Anyone who peruses our record collection will find that Cristina and I have a very eclectic taste in what we enjoy. Again, the following recommendations may not represent what I consider as “the best” or “my favorites,” they do represent excellent choices that will expand your horizons a bit. There are tons of other pieces I could recommend, but these will do for today.
American Idiot – Green Day
Amazon Link: http://tinyurl.com/mngjx
Dookie – Green Day
Amazon Link: http://tinyurl.com/ljjlx
So, I’m in a used CD store, and after about an hour of onerously going through the available titles, I approach the counter with a selection of four or five CDs. Among them were Some Kind of Blue by Miles Davis (jazz), a classical selection, a couple of others, and Dookie by Green Day. The clerk, a kid in his mid- to late- twenties glanced through the selection as he prepared to log the order, and he paused. He looked at the selection; he looked at me. He looked at the selection; he looked at me. “Who’s this one for?” he ventured. “Me,” I responded, almost certainly unable to hide my amusement. He chuckled and went on with the process.
So, what in the world is a 40-something guy, who clearly likes his classical and jazz doing with a punk album in his selection? It’s important to remember that I was only about 17 when punk hit the musical scene, a clear reaction to the overblown production of 70s bands such as Styx and Journey. Edgy and raw, punk is a very pure form of rock and roll…sort of a journey back to the roots of early rock and roll…only with exceptionally explicit lyrics and an attempt to shock everyone who listens. I’m not easily shocked, and I love the raw guitar bass and drums. Green Day does an excellent job of holding onto that rawness while folding in musical instrumenation not normally associated with punk.
Dookie and American Idiot represent the best of Green Day in terms of execution, the latter being something of a concept album aimed squarely at the current Bush Administration. Despite the use of strings in the production, both albums retain their edginess and are best played at the loudest possible volume while on a road trip…a long road trip. Not for those bothered by profanity. Kudos to my son, James, for turning me onto Green Day. I’ve been a happier man ever since.
Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
Amazon Link: http://tinyurl.com/mpzwf
This is truly one of the best albums ever recorded. Jazz, Rock, Country, Classical…it really doesn’t matter; this album should be in your musical collection. Smooth, sexy, and smoky. I don’t know any other way to describe it. Miles Davis is often cited as one of the best musical minds of the 20th Century, and this album proves that assertion. This is a great album for being at home when you just want to be at home, be quiet and just be. Send the kids away, send the spouse to their Mother’s, pour a glass of wine, sit in the easy chair and listen to the essence of jazz.
Red Headed Stranger by Willie Nelson
Amazon Link: http://tinyurl.com/lzzpu
The consummate concept album, this collection represents why thousands of fans still flock to his concerts and gaze in adoration as he and his band play through fifty years of hard road, drinking, drugging, and tax fights. This album is Willie Nelson. My best friend in high school turned me onto Willie via this album, a musical collection of Country, Western, church piano, and old-fashioned polka. No wonder it set the Country Music establishment on its heals when it was pressed, establishing the battlefront for artists like Waylon Jennings, David Allen Coe, Jessi Coulter, Tompall Glaser, and Jerry Jeff Walker — people with a clear talent, but who did not fit neatly within the seams meant to constrain what is “really” Country. If you own no other Willie Nelson album, this is the one to own.
Baroque Music for Trumpet by Wynton Marsalis
Amazon Link: http://tinyurl.com/pcbam
I wore out the cassette tape of this album! One of the first CDs I ever bought (yes, children, there was a time before CDs), this album has remained one of my very favorites throughout the years. I don’t play it as often as I used to; but, when I do, it’s a feast for my ears. Wynton Marsalis was, and remains, the greatest and most talented living trumpet player. He pioneered trumpeting techniques that are commonplace today, but were amazing breakthroughs when he first employed them and shocked those who listened. I cannot recommend this album high enough.
If you dare to take a chance on any of these albums, I truly hope you enjoy them. I know I have.