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In the past, I’ve been amazed at some of my friends’ knowledge about music. I am a passionate listener, but I couldn’t tell you much about records before the 90s. I don’t know much about the Stones, or Led Zeppelin, or Santana, or Otis Redding, or any of the great musicians from the past 60 years.
Yesterday, I was listening to my iPod and walking to the bus stop, on my way to work, and had an idea. In order to satisfy my own cravings to discover more about the evolution of music from the 50s onwards, I need to listen to the greatest albums of all time, sit with them, enjoy them, whatever…and then record my observations, whatever they end up being. My immediate response was excitement. The inspiration actually came from a few sources.
As many people know, and many people don’t, iTunes does not allow artists to request full album only sales of their music. In other words, they can’t restrict people from buying single tracks. Some musicians boycott iTunes for this reason, saying that their music is created as an album and not as singles. Two days ago, I listened to the new Arcade Fire album (The Suburbs) and was inspired. It struck me that their album had a sound that didn’t seem to sit quite right unless you listened to the record from start to finish. I don’t know what their intentions were, but that’s the way the record came across to me. So between The Suburbs, and being reminded about the idea of a complete album, I decided that for me to get a better understanding of music, I need to listen to as many ‘essential’ albums as possible from start to finish.
I checked online to find that Rolling Stone magazine has a list of the top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time posted on their website. Now, 500 seems insanely daunting. Especially if I want to be able to do a bit of research and have time to sit with each album, if I need, to let it digest. So I’ve decided that I will start at 150 and work my way down to the number 1 greatest album of all time.
I’m excited for this project and don’t want to shape it too much ahead of time. Instead, I want to get started and clarify the process as it happens, answering any questions from myself or others along the way. One of my questions right now is how Rolling Stone came up with this list, so I’ll work on figuring that out.
In the meantime, the first album I’m going to listen to is Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’, released in 1978 and also number 150 on the list of Greatest Albums of All Time.
Here we go.