Friday, September 2, 2011

My favorite music year

Periodically The Onion AV Club runs a recurring feature called 'My Favorite Music Year.' In this feature one of their staff writers rhapsodizes about the year a bunch of the favorite music came out. This is my take on that feature.

My favorite music year was 1978. But don't think I'm stuck in 1978, I enjoy new music and I'm constantly on the prowl for new bands and singers to enjoy. However, in 1978 some of the albums that shaped who I am today came out.

Among them was this album:
Smart, funny, deeply acerbic, and musically brilliant are just a few ways to describe the late Warren Zevon. I had already come to know about him through is session work for Linda Ronstadt who I adored at that time. This album had his biggest hit Werewolves of London on it, and it was deservedly a hit but to me Excitable Boy and Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner were even better songs. Mr Zevon died a few years back and there's been a void in our music scene ever since.
I've written how this album changed my life before on this blog and if you want to root around through my archives you can read about it. This album came out when all you heard on the radio was disco, sugary pop songs, and bloated prog rock shit. The music I heard on this album was so totally different, so new, so captivating that it hit me between the eyes like a hammer. It woke me from my late '70's slumber and pointed me in a new direction.

Fronted by every straight 16 year old boy's sexual fantasy, I was 16 in '78, Debbie Harry, Blondie was a breath of fresh air. They had radio friendly hits but they also rocked. And no one was sexier than Ms. Harry. Her breathy vocals made me swoon with teenage desire.

In Elvis Costello I saw someone who looked like me (a geeky gawky guy with huge black horn rimmed glasses) and had issues with women like I did back then (I was desperately shy and when I did make a move on a girl I was usually turned down which made me more self conscious and less likely to try again later). He was all attitude, snarling about lost love, shitty jobs, and had a general sour outlook on things, and I loved it. It was like he was speaking to me about me. It took me many years to fully appreciate this album but I finally do. Like many of his other works, it's classic.

Nick Lowe is the flip side to my Elvis Costello worship. He's more poppy, more fun, and more accessible. I loved his sound, his look, and his production of other rock and roll albums, he produced many of Costello's early albums and his fingerprints are all over many other artists of that time. I didn't come to know this album until many years after it came out, my introduction to Nick was 1979's Labour of Lust. When I finally got this album on cassette, I wore that cassette out from paying it over and over again. Due to fears of a backlash by Christians in this country they changed the name of this album when they released it over here in the USA, they changed it to Pure Pop for Now People. It's a stone cold classic.
On this album Springsteen finally lived up to the hype the press had heaped on him a few years earlier. Gone were the wordy ballads about fucking in the mud, catching the bus while drunk, and hanging out on the boardwalk in New Jersey. In their place were finely crafted songs that didn't take twelve stanzas to tell the story. And the songs were backed by blistering guitars, heavy duty bass lines, and tight drums. I still get a chill when I hear the 'Badlands', 'Adam Raised a Cain', and 'Prove it all Night.'

Other seminal albums that I love that were released in 1978 include:
Waylon & Willie (Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson), Easter (Patti Smith Group), Squeeze (Squeeze), FM Soundtrack (various artists), Street Legal (Bob Dylan), Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel), Some Girls (Rolling Stones), More Songs About Buildings and Food (Talking Heads), Who Are You? (The Who), One Nation Under a Groove (Funkadelic), Time Passages (Al Stewart), Dire Straits (Dire Straits), Outlandos d'Amour (The Police), Give 'em Enough Rope (The Clash), and Midnight Oil (Midnight Oil).

I could have just as easily went with 1979 but for the fact the Blondie and Springsteen released their classic albums in 1978.

What's your favorite music year?


kirby said...

I remember sitting in art class listening to Damien What'shisname arguing with someone else about how Heart was a much better band than The Clash. I also remember making a mental note to never, ever have sex with Damien.

Brian Busby said...

Don't know that I can pick a favourite year, but I do know my favourite album of 1978: Neil Young's Comes a Time.

I like it even more than Give 'em Enough Rope - which is saying a lot.

Ole Phat Stu said...


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Damn that WAS a good music year, wasn't it? 2009 was great too.

Lisa said...

What a great year for music. I'm glad I was around for it.