing up where the "less" is. He rejects the woman's desire for "a lover for your life and nothing more." That is "lover for life" is less. There's something "more" which he offers. It is not just a rejection of relationships. It's reaching higher for a better relationship that isn't about guarantees of devotion and support.

RobertL said...

What we used to listen to were "sides" of albums because of the old record changers. I have quite a few of my old favorites that are played through (almost white) on one side, and pristine shiny black on the other.
One of the benefits of CD's is the ability to listen to the entire album all at once....

shoutingthomas said...

Ann, I'll give you one more hint:

The sophistication of the Eastern European Jew seems to the goyim to be a positive acceptance of infidelity and serial monogamy.

It is, in reality, a practical response to the reality that the Jewish woman of pre-World War II Eastern Europe were likely to experience rape and prostitution.

So, men and women have to develop a different concept of morality and marriage to deal with the reality that the women were likely to commit "infidelity."

Remember, in the Old World, rape is a moral taint for women.

Royal Tenenbaum said...

@Ann
"He rejects the woman's desire for "a lover for your life and nothing more." That is "lover for life" is less. There's something "more" which he offers. It is not just a rejection of relationships. It's reaching higher for a better relationship that isn't about guarantees of devotion and support."

I have the impression he's expressing his limitations as a man - that if these are her expectations, then she better move on because he just can't live up to them.

Ann Althouse said...

"I have the impression he's expressing his limitations as a man - that if these are her expectations, then she better move on because he just can't live up to them."

I disagree. He's putting her down for being conventional. He's not self-deprecating or defensive. He is on the attack.

jr565 said...

I base all my relationships on The Mighty Quinn lyrics. Don't actually know the words, but do know there chorus. "Come on without, come on within. You might do something (can't make out words) with the Mighty Quinn".
Such profundity has shaped all of my relationships going forward. Thanks Mighty Quinn.

I also was partial to Tweeter and the Monkey Man who was in love with Jan, the sister of the Undercover cop. That too, speaks volumes about the romantic condition, maybe even more than Byron and Keats.

Ann Althouse said...

"What we used to listen to were "sides" of albums because of the old record changers."

In my day, it was considered screwed up to put albums on a record changer. Something your parents might cluelessly do.

Decent stereos of the 60s and 70s didn't have turntables with changers.

But we did have favorite sides to albums and we didn't always play both sides. One side or the other maybe. There was an arc to each side. The last song on the first side was important.

madawaskan said...

Man did I LOATHE -The Who.

Tommy -that frekin' weird movie!

Gawd!

About the only cure for that is


Dark Side of the Moon.

madawaskan said...

Althouse-

Time to stop letting Dylan live rent free inside your head.

shoutingthomas said...

And this is why I'd run away.

You're confusing the reaction of Jews to the most traumatic experience in human history with a positive expression of a moral system.

The reason: that old saw of the 60s... moral authenticity.

If you were a poor white rural kid like me, the left tagged you as the enemy. My struggles and suffering were of no importance because I was assumed to be sympathetic to the Klan.

If you were an upper middle class white suburban kid like you, you got tagged by the left as "inauthentic." Everybody else was first in line for sympathy, and Jews and blacks were at the top of the list.

I think this is why you hold on so determinedly to feminism, although the real battle was short and was over decades ago. It gives you authenticity. It makes your struggles and sufferings authentic.

I'm in a different category altogether. As a Christian white guy from poor white trash small town, my struggles and suffering will never have any currency. Nobody gives a shit and nobody ever will.

Dylan's all about this romantic attachment to these issues.

jr565 said...

I had to hear Dylan through The Byrds to appreciate Dylan. Chimes Of Freedom done with The Byrds harmonies and chiming guitars is a glorious sounding thing. Dylan singing it, not so much.

Though, I do like some of Dylan's songs that are more sparsely arranged which suit his vocal delivery) I can't sign on board as being a Dylan FAN. All props to his role as a folk rock hero. There's just not that much need for me to seek out his music at this point (and seriously, does anyone realy need to hear Blowin In the Wind or treacle like that ever again?)

Triangle Man said...

...basic demands of traditional marriage...The closest I can think of is "Wouldn't It Be Nice?"

The Wedding Song if one views marriage as a primarily spiritual affair.

Triangle Man said...

Dang! I should have posted an Amazon link to that song using your referral number. Sorry.

A year and a half into the current round of furloughs, and I hear rumors that the next budget may contain deeper furloughs. Every little bit will help.

k*thy said...

I can't speak to anything Dylan, but made an album-observation over Thanksgiving...my 23 year old found 4 milk crates with my old albums, down in the basement. Before taking those, and the turntable back up to Minneapolis with her, she and her boyfriend sat on the living room floor and went through and we examined each one. Some classics, some not so much.

We touched on a lot of stories and memories that came up. What was fun was going back in time to how we listened to music. It was quite a time warp I sat through.

SteveR said...

I'm of an age where albums and in particular album sides, defined my musical experience. It is often the case when listening to a song of my era on my IPod that I will regret the missing tracks which made up the album side of its origin. Whereas side two of Who's Next might be more popular, side one was never not great. Side two of LZ IV would get you Stairwat to Heaven but so could the radio nearly everyday, but side one would get you Going to California.

BJM said...

Althouse, "Highway 61 Revisited" was that Dylan album for me...but then I hated 60's folk music.

"Songs Of Leonard Cohen" was the album that spoke to me as a young woman. I often think that Dylan and Cohen are different sides of the same coin.

BJM said...

@shoutingthomas

I was raised in a small white hick town in the central valley where we had both types of music; country and western. Which I think is why I hated folk music, it's just C&W dressed up for guilt ridden white elites. So I get where you're coming from in that respect.

However, my mom worked in Oakland during war while dad was overseas and they had a collection of R&B, blues and jazz records, so I was primed for Dylan.

rhhardin said...

CD albums are one good track that you bought the thing for and eleven tracks of the band noodling around.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I almost always listen to music in album form. If an artist can't make an entire album I'm interested in, why listen to individual songs they produce?

William said...

I always thought that Johnny Cash had the best version. It didn't sound so whiny. More like an adult contemplating the end of a dead relationship. I liked the Dylan version when it first came out. But it's like an announcement of bankruptcy--the singer can only pay ten cents on the dollar for all his emotional debts. I sensed an element of adolescent inadequacy in his version, but maybe I was just projecting.....Johnny Cash had the best old man's singing voice ever. There were cracks and King Lear stumbles away from the melody, but he seemed to think that there was something worth singing about....

Jason (the commenter) said...

I think this is the best $5 album on the list. I'm listening to it right now!

sonicfrog said...

Jason... BOLD! I like it. Kudo's on that choice!

Another strong album from top to bottom would be REM's Automatic For The People.

Clyde said...

I'll throw one out there:

Warren Zevon's Transverse City

This one could have been the soundtrack for the movie treatment of an early William Gibson novel. I have the whole Zevon catalog on my iPod and this is a perennial favorite.

Bob_R said...

Looking at a Dylan love song as a coherent guide for relationships is like looking at Van Gogh's Starry Night as a guide to astronomy.

Kirk Parker said...

Althouse,

"It's reaching higher for a better relationship that isn't about guarantees of devotion and support."

Other than you can't get there from her, sure.


jr,

Dude, that's:

"Come all without, come all within,
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn."

Kirk Parker said...

Oops, that should of course read "can't get there from here"!


WV: kebump - things that go kebump in the night.

Royal Tenenbaum said...

@Ann:
"I disagree. He's putting her down for being conventional. He's not self-deprecating or defensive. He is on the attack."

I respectfully disagree on this one. He isn't judging or "putting down" her "conventional" values. In fact, there really isn't any language that expresses judgment as to what she believes. (Maybe if he said it's not for me then I'd agree...)

Moreover, I just don't see where the attack is. He's not telling her to leave because of her beliefs, but because he's not the one that can live up to those expectations.

But you're right, he's not being self-deprecating or defensive. He just accepts the fact and lets her know.

In fact, he's giving her the "it's not you, it's me."

Or perhaps it's the old "I'm trouble, leave me alone."

Freeman Hunt said...

CD albums are one good track that you bought the thing for and eleven tracks of the band noodling around.

Yes.

Palladian said...

Jason, that's a great choice.

I listen to a lot of baroque, classical, and early music so the idea of grouping things into albums doesn't always apply. I have favorite movements of pieces, but I usually always listen to the whole composition. Some classical producers understood the value of the album construct. Glenn Gould, who was extremely interested in what could be done with the medium of recording often juxtaposed very different works on his records, with the goal of making the albums amount to musical statements, like this one, where he put Mozart's 24th piano concerto on one side and Arnold Schoenberg's op. 42 piano concerto on the other.

I'm an album listener when it comes to pop music. Here's an album that had a great influence on me.

jr565 said...

Ann Althouse wrote:
But Dylan is making an argument that the woman who wants a serious committed lifetime relationship is small-minded and looking for something that is actually *less* that the new kind of relationship Dylan represents.

Yeah, and Dylan, in real life beat his wife. IS that the new kind of relationship he represents?
In the case of the song It Ain't Me Babe he's telling the girl to get lost. If you notice, he actually has someone over at his house that he's fucking while the girl who wants a commitment from him is lurking at his window.
Go melt back into the night, babe
Everything inside is made of stone
There’s nothing in here moving
An’ anyway I’m not alone

He's not alone because he has another girl. So the new kind of relationship that Dylan represents is kicking the girl to the curb if she expects any sort of commitment from him. His new type of relationship is to be the girl that he has sex with, among the other grils he also has sex with, or get lost because his heart is closed to her and he could give two shits.

jr565 said...

Actuallly if you look at the two songs as bookends you might think that Dylan is actually kind of selfish with his friendships. He doesn't want anything from her except to be her friend. But what does that mean? He doesn't even want to meet her kin, or share things with her. And when she gets too close and wants a commitment, maybe not even as a lover but as a friend he basically tells her to get away from his window as he has no use for her. That's a friendship only on his terms. It's convenient for him to only have friends when he wants them and only on his terms, but most friends would call a person like that a flake or an asshole. Or, not a friend.

sonicfrog said...

If you want a good "bookends" album, try Duke by Genesis....

Or, Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel!

Mr. Forward said...

The song that had the most effect on the structure of my brain and my life is this one.

"Born on a mountain top in Tennessee
The greenest state in the land of the free
Raised in the woods so's he knew ev'ry tree
Kilt him a b'ar when he was only three
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier"

Kirk Parker said...

Mr. Forward,

NOW we're talking! :-)


However... ahem. With all due respect, and all that: the only way they could describe Tennessee as the "greenest state" is because they hadn't settled Washington yet.


Just sayin'.

Clyde said...

Looking through the $5 MP3 download albums, there's some pretty good stuff in there. The Cars' debut album is an all-time classic, although I have the deluxe 2-CD set on that one (with a second disc of demos/live performances for every song on the original album). Another good one is the Gram Parson's G.P. album. I recently bought the two-disc combination CD that included both G.P. and Grievous Angel, and I really like it. Great harmonies by Emmylou Harris on most of the songs. Highly recommended for Americana/alt-country fans.

Clyde said...

Clarification: That last CD I mentioned was two albums on one CD.