Game Changers

What follows is a semi-autobiographical list of records that in some way shaped my life.  The real game-changers.  Some were more important than others, and (when applicable) I’ve bolded them.  Others were just kind of “around” during benchmark moments.  I’ve included a couple of notes here and there as well—some of them need some explaining.  I’m not necessarily claiming that all of these are the BEST records these artists have to offer…they’re just the ones that really mattered to me, either personally or as a song-writer.  It’s a long list…it’s a little self-indulgent…and it’s probably a little boring if you don’t know the artists…but here we go.  Here are the game changers…and I’ll vaguely separate then “when” for you as well—all dates (VERY) approximate.  In fact, some of them flat-out overlap…


  • Pre-Sixth Grade:
    1. The Beatles – “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
    2. Styx – “Caught in the Act (Live)” and “Kilroy Was Here”
    3. Neil Diamond – “Hot August Night”
    4. Aerosmith (Self-titled) – This was the first record I ever bought with my own money–on vinyl.
    5. The Who – “Tommy”I saved up all my money for WEEKS to buy it (on tape).  I think I had like $7 in loose change, and the clerk wasn’t too happy about that.
    6. Meatloaf – “Bat out of Hell”
    7. Pink Floyd – “The Wall”
    9. Metallica – “…And Justice for All”
    10. REO Speedwagon – “Hi Infidelity” – This was the first CD I ever got.  A birthday present from my parents when I turned 10, along with my first CD player.


  • Sixth Grade Through Junior High
    1. Yes – “Big Generator”
    2. Queensryche – “Operation: Mindcrime”This might’ve been more relevant in High School…but I know I was into Queensryche before Mom died, so that puts this in the Jr. High area…
    3. Dream Theater – “Images and Words”This started a love-affair with DT that lasted for about a decade.  I still like them…but I think they’ve declined in recent years, frankly.
    4. Rush – “Counterparts”
    5. Michael Manring – “Thonk”FOREVER changed the way I thought about the bass guitar.  One of the biggest influenced on my playing.  Again, though…this might be a little early in the time-line…can’t quite remember when it came out.
    6. Nirvana – “Nevermind” – What can I say?  If you were aged 10-18 in the early 90s, you had this record…
    7. Neurotic Outsiders (self titled)
    8. Van Halen – “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”
    9. Queen – “Live at Wembley ’84”


  • High School/Early College (Here’s where the timeline gets REALLY cloudy!)
    1. The Who – “Quadrophenia”STILL my favorite record.  It saved my life in high school and my SOUL in college.
    2. Iron Maiden – “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”
    3. Queensryche – “Promised Land”
    4. Yes – “Talk” – In fact, I was playing this record the night my mother died.  “I Am Waiting” may have been the last song she ever heard, wafting down the hall…kinda sad, but it’s an excellent record.
    5. Pearl Jam – “Vitalogy”
    6. Sammy Hagar – “Marching to Mars”
    7. Van Halen – “Balance”
    8. Frank Zappa – “Ship Arriving too Late to Save a Drowning Witch”
    9. Rollins Band – “Weight”
    10. Stone Temple Pilots – “Purple” – (I think…either that or “Vatican Gift Shop” I get them mixed up.)
    11. Rush – “Test for Echo”
    12. Spoondrift – “Alone with Others”And I’m still in touch with Jimmy Manno…
    13. KISS – “Destroyer” and “Revenge” – …and I’m just a little embarrassed by that now…
    14. Rich Mullins – “The Jesus Record”
    15. Les Miserables – Soundtrack
    16. Black Crowes – “Amorica” and “Three Snakes and One Charm”
    17. Elton John – “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”


  • Stuff Prevalent During my Years in Uncle Dick or Thereabout
    1. The Descendents – “Everything Sucks”
    2. Cheap Trick – “Cheap Trick ’97”BIG influence on Uncle Dick, and Dave and I were in the Cheap Trick Fan Club for a few years.
    3. Live – “The Distance to Here”
    4. The Pixies – “Surfer Rosa”
    5. Alice Cooper – “Brutal Planet”
    6. The Get Up Kids – “Something to Write Home About” and “On A Wire”
    7. Iggy Pop – “Beat ‘Em Up” and “Raw Power”
    8. Glimmer – “Silver Zone”
    9. Hard Core Logo – SoundtrackReally shaped a lot of the attitude of Uncle Dick.
    10. Headstones – “Oracle of Hi/Fi”
    11. Madison Greene – “The Whitestone Gathering” and “Think the Dancers Mad”
    12. Stiff Little Fingers – “Inflammable Material”
    13. Misfits – Boxed Set, mostly…
    14. ALL – Best of… and “Pummel”
    15. Spice Girls – “Spice” I know…shut up…  I got hooked on the music because I saw the movie and thought it was a good, funny movie.  Plus, I feel no need to apologize for liking the Spice Girls when so much of the other stuff on my list is pop, but just with guys singing it…I mean, hello?  Cheap Trick, much?


  • Later College that Didn’t Really Intersect with Uncle Dick
    1. Drive-By Truckers – “Decoration Day”
    2. Johnny Cash – “American IV” and “Live at Folsom”
    3. Hank Williams III – “Lovesick, Broke, and Driftin'”
    4. Denison Witmer – “Of Joy and Sorrow”
    5. David Bowie – “Heathen”
    6. Tree By Leaf – “Postcards from Rome”
    7. Neil Young – “Greendale” and “Prarie Wind”
    8. Son Volt – “Trace” – Major apologies to Marc for not getting it when we were in union jack together…
    9. Warren Zevon – “The Wind”
    10. Stone Temple Pilots – Whichever one isn’t the one from above…
    11. Pete Townshend – “Live”


  • More Recent…
    1. Aimee Mann – “The Forgotten Arm”
    2. Michael Penn – “Mr. Hollywood Jr. 1947”
    3. Tom Waits – “Akron”
    4. Over the Rhine – “Ohio”
    5. Devin Townsend Band – “Accelerated Evolution” – Which almost re-kindled my interest in modern prog music…then I read up on things the guy’s said and I realized he’s just a huge dork and it sort of turned me off…I mean, who doesn’t like the f***ing Who???  …but this is still a great record.
    6. Reverend Horton Heat – Best of…It’s why I bought a Gretsch…
    7. …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – “Worlds Apart”
    8. Bruce Springsteen – “Devils and Dust” and “Live in Dublin”
    9. Modest Mouse – “Good News for People Who Love Bad News”
    10. Ray Davies – “Working Man’s Cafe” – Which has sparked my new-found fondness of the Kinks.


…okay…I’m sure I left off a bunch of stuff…but this is super-long, and that’s a good loose framework, anyway.  Hope someone out there enjoyed it.




Current Listening:

  • Leonard Cohen – “Live in London”