Neil Young Tonight's the Night (1975)
Until recently, this record wasn't even among my top five Neil Young albums. Repeat listens over the past year or so have revealed the absolute brilliance of this record. Lacking any inkling of over-production or tinkering, this is a fucking rock n' roll record to the core. If you listen to this record top-to-bottom, and don't feel something, you have the soul of John Boehner.
Richard Buckner Devotion and Doubt (1997)
When I'm moments from dying, I will probably finally proclaim, "After 5,532 lists, Devotion and Doubt is my favorite record ever! Later!" When considering the combination of lyrics and, I don't know, some sort of spiritual beauty, nothing I've ever heard tops this. I mean: "Wasted and well spent. Taken and once wrecked. Oh, you’re better than this and that. I thought I was cured of any last chance. Unfastened and floored. And now all I want is just a little nothing more."
Sam Cooke Portrait of a Legend, 1951-1964 (2003)
What does the soul of man sound like? Sam Cooke.
Bruce Springsteen Born To Run (1975)
I usually go with Darkness on the Edge of Town, which, deep down, is likely my favorite Springsteen record. I could also easily run with The Wild, The Innocent, The E Street Shuffle, but when it comes to the freedom that music can drill into the depths of one's gut, Born To Run is the epitome. "Well, the night's busting open. These two lanes will take us anywhere. We got one last chance to make it real. To trade in these wings on some wheels. Climb in back, heaven's waiting on down the tracks." My god.
Wilco Being There (1996)
I spun all four sides on the turntable today and was reminded of the first time I listened to this record. I was working my first "music industry" gig out of college in Manhattan and booked over to Hoboken one afternoon to grab an advance. After the messy and furious opening, Tweedy's joined by Bennett on piano and sings, "When you're back in your old neighborhood, the cigarettes taste so good. But you're so misunderstood, so misunderstood. There's something there that you can't find." Yes, I thought. Yes, I thought again. And to this day, now 14 years later, despite coming to understand part of what I already knew, that song and this record nails me.
Marah Let's Cut the Crap and Hook Up Later on Tonight (1998)
This afternoon I was driving around the city blasting the Stones' Exile on Main Street. Whenever I listen to this record, I think of Marah's debut. Maybe it was because this record hit exactly when I needed it. Maybe it's because I became friends with the guys from the band. Maybe it's because I drove from New York City to Philly almost every weekend to see these guys play the most full-on rock and roll that I've ever witnessed in a small club. Just like the Neil and Wilco records mentioned above, this is everything: rock, country, punk, soul, sex, heaven and hell all in one.
Big Star #1 Record/Radio City (1972)
"Girlfriend, what are you doing? You're driving me to ruin. The love that you've been stealing. Has given me a feeling." Chris Bell and Alex Chilton are my Lennon and McCartney.
Uncle Tupelo Still Feel Gone (1991)
Are new fans of Wilco aware that Jeff Tweedy was in a band prior to Wilco? And that they were incredible? And that Jay Farrar was also in that band? And that I once drove from New Jersey to Belleville, Illinois to look at their yearbook pictures and visit sketchy bars and ask about Jay and Jeff in high school? (Seriously.) The rage, inner turmoil and desire to escape that comes with growing up in a town with little to no opportunity explodes on Uncle Tupelo's second record. They were both "Looking for a Way Out," and shit if they didn't find it.
I was going to do ten, but I want to listen to these records so badly right now that I must run.