All of my life I've been a music lover. I grew up on my dad's 45s and LPs which ranged from The Beatles, to CCR, to early Elton John, with a mix of easier listening stuff largely of my mom's tastes for the Mamas and Papas to the Carpenters. Those records really instilled the importance of melody, great vocals, and pop hooks in me.
In spite of this great love for music, I never had the discipline in my youth to try to learn an instrument. I'd been given a guitar as a little kid but never really knew what to do with it. Visits to my grandma yielded many hours plunking around on her piano. I was pretty mesmerized by the patterns of the keys, but again, never really had the wherewithal or discipline to ask for my own or take lessons.
Yet, music has been a lifelong love and as a mature adult one of the things that I find most interesting is the ways that music can effect the listener on a psychological level. I'm assuming all people have those chills when they hear some line or some melody. For me, it could be that last third of Karma Police by Radiohead, or a solo piano piece from Philip Glass like Wichita Sutra Vortex.
That interest in the psychological impact of certain music led me to a few books on the subject such as John Powell's, "Why you love music : from Mozart to Metallica -- the emotional power of beautiful sounds," and, "Everything in its Right Place: Analyzing Radiohead." You can tell I'm a Radiohead fan right? Indeed, it was this interest that led me to Rick Beato's YouTube Channel, with his series of "What Makes This Song Great." After going down the rabbit hole of his videos, which were a quirky hodgepodge of songs, from Toto, to Kansas, to Coldplay, and (of course) Radiohead, I found that while he sometimes alluded to the emotional and psychological impact that the music might have on the listener, his focus tended to be on the production and musicianship, a whole other fascinating arena that gives me a new appreciation for music. Beato's other videos, can be fascinating as well, which is what inspired me after so many years, buy a decent guitar (the above photo is my new Fender Telecaster) and committing myself to actually learning the instrument. While I have no illusions about being a great musician, I do love it and am enjoying pushing my brain, and fingers, in new ways. Hats off to Beato for that!
All this is leading up to the beginnings of what I hope to be a series of posts on albums I consider examples of perfection. In one of the many videos of Beato's I watched he made some offhand remark about one day doing a video on "perfect" albums. I thought that was a first class idea and it led me to brainstorming a list of what albums I might include on such a list.
But what is a perfect album? Is there such a thing? Even something as seminal as Abbey Road has imperfections right? As Leonard Cohen would say, "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." Perhaps there is no perfect record but there are some that are damn close to it and even the little cracks in that perfection make us music lovers appreciate them even more. In the upcoming weeks and months I plan to unveil my selection of "perfect" albums. I hope others will enjoy my thoughts on these albums, from the obscure ones to the well known entries on the list. Coming soon....
For over 12 Years I wrote the Reno Rambler Blog covering everything from Bicycle Advocacy, Reno Politics, Popular Culture, and my experiences as a long-time cyclist.