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Old 07-24-2009, 04:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 100 Essays on 100 Albums: A Journey Through Music and Life

Foreward

This is without a doubt the most ambitious writing project I've ever undertaken. In terms of the body of work and reviews I've produced on this forum, this will be my magnum opus. In essence, it's 100 essays on 100 albums, each by a different artist.

Basically, I haven't been reviewing as many albums as I used to because I found I was being too much of a Brent DiCrescenzo. See, I guarantee you nobody would have had a problem with his work if he simply didn't call them reviews and instead put out his own articles and essays on music.

These essays won't be reviews, but I will be talking about the album in a general sense, as well as the band but most importantly I will be exploring the themes in each album as well as the memories and feelings these albums evoke in my mind. Basically, if you're familiar with the brilliant essays of David Foster Wallace and the writings of Hunter S. Thompson, journalistic efforts and their essays end up being about them.

Some of these won't even be essays. They could be short stories, anecdotes, and maybe some poetry thrown in. But rest assured, every essay will connect to the album.

Another thing I'm doing is I'm imposing a minimum word length for each of my pieces. 750 words minimum. That means a total of 75,000 words minimum, which is the equivalent of a 250+ page novel. If everything goes according to plan and life doesn't present any major obstacles, I'm pretty sure this will be the largest series of writing any of us have ever done on this forum, at least in terms of sheer length. My goal is to make it the highest quality series of writings as well, of course that's totally subjective. Shoot for the moon, landing in the stars, you get the gist. I hope I don't sound too pretentious, but alas dear reader, you shall be the sole judge of that.


And now I will give you a list of the albums I will be writing about, in order, and if I have a planned topic/theme regarding it. For now I'll only reveal the first ten, just to demonstrate what I'm trying to do.

Table of Contents

1. On Fire – Galaxie 500 --- "Albums as pieces of a puzzle to make someone whole"
2. Funeral – Arcade Fire --- "Funerals, death, and questions about the meaning of it all"
3. In the Aeroplane over the Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel --- "Based on a Steven Erikson quote which basically says the total sum of human history is summed up in the quote 'children are dying'"
4. Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan --- "Regarding Bob Dylan, and the issue of identity within all of us"
5. London Calling – The Clash "Revolution"
6. Daydream Nation – Sonic Youth ---"About a jaded and numb generation corrupted by media"
7. Remain in Light – Talking Heads --- "America and the American dream"
8. The Beatles(The White Album) – The Beatles --- "How the relationships between people deteriorate, using The Beatles as an example"
9. Exile on Main Street – The Rolling Stones --- "The meaning of Rock n Roll"
10. 69 Love Songs – Magnetic Fields --- "Love and it's many forms"
11. Kid A – Radiohead
12. Entertainment! – Gang of Four
13. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars – David Bowie
14. Perfect from Now On – Built To Spill
15. Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
16. Trans-Europe Express – Kraftwerk
17. The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground
18. Let It Be – The Replacements
19. Bee Thousand – Guided by Voices
20. Odessy and Oracle – The Zombies
21. Maggot Brain – Funkadelic
22. Loveless – My Bloody Valentine
23. Nevermind – Nirvana
24. Marquee Moon – Television
25. Slanted and Enchanted – Pavement
26. Deceit – This Heat
27. F# A# Infinity – Godspeed You Black Emperor!
28. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
29. Is This It – The Strokes
30. Songs of Love and Hate – Leonard Cohen
31. Ambient 1: Music For Airports – Brian Eno
32. Siamese Dream – Smashing Pumpkins
33. White Blood Cells – The White Stripes
34. Spiderland – Slint
35. Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
36. In The Attic of the Universe – The Antlers
37. Repeater – Fugazi
38. Parallel Lines – Blondie
39. The Cars – The Cars
40. Zen Arcade – Husker Du
41. Pink Moon – Nick Drake
42. Merriweather Post Pavilion – Animal Collective
43. Dear Science – TV on the Radio
44. Weezer(The Blue Album) – Weezer
45. Tago Mago – Can
46. IV – Led Zeppelin
47. Who's Next – The Who
48. Blue – Joni Mitchell
49. Radio City – Big Star
50. My Aim Is True – Elvis Costello
51. This Nation's Saving Grace – The Fall
52. ...Endtroducing – DJ Shadow
53. The Perfect Prescription – Spacemen 3
54. Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys
55. Are You Experienced – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
56. First Utterance – Comus
57. Chairs Missing – Wire
58. Double Nickels on the Dime – The Minutemen
59. Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! - Devo
60. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – Wilco
61. Kaleidoscope World – The Chills
62. Black Monk Time – The Monks
63. Unknown Pleasures – Joy Division
64. Histoire de Melody Nelson – Serge Gainsbourg
65. Sail Away – Randy Newman
66. Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? - Of Montreal
67. Starsailor – Tim Buckley
68. In The Court of the Crimson King – King Crimson
69. The Queen Is Dead – The Smiths
70. The Joshua Tree – U2
71. Psychocandy – The Jesus and Mary Chain
72. No New York – Various Artists
73. Nebraska – Bruce Springsteen
74. Dire Straits – Dire Straits
75. Second Edition – Public Image Ltd.
76. Crazy Rhythms – The Feelies
77. Sonic Boom – The Sonics
78. Dust Bowl Ballads – Woody Guthrie
79. Forever Changes – Love
80. Surfer Rosa – Pixies
81. Kind of Blue – Miles Davis
82. The Sun Sessions – Elvis Presley
83. King of the Delta Blues – Robert Johnson
84. What's Going On - Marvin G.aye
85. There's a Riot Goin' On – Sly and the Family Stone
86. Ramones – The Ramones
87. Horses – Patti Smith
88. Legend – Bob Marley
89. Turnstiles – Billy Joel
90. Straight Outta Compton – NWA
91. Electric Warrior – T.Rex
92. Automatic for the People – REM
93. Tea For The Tillerman – Cat Stevens
94. Kinda Kinks – The Kinks
95. Los Angeles – X
96. Kick Out The Jams – MC5
97. The Soft Bulletin – The Flaming Lips
98. Laughing Stock – Talk Talk
99. The Three EP's – The Beta Band
100. 1990 – Daniel Johnston

And finally, don't wish me luck, wish me determination, I'm going to need that a hell of a lot more
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Old 07-24-2009, 04:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I must like at least 90% of the albums you listed so this looks like it'll be an interesting for me.
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Old 07-24-2009, 04:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Sounds really interesting (I'm probably at about 95%) but please note

*Nothing is more pretentious than addressing your readers as Dear Reader.
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Old 07-24-2009, 05:01 PM   #4 (permalink)
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'On Fire' by Galaxie 500 (1989)



The concept of a 'soul mate' is something that penetrates the very fabric of our collective consciousness, because in this age of science and secularism, most people try to find salvation through love. And love goes hand in hand with the idea everyone has a soul mate. Some may find it trite and some may even be so bold as to claim the search to be futile, but after hearing this album I can safely say that everyone's musical taste is like a puzzle, but instead of receiving every piece of the puzzle upon purchase, you have to frantically search a sonic wonderland on a crazed scavenger hunt until you find all the pieces to make you whole, at least, musically. You see, the music that sticks with us and become pieces of our puzzles are the ones we find in our adolescent years all the way through our early to mid-twenties. The music you are into and the music that will affect you most throughout life will be the music you find in that time period. It's almost like a race against time. I heartily recommend you find as many puzzle pieces as you can. You'll thank yourself for going down the rabbit hole.

'On Fire' is one of the many albums I can safely say is one of my pieces to the puzzle, and I'm ecstatic that I found it when I did. It's a sad and bittersweet work of art with beautiful echoing guitars. The guitars especially evoked a sense that this band was on a mission, and it reminded me of Built To Spill in their seminal work, 'Perfect From Now On.'

I find it interesting that the title track and one of the best tracks is called 'Blue Thunder.' Let's analyze that for a second. Blue, let's say it's a synonym for sad. Sad Thunder. Thunder, it's the sound lightning makes, after it strikes. And a lightning bolt, well, it's been described as fire from the heavens. Interesting how the title of the album is called 'On Fire.'

The vocals throughout the album sound as though they've been buried inside the mix, the lyrics seemingly unimportant, voice being used as a melody instrument and to convey a certain mood. And what better instrument to convey emotion than the voice? And does it ever convey a mood. Depression. Alienation. Yet, Redemption as well. Hope. Perhaps the best example of the mood this album and the themes it establishes in it's lyrics, is in the fourth track, 'Strange'

Why's everybody actin' funny?
Why's everybody look so strange?
Why's everybody look so nasty?
What do I want with all these things?

I went alone down to the drugstore
I went in back and took a Coke
I stood in line and ate my Twinkies
I stood in line, I had to wait

Why's everybody actin funny?
Why's everybody look so strange?
Why's everybody look so pretty?
What do I want with all these things?

I went alone down to the drugstore
I went in back and took a Coke
I stood in line and ate my Twinkies
I stood in line, I had to wait

How does music fit into our lives? More than any other medium, music can affect us on a pure emotional and visceral way. Within a heartbeat, images, concepts and moods are conveyed and flood into your mind. Music can instantly make you feel differently. There's something animal to it, like being hypnotized by a snake charmer.

Can the aforementioned puzzle ever be whole? Sometimes I feel like Ahab, navigating the seas in an endless pursuit of that white whale. But in a way, I don't ever want to find the white whale. Because I don't think it's something that can be caught. You just try and do the best you can. And honestly, could any music lover ever comprehend the concept of “OK, I've found what I'm looking for, I can stop now.” I don't know what I'd do with myself if I ever found it. Insanity seems the most likely result. If the puzzle can never be whole, then why even try and find the pieces then? Maybe it's something within us that we have to do. An insane drive. Maybe each of us has a little slice of insanity. Insanity doesn't seem like the right word. Obsession.

Maybe we do it to bring a bit of clarity to the puzzle.

The lyrics of the final track sum things up quite nicely. Though they may seem a bit clichιd on paper, they are sung with such effortless sincerity it seems foolish to doubt the truth behind the words.

Isn't it a pity
Isn't it a shame
How we break each other's hearts
And cause each other pain?
How we take each other's love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn't it a pity?

Some things take so long
And how do I explain?
But not too many people
Can see we're all the same
And because of all their tears
Their eyes can't hope to see
The beauty that surrounds them
Oh isn't it a pity?

Isn't it a pity
Isn't it a shame
How we break each other's hearts
And cause each other pain?
How we take each other's love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn't it a pity?

Forgetting to give back
Isn't it a pity?
Forgetting to give back
Isn't it a pity?

What a pity
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Old 07-24-2009, 05:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Well you at least have your plan outlined for yourself! Now all that's left is the typing. Get to it champ! * plays Eye of the Tiger*
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Old 07-24-2009, 05:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Interesting slant on the list concept you've got going here. Quite a lot of albums I like on this list too. I'll be keeping an eye on this one.
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Old 07-24-2009, 05:42 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Know most on this list as well, especially looking forward to essays on the first Cars and Devo albums, even today both still sound outstanding and probably for me the 2 definitive American new wave albums.
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Old 07-24-2009, 07:58 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Some really great albums here. I look forward to following this thread.
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Old 07-24-2009, 08:37 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urban Hatemonger View Post
I must like at least 90% of the albums you listed so this looks like it'll be an interesting for me.
samesies.

plenty of interesting choices mixed in with the classics that everybody knows, should be interesting to see how this thread plays out.

good luck.
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Old 07-24-2009, 10:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Good luck, I really like your essays!
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