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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Albums of My Teenhood


Someone on Facebook has a chain letter-chain posting going in which folks are supposed to list the albums that were important to them as a teenager.

Okay, for what it’s worth, here are mine.

Lightfoot! His first, and still his best, album. With great bass by Bill Lee. I was a bassist.

Songs of Leonard Cohen Hit me where I lived. I lived a couple of blocks away from Cohen’s boyhood home, and took the same route home from school. He was a local boy. Introduced to Cohen by Nick Economides, who was older and whom I looked up to for his sophistication.

Songs from a Room. Neither this nor his first are his best albums. But these are the ones from my teenage years. "Nancy," "Tonight Will Be Fine." I remember listening to "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes" on the porch with Violet Birch.

Birds, Fifth Dimension. One of the first three albums I bought, in a batch. It wore better than the others. Bought all the Byrds albums following it too. Tempted to put some others on the list. They were probably better albums, but as my first exposure, 5D is the one that influenced me the most.

Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited. First got to know it because a neighbourhood kid, Bob White, held dances where he used to play it. The strategy, all the guys knew, was to ask your favourite girl for “Desolation Row” for a long slow dance where you got to hold her close. Then I started listening to the lyrics. Trying to dance to Dylan was ridiculous. "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry," was my favourite for a long time.

Bringing it All Back Home. I bought it after Highway 61. Almost as good.

Blonde on Blonde. It was a disappointment at first. But it grew and grew on me.

Peter Paul and Mary, See What Tomorrow Brings. A lot of great songs. Among other things, the album I listened to after my first real girlfriend broke up with me. My sister and I learned to sing harmony on Betty and Dupree.

Joni Mitchell, Blue, Not my album. My brother was the bigger Joni Mitchell fan. But this one was relly great. Humming “Carey” was the only thing that got me through one summer working in a plastics factory. But “River” and “All I Want” were even better.

Planxty. Bought when I was living in Ottawa. Perhaps the greatest album ever recorded by anyone.

Steeleye Span Please to See the King, Picked up second hand in a bargain bin. Yow!

The Band Music from Big Pink. Another album that seemed to change everything.

Moby Grape. Tipped off on this one by Hit Parader magazine—a great publication. Crazy good.

Rolling Stones, High Tide and Green Grass. Not my album. Was playing in a kid rock and roll band, and a couple of my bandmates were crazy about the Stones. I think Louis Lapierre owned the album. Did not especially like the music then—it was just the most fun to play on stage. But it has grown on me ever since. The Stones get better and better with time.

Ian and Sylvia Four Strong Winds. I love all their stuff, but this I think was where I came in. I cannot ever get “V’la le Bon Vent” out of my mind. Nor would I ever want to. Let alone the title track. Or “Royal Canal,” which oddly always reminds me of Kingston, with the canal and the penitentiary.

Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed and Beggar's Banquet.  These were like the soundtrack to Inscape, the Catholic teenagers' drop-in in Gananoque, the brainchild of Father Ed Shea. "Gimme Shelter."


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