50 Years, 50 Albums

I turned 50 today (OK, technically I will turn 50 just before midnight… but whatever). Somehow that seems like it should be in some way meaningful, but really it feels more like any other Thursday, other than that I took the day off and had drinks during lunch.

I have been alive for 18,263 days. Which, when you consider how fast the days (and weeks, and months) seem to fly by as you get older, is both a lot, and not a lot at all. It seems impossible to believe that 2021 is half over already. When you’re young, being a week away from something exciting like Christmas or a vacation feels like an eternity, every minute of the day a battle against the glacial pace of the clock’s second hand. By time you’re in your 40s, it just means you have one more week of work to put up with, a week that will be so full of responsibilities and deadlines that you barely have time to eat lunch, your battle against the clock one of fighting against how fast it moves instead of how slow.

The first time I bought a Led Zeppelin album, a cassette copy of Led Zeppelin I, was in 1986. At that point the mighty Zep had been disbanded for six years, and it had been seven since their last studio album. At the ripe old age of 15 they seemed like old hippies who were part of the ancient past. Rock ‘n’ roll as a genre was, at that point, 35 years old if you consider “Rocket 88” to be the first rock song. By way of comparison, as of today Kurt Cobain has been dead for 27 years and, well, rock ‘n’ roll is exactly twice as old, heading into its seventh decade. Someone who is in their mid-20s today was born after Nirvana put out their last studio album.

When you’re young you don’t understand why your parent’s friends, who you don’t remember ever meeting before, tell you, “I knew you when you were a baby.” You swear you will never say stupid shit like that. And inevitably you do. Because it’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that, frankly, you don’t feel that different today than you think you felt back then, while the child grew from a baby to a teen (or older). It’s almost hard to fathom. You have a connection to them through their parents, and therefore feel like there’s a sort of relationship there. But to them you’re just another old person who doesn’t have a clue. It’s impossible to understand aging until you have aged yourself. This is the truism of aging.

Anyway… I thought a bit about what I might write today. Some of it was deeply personal, and ultimately I talked myself out of that because really it would have probably been self-indulgent crap. So instead I landed on 50 albums that are in some way “important” to me. I’m intentionally not defining important. It is what it is. The one concession I made is that I won’t have any artist listed more than once. Of course, this is arguably every bit as self-indulgent as my earlier ideas. But whatever. Maybe one of these will pique your interest and you’ll go check it out. Maybe you won’t. But putting together the list was kind of fun for me, and it’s my birthday, so if you don’t like it, too bad.

So here they are, in no particular order, 50 albums for 50 years.

  • Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II
  • Metallica – Master of Puppets
  • Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique
  • John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts
  • Gusgus – 24/7
  • Ratt – Out of the Cellar
  • Pink Floyd – The Wall
  • Van Halen – 1984
  • The 3 Tenors – The 3 Tenors in Concert
  • Agent Fresco – A Long Time Listening
  • Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Baby 81
  • The Kills – Ash & Ice
  • Tad – Salt Lick/God’s Balls
  • Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger
  • Sammy Davis, Jr. – I’ve Gotta Be Me: The Best Of Sammy Davis Jr. On Reprise
  • Bob Marley – Legend
  • FM Belfast – How to Make Friends
  • The Devil Makes Three – The Devil Makes Three
  • Legend – Fearless
  • Omar Souleyman – Wenu Wenu
  • Warsaw – Warsaw
  • Mötley Crüe – Shout at the Devil
  • Def Leppard – Hysteria
  • Sir Mix-A-Lot – Swass
  • Run-DMC – Raising Hell
  • Black Sabbath – Paranoid
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – So Far
  • The Doors – The Best of the Doors
  • Kiasmos – Kiasmos
  • Ghostigital – Division of Culture and Tourism
  • Pantera – Vulgar Display of Power
  • Bolt Thrower – Realm of Chaos
  • Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
  • TZMP – Anthology: Simply the Best
  • Kuldaboli – Vafasamur Lífsstíll 2015-2016
  • Hatari – Neysluvara
  • Robert Plant – Now and Zen
  • Gary Clail’s Tackhead Sound System – Tackhead Tape Time
  • No Stayer – Rogue
  • AC/DC – Back in Black
  • Quiet Riot – Metal Health
  • Duran Duran – Seven and the Ragged Tiger
  • Nirvana – MTV Unplugged in New York
  • MC 900 Ft Jesus with DJ Zero – Hell with the Lid Off
  • Bloodgroup – Dry Land
  • Spinal Tap – This Is Spinal Tap
  • Dream Wife – Dream Wife
  • Madonna – Madonna
  • Huey Lewis and The News – Sports
  • Masters of Metal Compilation (US version)

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