A while back on Facebook there was a thread going around to list the first ten albums that sprung to mind that were special to you and had stuck with you over the years. It was a lot of fun, and not just in making up my own list but seeing the lists my friends came up with—there would be one or two that would stick out from the others that told you there might be more to your friend’s musical tastes than you thought.
When I looked over the list I made, I realized something: each album I listed brought to mind a very specific period in time. Sometimes it was a span of a couple of years, sometimes it was just one memorable night. Some examples:
Minor Threat was a punk band with a short (but brilliant) career. Their entire discography is only about 45 minutes long, and was all released as one album after their demise, titled simply Complete Discography. Although they were around in the early 80’s I didn’t discover them until a decade later, when I was in my first real band and going to lots of concerts and playing shows of our own, etc. To this day, hearing Minor Threat puts me back behind the wheel of my old red Ford Tempo, driving around the desert picking up my friends without rides so our band could practice (a lot of good it did us *ba dum tish*).
Jimi Plays Monterey is a live album that was released in 1986, just after I had moved to a new town and started at a new school. I found a friend who also liked listening to his parents’ records, and instead of Flock of Seagulls or Depeche Mode we were listening to Cream and Jimi Hendrix. That album (which is still incredible if you’re a Hendrix fan) takes me back to doing homework in my room while furious guitar solos blared in my ear.
Then there’s the one that takes me to one night. December 26, 1992, to be exact. The concert from hell.
I volunteered/was volunteered to drive four of us to see the band Ministry, on tour supporting their new album Psalm 69, with opening acts Helmet and Sepultura. All bands I really liked a lot—it looked to be an awesome night of music and I was really excited for the show. The concert was in North Hollywood, which was a couple of hours from our desert homebase, so we planned to leave early in the afternoon to avoid traffic and get there in plenty of time, which was standard operating procedure.
In the interest of anonymity, I’m going to change the names of my passengers. We’ll call them Paul, George, and Ringo. As we were leaving for the show, Ringo told me we needed to stop at his brother’s house on the way. His brother lived in a city that was right off the freeway and really wasn’t out of the way at all, so it was no big deal. Still, my spidey-senses should have started tingling right away. Without going into too much detail, things went down at said brother’s house which put my passengers in a much better mood but freaked me out A LOT.
Our stop was longer than intended and it put us behind schedule if we met any traffic on the freeway the rest of the way to LA, which was quite common. So we rushed back on the road and sure enough, stop and go, bumper-to-bumper traffic. Finally we seemed to get past the congestion as everyone sped back up to normal speeds again, when suddenly everyone slammed on their brakes again. I stood on my brake and came within inches of the car in front of me, letting out a sigh of relief until George yelled “REAR END!” and we were hit from behind by a car with, I’m guessing, worse brakes or poorer reflexes.
We dealt with the accident and got to the venue about twenty minutes after start time, missing most of the first band. We’re weaving our way through the maze of parked cars when George sees a nice Mercedes with a primo parking spot, and is suddenly very upset by this. Since he already had been complaining about needing to find a bathroom(and was of a mental state that could not exactly be defined as sober), he decided to kill two birds with one stone and proceeded to urinate all over the expensive luxury sedan. This freaked me out, because as part of the group I figured I was guilty by association. Luckily, no one saw this go down.
By the time we got inside the venue and reached our seats, I was an electric ball of nerves. It had been a long trip getting there, and I wasn’t looking forward to the drive back. Then to top it all off we managed to get separated at one point, so I didn’t even know where everyone was. Needless to say, Paul, George, and Ringo were all oblivious to my ulcer-inducing experience and had a much better time than I did that night. But ever since, whenever I hear any song from the album Psalm 69 I’m taken right back to that fateful trip to North Hollywood.
Okay, guys—story time. Tell me the memories you have tied to music, good or bad. What are your auditory time machines?