First Album Love

Whenever I find an artist, I always look through their entire catalogue, afraid that I missed something pivotal.

But I always end up coming back to the first album I heard by them. Even when I know it isn’t their best work, it still manages to be my favorite.

Case in point?

Alkaline Trio – Crimson
Social Distortion – White Light, White Heat, White Trash 
Rancid – Indestructible 
AFI – Sing the Sorrow
NOFX – The War on Errorism
Every Time I Die – The Big Dirty
New Found GlorySticks and Stones
The Black Keys – Magic Potion
Against Me! – Searching for a Former Clarity

Okay, I think I made it clear.

For some reason, there’s a thrill and memory associated with when you fell in love with an artist. Even if, in your heart, you know it isn’t their best work, the first album you hear will always shine brightest. Some of my best memories were made listening to these cds. I still remember being in middle school and buying, White Light, White Heat, White Trash at FYE and listening to it on my Walkman in the car on the way home. I was so excited to hear those songs, and to find a new sound that I’d never known – a sound that no one around me in suburban Indiana had known.

That sparked my love of Social Distortion, who were my favorite band for years. I even remember going to see them in concert and teachers from my high school were at the show. We had more in common than we’d initially realized, and even though they were my instructors, I considered them friends.

I can pinpoint the moment I heard the opening riff to “No Son of Mine,” from Every Time I Die’s The Big Dirty. The same car trip that inspired my love of ETID fueled my passion for Against Me!. I was on a trip to Bloomington to suss out IU with some friends, and they played Searching for a Former Clarity. “Miami” stuck with me. I can remember subsequently going into Shake It Records to buy copies of both albums, and being ridiculously excited.

A friend burnt Indestructible for me in high school. In all reality, she was a bully that I didn’t really like, but I befriended her to avoid conflict. I asked her to burn cd’s for me that I didn’t have the money to buy. At the time, Tim Armstrong’s voice was worth putting up with her. I listened to that album on repeat while mowing the lawn at home. It was the soundtrack to many a summer sunburn.

As I tried to distance myself from the bully girl, I found myself going to the local library to get albums and burning them to my computer. That’s where I scrounged up Magic Potion and countless others. Surely the librarians knew that when I checked out STACKS of cds, I wasn’t just taking them home to listen to. But they never said anything.

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It’s not like all this pirating was for nefarious reasons. I was a high school kid who was sonically starved and something had to feed that addiction. At least I was nerdy enough to hang out in the library instead of other places.

More than any other, I remember my first New Found Glory album. I’d been bullied A LOT by a jock in middle school. He would harass me virtually every day, and the teacher didn’t do anything. I was angry, hurt and felt violated. My mom knew about it, so when we went to Bigg’s one evening, she bought me Sticks and Stones. She gently asked me if I liked it when I took my headphones off briefly in the car.

Even though I was a shitty, bratty, angry teenager, I appreciated her act of support. She felt helpless watching her daughter be picked on. But she knew what made me feel better and wanted to supply that to me, even if she didn’t fully understand.

The main thing that ties all of these albums together is that they served as different milestones for me. Whether I’m embarrassed to admit that I like those artists or not, I can’t forget the effect that the music had on me. It served as my therapist, my solace, my friend, my ammunition.

I think it’s incredibly important to pay homage to the albums that inspire us and get us through rough spots. There’s no reason to feel sheepish when an artist or album resonates with you. That means there’s a chord to be struck, and not everyone has that depth or emotional awareness.

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Tragic Thrill – Foxy Shazam

When I initially heard this song, I couldn’t have run from it faster. I switched on “Unstoppable,” and rocked back and forth in the fetal position.

After all, this wasn’t the Foxy that we all came to know and love.

I remember seeing Foxy when I was a junior in college and the raw energy they transmitted to the crowd. Eric lit and ate cigarettes on stage and balanced on Alex’s shoulders. Schuyler (Sky) slammed and stomped on his keyboard. Alex had a bravado and swagger that made the trumpet seem badass for the first time since…ever.

They hit the stage with a voracity that made me both concerned for their safety, and left totally in awe after they walked off. Quite frankly, Anberlin didn’t even come close to living up to them. But luckily for me, I hadn’t went for Anberlin. I’d went for Foxy.

Back to Tragic Thrill. It was understated and that scared me. Foxy has ALWAYS been the complete opposite of understated. Immediately to me, it signaled the end. Not in a bad way, but the whole album just seemed to be a more resigned farewell to their audience and the stage. Almost like they needed calm themselves in order to say bye. They didn’t want to go out swinging; they’d already won the fight.

There’s a buildup in the song, though, that leads to a breakthrough of excitement.

“Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting for something. I don’t know what.” As Eric finishes that line, there’s a progressing drumroll that leads into Sky pounding the keyboard and eventually Alex leads into an extended trumpet solo at 3:17. It’s a quieter riot than Foxy usually leads, but still has the same heart.

My point is, this song is what I dive into when I’m in the car alone. It seems perfect for when I’m on Columbia Parkway headed back into downtown. It’s even more fitting if it’s foggy out and overcast. I love riding along the river and seeing the city come into view.

This song is perfect for that: bringing things into view.

The Wedding War

Brandon and I agonized over the music selections for our wedding for MONTHS. We got married in October, so we knew that would have some effect on the music, as it was a large influence on the decorations. But the playlist was seriously the hardest part of the entire planning process. We have very different musical tastes, and the things he found exciting and humorous, I found tacky. The things I found kitschy and fun, he found annoying. A war was waged.

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FINALLY – we sucked it up and made a pretty interesting playlist. For which the DJ promptly ignored in lieu of playing SHITTY country music. We’ve since decided that if that’s the worst thing that happened on our wedding day, we’re pretty damned lucky. But you can’t blame a couple for trying. So, here, in all of it’s glory, is our INTENDED wedding playlist. (Grenades and gatling guns aside.)

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1. Left Hand Free – Alt J
2. XO – Beyonce
3. Around My Head – Cage the Elephant (The part where lead singer Matt says, “Can ya dig it” is my friend Jesse’s favorite lyric to emphasize when scream-singing along.)
4. Stay Alive – Jose Gonzalez (This was our reception entrance song.) This song was also featured in the movie, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” which Brandon and I found enchanting. We always think of Ben Stiller longboarding through Iceland when we hear this.
5. Black or White – Michael Jackson
6. Santa Monica  – Everclear
7. Stand By Me – Ben E. King (Mother/groom dance.)
8. Fell In Love With A Girl – The White Stripes (We liken aspects of our relationship to the one in Silver Linings Playbook. We already loved The White Stripes, but now this song took on a different meaning.)
9. Midnight Rider – The Allman Brothers Band (I do my best to not think of the time this song was featured in The Devils Rejects. *shudder)
10. Love Potion No. 9 – The Clovers
11. Cupid – Sam Cooke
12. Crossroads – Cream (My dad was obsessed with this song when I was growing up. It played on the stereo quite a bit.)
13. Blueberry Hill – Fats Domino
14. L.A. Woman – The Doors (Mr. Mojo Risin’ is my favorite part to chant over and over. My dad used to chant it as he worked in his garage.)
15. Cool Kids – Echosmith (I heard this song for the first time while I was in Drifters in Nashville visiting Jesse a few years ago. I brought it back home with me.)
16. Danger! High Voltage – Electric Six
17. Don’t Stop – Fleetwood Mac
18. All These Things That I’ve Done – The Killers (Cassie and I belt this song together. She was my Maid of Honor, so this was dedicated to her.)
19. Anna Sun – Walk The Moon (Brandon and I have fantasies of being able to do the dance in this video. It still hasn’t happened.)
20. Heavy Bells – J Roddy Walston And The Business
21. The Passenger – Iggy Pop
22. Dancing On My Own – Robyn (I used to work at Torrid, and this song played all the time. I learned to love it through osmosis.)
23. Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones (The phrase, “I was born in a crossfire hurricane,” was sang a lot as I was a kid.)
24. Sloppy Seconds – Watsky (The opening line made me leery, but Watsky is such a talent that we couldn’t skip him.)
25. Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show
26. My Generation – The Who
27. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
28. Always Alright – Alabama Shakes (Recessional song.)
29. The Man In Me – Bob Dylan (The Big Lebowski, anyone?)
30. Runaway Baby – Bruno Mars
31. Where the Wind Blows – Coco O.
32. A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got) – Fergie, Q-Tip, GoonRock
33. Mae – The Gaslight Anthem (Processional song.)
34. You Are My Sunshine – Johnny Cash (Father/bride dance.) (I bawled like a baby when I listened to this, and I knew my dad and I had to dance to it.)
35. The Ghost Who Walks – Karen Elson (Jack White’s ex-wife is quite the talent. Another Third Man Records find.)
36. West Coast – Lana Del Rey
37. Call It What You Will – Larry and His Flask
38. I Am Not Willing – Moby Grape
39. I Love You More Than Words Can Say – Otis Redding (First dance song.)
40. Booty Swing – Parov Stelar
41. Rye Whiskey – Punch Brothers
42. Let Go – RAC, Kele, MNDR (Jarrett, who was my Man of Honor, introduced us to this song, and we couldn’t forget it.)
43. In the Jailhouse Now – The Soggy Bottom Boys (When we’re alone, Brandon sings this song. He does quite a good job.)
44. Atlantic City – The Band
45. Down in Mexico – The Coasters (Death Proof solidified this song for us.)
46. Nothing But a Heartache – The Flirtations
47. Bang Bang – will.i.am
48. Hello Operator – The White Stripes
49. When She Begins – Social Distortion
50. Ohio – The Black Keys
51. Just Got Paid – ZZ Top
52. All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor
53. Would You Fight For My Love? – Jack White
54. Fire – Jimi Hendrix
55. Gold and Warm – Bad Veins
56. On My Mind – New Found Glory
57. Harry Potter Soundtrack (Seating music before ceremony.) (We got more compliments on this choice than anything else on this playlist.Everyone LOVED hearing this when they entered the venue.)