My Music Education Project

Truth:  Even though I’ve been a musician my whole life, I don’t listen to a lot of music.  Never have. Mostly because I always have music playing in my head, so sometimes I really can’t because it sounds like two radios playing at once.  Yuck.

In school, I was trained in Classical music.  The history of it, where it came from, how it evolved, branched out, church vs. secular and all that… but I never studied rock music.  Or really any modern music outside of the “played-by-a-symphony” area.  Mainly because I never planned on being a rock musician.  Funny how that worked out.  (Now I know why I felt like I never quite fit in.  Haha – retrospect is awesome. )

So, recently I decided that I wanted to educate myself since this is my career and all, so I poked around online and from several different places put together a list of the 100 “greatest albums of all time” that I want to listen to before my birthday – which is September 17th, by the way.  Gifts are always welcome.  🙂

To give you an idea – out of “100 of the best records of all time” (according to whomever – you gotta start somewhere, right?) I had only heard six.  Yup, 6.  Three of them I decided I wanted to listen to again because I really didn’t remember much about them.  Two of them I wanted to listen to again because I love them.  Only one of them I don’t have to listen to because it is already a part of my regular music rotation – That would be Abbey Road, by The Beatles.

I’m not listening to them in any particular order, and I’m not reading up on anything before I listen.  I don’t want to hear anyone else’s opinion as to WHY these are the greatest albums ever.  I will listen and form my own opinion first, and if I’m inspired to learn more after listening, then super-duper.  Because seriously, I know nothing.  At all.  It’s embarrassing.   I do this for a living and I know nothing about this stuff.  9 times out of 10 I’m more interested in how music makes me FEEL, rather than picking it apart and analyzing it.   I can pick it apart and analyze it – and if it really grabs my attention that is exactly what I’ll do with it.  But mainly, I’m hoping to discover all on my own what I really like.  And what I really don’t.

I’m already surprised by what I’m finding – hence the entry.  I decided I wanted to keep track of my thoughts while I’m doing this project – where better than here on the internets.   So here’s where I am so far…

The Beatles: Abbey Road
Well yeah.  Of course.  I freaking love this record.  I had it on repeat for about 4 months at one point.  I don’t really have one favorite song on the album because I really like it as a whole.  Which for me is really rare.  If I hear one song from it I want to hear the whole thing.  Gimmie.

The Beatles: Rubber Soul
First time listen.  This is now my second favorite Beatles record.  This one however, I can take in pieces.  I’m Looking Through You I actually listened to twice.  That’s probably not a surprise considering my life at the moment, but there you go…

Neil Young: Harvest
First time listen.  I really liked this album, which surprised me because I don’t entirely love Neil Young’s voice.  It made me daydream, which for me is a good thing.  I put a star next to this one because I want to listen to it more.  But, I still have 97 to go, so moving on…

The Beatles: Revolver
First time listen.  I like it, but I like Rubber Soul and Abbey Road better. There are a good handful of Beatles albums on this list, so I listened to a lot of Beatles yesterday.  I just got on a roll.  And I do love me some sitar.  And I do love me some Eleanor Rigby, but overall it’s not my favorite.

The Beatles: White Album
I owned this one already.  It’s one of the few I’ve heard before, but I listened to the whole thing again.  Which reminded me that I really need to be in the right mood for this album.  It’s brilliant, but emotionally taxing.  I have to be in a space where I want to be mentally challenged.  If I listen to this album all the way through non-stop I’m quite tired by the end.  It really takes it out of me.

Joni Mitchell: Blue
Ms. Mitchell is one of those artists that I always meant to listen to, but never got around to.  So I was super excited to pull this one up and dive in.  And wow.  I do not like her voice at all.  Which really surprised me and made me sad.  I had to turn it off a few times to take a break and the album is only 36 minutes long.  HOWEVER – I do love her songwriting style.  A lot, actually.  It’s very bard-like. I find it really fascinating and I want to learn more, but will have to do it in small doses.  River was my fav on this album.  I will pull up other albums of hers as well after this project to see if it’s just this record that bothered me.

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin
First time listen.  Here’s something I’ve discovered.  I freaking love Led Zeppelin.  Love. Them.  Which shocked the hell out of me, because when I first really heard them back in high school, I didn’t.   I don’t know why, exactly.  Maybe because I was so immersed at that time in my life in classical music it was too different – too foreign?  Maybe my ears didn’t know what to do with it?  But my god, now?  I hear those guitar riffs and my whole body just says “YESSSSS -THANK YOU”.  So anyway – what surprised me about this particular album is that it’s their first one and it sounds just as solidified as their later albums.  Like, yes.  This is how we sounded.  From the beginning of time.  We didn’t have to “discover” ourselves.  Our sound didn’t have to “evolve”. Fuck you.  We’re Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin II
Already owned this one.  Also wik.

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin IV
Already owned this one too.  Also also wik.  When the Levee Breaks – all of the yes.  All of it.

Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon
Sort of a first time listen?  Meaning while I know most of the songs on this album I don’t think I ever just turned it on and listened to the whole thing in one go, so that’s what I did.  LOVE.  Super love.  Want more.  Gimmie.  Nerdy.  Delicious.  Daydreamy.  Gimmie gimmie.  Yes yes.

Patti Smith: Horses
First time listen.  Um.  okay.  There are only 4 women on this list to begin with (which is another topic all together) and after the whole Joni Mitchell sadness, I went into this record with no expectations at all.  You know what I knew about Patti Smith before I listened to this?  Her name.  That’s all.  (Don’t be judgey.  That’s why I’m doing this – to learn)

Holy shitballs.  I don’t even know how I feel about this.  Take rock/punk and free form poetry and shove them in a room together after staying awake for 4 days straight.  I was uncomfortable, but I couldn’t stop listening.  So. Uncomfortable.  I don’t even know what just happened.  I…I… wow.  I may have to get back to you on this one.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced
This is the last of the “I mostly knew this” albums.  My tennis partner in high school and I used to listen to this at full volume with the windows down as we drove between meets.  Or anywhere else for that matter.  While downing ridiculous amounts of Mountain Dew, and trying to cover our tennis whites with oversized flannels or inside out sweatshirts and feeling superior when we wiped the courts with those snooty private-school girls wearing team color ribbons in their hair.  Damn the man.  (How did I not know I was a rocker chick?  Good lord.)  I hadn’t really listened to this in years.  And after listening again this week, I think that we only played the first side of the album.  (cassette tape in the car) Tracks 12-17 I felt like I had never heard before.  Is that true?   Huh.  Similar to the White Album, I have to be in the right mood for this.  The tracks I’m familiar with I sing along to, but the more experimental they get, it becomes a lot of mental work for me.  Which is awesome when that’s what I’m looking for.

I think that’s all of them for now – There will be more of these.  Hope they don’t bore you to death.


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