10 BEST reasons to organize your music
Rediscovering old music
We were supposed to clean out the closets onSaturday, but my wife gave me the task of assemblinga new CD/DVD rack. That task led to wipingCDs and cassettes with a wet cloth and scrubbingdown the baseboard. Naturally, I had to alphabetizethe whole collection. What a joyous discovery:CDs and cassettes in various conditions, packagingand labeling containing incredible music fromforgotten phases of my life.
As a 17-year-old rural Kentucky skater punk in1992, the 1981 SoCal punk sampler Chunks onthe SS T label was my soundtrack. I would shoutthe lyrics to “Global Probing” by the Descendents(“It takes a long time to get what you want/ Nomatter how hard you try, it just won’t come…) tothe click-clack rhythm of the board as I launchedoff the plywood ramp. Clocking in at less than20 minutes, all 12 songs are classics, from HenryRollins bellowing, “I’m not a machine,” on BlackFlag’s contribution to Vox Pop’s raucous and undeniable“You’re My Favorite.”
Boogie Down Productions
In 1990 my friend Steve loaned me a copy ofEdutainment by Boogie Down Productions, andit blew my mind. Granted I’m not a huge hip-hopfan, but as far as I’m concerned this album isunequaled. The beats have an electrifying sonicclarity. KRS One’s flow is impeccable, righteous andentertaining. In overwhelmingly white KentuckyI had never been exposed to such unabashedAfrocentric intellectualism. I was soon wearinga fez with Pan-African colors and interviewinghomeless people in New York City’s TompkinsSquare Park.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jeffrey DeanFoster in the last decade when I wrote about hisclassic 2005 album Million Star Hotel. The coolestpart was having the Winston-Salem gentlemanrocker lay one of his older efforts on me. AboveGround and Vertical by the Pinetops – Foster’sband between the Right Profile and his solocareer – is chock full of songs you’ve probablynever heard of that should be classics, backedby a band steeped in Crazy Horse and theHeartbreakers.
September CD s
My cousin Chris sent me a series of samplerCDs in September 2004, the first of which openswith the beguiling trance-NorteÃ±o lament “CrystalFrontier” by Calexico. The Pixies rip into a deliciouscover of Warren Zevon’s “Ain’t That Pretty at All.”Ciccone Youth, AKA Sonic Youth, pay reverence toMadonna’s “Into the Groove.” And INXS lays downwhat would prove to be my wedding song sixyears later: the incomparable “Never Tear Us Apart.”
Early George Jones
In 1995 I abruptly pivoted away from the thirdwaveska bands I had been following and purchaseda cassette copy of The Best of George Jones,Volume One: Hardcore Honky Tonk. It wasn’t anentire departure; as a kid I’d listened to the LorettaLynn album in my parents’ collection. But soonenough I acquired and embraced the nickname“Country Jordan” at Antioch College. George Jonesled me to the late Gram Parsons and the entire altcountrymovement of the late ’90s.
New Mexico, 2003
A sampler CD I made for myself entitled Lonelyin Hernandez accurately describes my life in thefall of 2003 in EspaÃ±ola, NM. Some of the songsinclude “Sweet Side” by Lucinda Williams, “JustSome Girl” by Phil Lee, “I Don’t Know Why” byStevie Wonder, “Angel Band” and “I Am a Man ofConstant Sorrow” by Ralph Stanley, and “LonelyGirl” and “I Spoke As a Child” by Todd Snider.
Los Lobos’ music has been an abiding companionfor all of my thirties, but I got into themin 2004 when their retrospective The Ride wasreleased. “Somewhere in Time” with guest DaveAlvin trading gruff vocals with the sweet-soundingDavid Hidalgo, accompanied by gorgeous pedalsteel work by Greg Leisz, captured the melancholyfeel of the year.
Reggae deep cuts
Shout out to my fellow Goose, Chris Kubicek,lyric spitter for the Queens punk band Yo! $cunt.Chris used to mail me many a mix tape with, forwhat it’s worth, not a punk song included. Thetapes showcased his unequaled taste in music:Dixie-fried rockabilly courtesy of Carl Perkins,New Orleans R&B along the lines of “Ride YourPony,” mod rockers via the Who and the Jam, andmostly reggae deep cuts. The latter was what Ifound on the cassette with inscrutable labelingthat I pulled out of an ancient, wooden Coca-Colacrate. Highlights include “Sonny’s Lettah” by LintonKwesi Johnson and “I’ve Got to Go Back Home” byMarcia Griffiths.