Kt Emmerson shares five albums that shaped her life.
by Kt Emmerson
Albums, albums, albums? I don’t exactly think in album language, in fact, I don’t think I could tell you the title of one album. I was always monumentally impressed with people who could do that, “oh, you know Joshua Tree was a much better album than Rattle and Hum…”. No, I always related to music in songs, so I’m gonna have to stretch a little bit of the truth in assigning the 5 most influential songs/artists to their respective albums. But, here goes.
Fleetwood Mac – Greatest Hits
I used to run with a couple of fellas in my one horse down here in Texas. One of them really had a bitchin Camaro and the other taught be all about cool toons. We did a whole mess of shenanigans, once hanging our heads off of the top of the 15 floor Ramada…no railings in those days while smoking lots of cigs )probably camels). One of my birthdays, bitchin Camaro gave me a Fleetwood Mac best-of-album. I had kind of been obsessed with Rhiannon…and reckoned myself a witchy woman. I WAS the gypsy that I was…at least in Podunk. I have dreams that I am Stevie Nicks in my flowy, witchy sleeves. Ok, they are daydreams and I’m singing to my little warlock brood. Stevie taught me that what really moves me about songs is seeing myself in them. Living those words, like a cat in the night and then she is the darkness…
Depeche Mode – Music for the Masses
What’s with Depeche Mode? I guess no one can escape the 80s new wave draw of Gores etched a notch above New Order electronics coupled with Gahan’s full-throated warm and silky painting over the tops of the plinking and bleeping. From Speak and Spell to Violator there are rare gems in every album. From People Are People’s social nihilistic commentary to Shake The Disease’s heavy drums and lower notes and Dave’s personal pleas forgive him for his tongue (oh, yes, Dave, you are always forgiven, just keep writing lovely lyrics to me).
Besides the appeal and quality new waviness, there are all the memories whenever a DM song comes on. Me and my bestie perfecting our navel gaze, butterfly chasing dance floor moves in her garage apartment bedroom. All the teen big feels wrapped up in Little 15, and Blasphemous Rumors, spoke to my little doesn’t-fit-in spirit. DM is all about putting your feelings together with your dark dancefloor moves. I’m holding my butt in the chair right now at my local coffee house but my head will not stop bopping to the ultimate dance-ability. And, if you’ve never seen them live, with Dave’s microphone spin, well, I hope you don’t die before they come back on tour.
The Smiths – Strangeways Here We Come
Remember those fellas I used to run with? Well, the one I call my first DJ will always hold a special place in my heart for gifting me with Morrissey and Jonny Marr. Marr’s jangle ruined me against grunge guitar forever. I can never get enough jangly guitar. “There’s too much caffeine your bloodstream, and a lack of real spice in your life”…how did he know this would be my mom anthem? Morrissey’s absolute pugnacious arrogance is halting but completely admired by me. The jokes about him never making it to his own concerts, sits well with this introverted sociophobia. I have this wonderful memory of my DJ friend using Morrissey lyrics to dress me down for leaving him on our high school campus on his birthday. Well, you can guess your own Morrissey lyrics here.
Psychedelic Furs – Best Of
Psych Furs is seriously and still an underrated band, in my humble, unprofessional opinion. And yet, they still tour and record new music. A serious longevity that I think is owed to Richard Burler’s better-than-Bowie, brother-to-Peter Murphy voice and his poetry. Would that Byron or Whitman could write The Ghost in You (Inside you, the time moves and she don’t fade, the ghost in you). In my opinion, the Psych Furs have influenced many earlier follow on bands as well as the new new-wave happening. Oh, and they’ve got the perfect 60’s jangle, and what other band do you know who could use a sax so masterfully without being kitsch? No one has done that better since Sad Lovers and Giants. Many a beautiful car ride was had in my college drive in my little Nissan Pulsar stick shift. I challenge you to not enjoy a car ride with the PFurs.
Big Country – Steeltown
When I met my husband back in podunk-shit-town, he was a senior in college to my just out of high school musical tastes. He was my next best DJ and has continued to influence and hone my tastes. You know you have the best marriage when you can tell your husband/DJ what sound or mood you’re in and he’ll soon match and compliment your funk with musical appropriateness. That is a special talent worth cherishing. He was a big Big Country fan (still his favorite band). I’d heard of their title song In a Big Country, but hadn’t really given a full listen to their other and better songs with a completely individual and unique approach. They have that college radio, regional flavor type of appeal, Midnight Oil’s the bush, The Pogues’ Dublin streets.
If you don’t hear the highlands of Scotland singing when listening to Where the Rose is Sown and the sparks and metal clanging on Steeltown…well, you need to tune in better. Stuart Adamson’s battle cry for his and Scott’s heart is uncommonly tender and engulfing. “Sons of men who stand like gods, We give life to feed the cause…” The African-esque drums on Tall Ships Go, and Stuart’s “E Bow” guitars that sound like bagpipes. My words and exaltation cannot do justice to Big Country’s enormous talent, individualistic sound. If you’ve missed getting to know this band or forgot about them, I implore you to spend a good earbud afternoon embracing their Big and deep sound. You won’t want to hear U2 ever again (just kidding).
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