An album that changed my life…
You may or may not know that I own somewhere in the region of 3000 CDs and at least 500 records (yes, it makes moving house difficult). So the thought of pining down a select few albums, out of the 3000+ I own and countless thousands more that I have heard to settle on a few that genuinely changed my life, is a big statement.
Thankfully, I know what they are, amazingly, I know exactly why.
For some people, the record that changed their life is usually the first one they owned and fell in love with, because it truly captured their imagination and passion for music. That’s not the case with me, whilst the first records I owned (first single was Bryan Adam’s “Everything I Do” and first album was Def Leppard “Adrenilize”) had a profound effect on me, they weren’t the first time music really entered my life. In fact, I wouldn’t even be able to tell you what that was. I grew up in a family with a Dad who played guitar, parents that took me to folk festivals, an Uncle who love hard rock, another Uncle who loved country…those first moments are a bit of a grey area, even if it is a glorious grey area.
The first record (that I am going to talk about) that changed my life was Everlast’s “Whitey Ford Sings the Blues.”
There was a time in my life when I was getting obsessed with antisocial hardcore punk, I was 17-18 and at that age where I was trying to find my way. There was something magical about the hardcore scene, the unity, the pride, the passion and the DIY ethics that came along with it that had a profound effect on me. The music wasn’t always great, but I was at that age where I would defend what I believed in to the death, even if I didn’t truthfully believe it myself.
I had become a little lost, my tastes grew increasingly antisocial and I began to ignore the fact that there was an incredible wealth of music out there. Then one fateful night I heard a record that captured my imagination in a way that any album had in years, it was Whitey Ford Sings the Blues.
I grew up on folk, had been exposed to hiphop in my teens, rock gigs in locals were a Sunday afternoon staple…and here was an album that seamlessly walked the line between those genres.
At a time in my life where I had only wanted to listen to straight down the line punishingly heavy music, this was a breath of fresh air the opened new avenues, and reminded me of my roots.
I had heard some hip hop on the charts in my teens, Busts Rhymes, Run DMC, House of Pain…but never bought anything. I became more curious about the House of Pain (in case you didn’t know, Everlast was a founding member), started listening to Cypress Hill, the Wu Tang Clan, Dr Dre and NWA, Snoop Doggy Dogg, thanks to a close friend Due La Soul, Erik B and Rakim…the list grew and grew.
Folk was a part of my life, always has been, it seems I just needed to hear an acoustic guitar played right to remind me of that.
Rock music is where I learnt what it meant to be a musician and have a certain something that captured peoples imagination. Freddie Mercury, Jimi Hendrix….these people had that certain something,
Yet in one record, I was offered it all and I still find that a little hard to believe. One album, the soul of a poet, artful and imaginative beats and personality. I was hooked.
A few years later I found a triple platinum award plaque of this album online, at £250, which was an enormous amount of money to a 23 year old who had just gone to uni and was struggling to pay rent, it seemed most likely that I would never buy it. It would remain one of those things that I “saw online” much like the Rocky statue…thankfully a person who knew how much it would mean to me offeredd to buy it for me as a birthday/Christmas present. We don’t really see eye to eye any more, but I will forever think highly of her for knowing how much that present meant to me. I hope she reads this one day…
It is amazing to think that one album could change my outlook on what music meant to me and derail my musical wants so much, but it did and I have never looked back.