Musical Imprinting

I will be the first to admit there are albums that I think are going to rule the world and then never listen to again not too much later. These may be fresh and awesome, but don’t adhere to your soul in a way that makes you want to keep them around forever. Then there are albums that are good and you listen to off and on throughout your history, enjoying in a normal way.

There are only a handful of albums that I would say have touched me so much that they have become a part of me.

After looking at my list and thinking back on the time I happened to come upon these albums I was surprised to find that all of them were albums I played while going to sleep. Did they imprint on my consciousness while I was in REM sleep? Or was I just clear headed enough at bed time to really listen and absorb them? Often I would put on my headphones and have no sensations but the music and the blankets. No sights, no other sounds and no distractions. For whatever reason, these albums made an impression on me that was profound. Not all were slow mellow stuff either. They each have their reasons for being soul selections.

The list is this:

“Jon Anderson – Olias Of Sunhillow”

“Pink Floyd – Animals”

“U2 – The Unforgettable Fire”

“Deep Dish – Deep Dish”

“Everything But The Girl – Walking Wounded”

“Marilyn Manson – Eat Me, Drink Me”

“Passion Pit – Gossamer”

Olias and Animals I have written about before. You can search my blog to find references to them.

“U2 – The Unforgettable Fire”

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This album was what I listened to as I went to bed in my little rented room off Summit Avenue when I was going to UW Milwaukee. My room was cold as hell in the winter and my inflatable matress which I put on top of bananna boxes that I carried home from my job at East Side Foods was up against the radiator in the room. So one side of me was freezing and the other side was roasting. Between having to flip constantly to keep evenly heated and having to pump up the matress a few times a night, bedtime was not as eagerly anticipated as it often is. This album though calmed me. It was a time before U2 went weird and made Zoo TV albums. This one was kind of the sound experiment bridging the gap between the old sound and what was to come. It was perfect for me.

This album has slow openings, fades and echoes and is very fluid throughout. The echoes in The Edge’s guitarwork was a fundamental piece of this music. Lulling you into falling into the rhythm and rising and falling with it. It was perfect to go to sleep to. I remember the nights when I made it to “MLK” it was like Bono was singing to me and putting his hand over my eyes to close them, and I surrendered. It was hypnotic.

When U2 went gigantic and was doing their Zoo TV stuff I was turned off, but years later I played this album and got a shiver remembering those nights of fading out to this. The perfect storm of lush arrangements and pop ballads. I still don’t remember the names of the songs on here, it was the whole album, not individual songs for me. It was just The Unforgettable Fire song.

“Deep Dish – Deep Dish”

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was a selection recommended to me by Kris B. when I was at Marshall Erdman. I listened to it and at first was like… “Dude, it’s like all one song.” The first song trailed into the next and the entire album was a couple songs mixed different ways all blending together. However, before I knew it, I wanted to listen to it again. It grew on me. This became a usual bedtime selection and the fluidity and ever so slight change from track to track along with the repeated themes made it almost hypnotizing. I experimented with other House music but nothing else really came close. This one, for whatever reason struck just the right cord with me. I included this in the CD collection I created for Max when he went to summer band camp. This was my 18 CD’s that changed my life collection. It made a real impact on me.

“Everything But The Girl – Walking Wounded”

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was a CD I got from the Waunakee Public Library. I had seen a show on MTV (back when they still played music) that had musical guests on. Everything But The Girl was on and did a couple of songs from this album. The band is just the two of them, the androgynous girl singing and the sullen looking guy playing keyboards. It was odd, but really good. They had such a weird vibe on the show I just had to check out the CD years later when I saw it in the rack at the library. I was blown away. This album hit me in exactly the right time and place and my I-pod is never without it. This was another bedtime selection that I played most nights for a very long time. The sullen heartbreak of it all is so seductive. It’s kind of like rooting for the bad guy in a movie. You know this should not make you happy, but it does.

“Marilyn Manson – Eat Me, Drink Me”

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This one is a bit different from the rest, but it had the same effect on my mind. I got this particular album when Patty was sick. I had always liked Manson, but hadn’t heard anything from him in a while. This release was a surprise, and a good one. I just stumbled on it one day. The sound was a little different, but it was just angry and loud enough to drown out all the chaos in my head during those days. As things progressed I spent many nights on the couch. My snoring was bad and kept Patty from getting much-needed sleep. So for a while I said goodnight and headed down to the couch in the living room. I would lay there worrying and being angry at the world and the only thing that would soothe me was this album. It was a weird time. The music helped. It was dark music for a dark time. When I started sleeping at the hospital, in recliners and on sofas in unit waiting rooms, I played this on repeat all night long. I used it not only to listen to and shake off the day to be able to start again tomorrow, but also as my leave me alone sign for other people coming into the room. I’ve no doubt that they could hear Manson seeping from my headphones. Once “If I Was Your Vampire” kicked in, the world was gone. Say what you want about Manson, but he helped me get through each night there. Even when I was back in my own bed, I still needed Manson to help me focus all the emotion and be able to sleep. This album was like an old friend who knew exactly what I needed to hear. I gathered a lot of strength from “Eat Me, Drink Me”. It earned a place here.

I sent this picture of Manson to Dalton when he was in a dark place. He made this out of it. He was able to use Manson in his own way.

Manson Is My Copilot

The most recent album that is imprinted on me is this one.

“Passion Pit – Gossamer”

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My introduction to Passion Pit was an appearance on a TV show. There were a multitude of keyboards and a fuzzy haired singer and the song which I later discovered was “The Reeling”. The performance was great. I made a note of the band name and the very next time I heard a song by them on the radio I cranked it up. Ugh. I don’t remember which song it was but surprisingly I hated it. If you know me, you know I love a crisp recording mix. This song had the drums and vocals and keyboards all at the same level making a muddy sound picture. I sought out “The Reeling” and I was surprised to find that even the song that I liked on the TV appearance had that same sort of mixture on the album track. It was just too “off” to me and I wrote off Passion Pit. That’s how judgmental I am, snobbish if you will. Then about 6 months ago I heard a track from their new album “Gossamer”. I liked it. It still had that muddy sort of mix, but it wasn’t so bad this time. I also heard one more from that album later the next week and liked that one too. So, when the album was on sale on Amazon… I took a chance and downloaded it to my phone.

This album is simply, fantastic.

The sound is still a little weird, though I hesitate to call it muddy. It has a more distinct sound than the first album (which by the way I have also gotten and love) and at first the little chipmunk voices and a capella intros and little odd melodies were somewhat tedious, but the hooks in the songs were so enormous I had to just get over it. I listened night after night in a half sleep and the album grew on me in a significant way. I even started anticipating and waiting for the same little chipmunk voices and a capella intros and little odd melodies that put me off in the beginning.

I liken this phenomenon to my Rage Against The Machine syndrome. At first the little Tom Morello guitar noises and musical ticks in the songs were the worst part of the songs… then, well, I learned to love them. The repeating notes, the sirens and weird noises he would make with that guitar became the best part of the songs.

“Gossamer” started doing the same thing, which was powerful, since I already loved the rest of it.

If there is a section where the words are hard to make out because of the mix, I just listen to the sound of the lyrics. I soon found myself concentrating so hard on the music and waiting for the hooks and tweaky little noises that it started keeping me from sleeping. I play it on random now so that the pattern is broken.  I find myself forcing other albums into rotation on my phone because I am afraid of never listening to anything else. This one is imprinted on me now. If you had told me that I would love a group in which keyboards are the dominant instrument I would have said no way dude, but here I am.

I think I relate this album to happiness. There is a joyful feeling in the sound of these songs, even if the lyrics don’t always seem uplifting. That is the beauty of music, you can use it however you want.

This album is relatively new to the history of me, but I am certain that it is as deeply imprinted as the rest of this group.

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About auralretentive

Music Lover Music Snob Music Junkie
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2 Responses to Musical Imprinting

  1. dalton holmen says:

    I really like the way you broke down your soul albums and made a list of all those albums. Of course this inspired me to make my own list of “soul food.” Of course I went way over with the number of albums I listed.

    I have a list of albums that are the ones that are capable of putting me in a zen like trance that is so pleasurable it rivals the joy I would get from anything else.

    Finally, I have a long list of the other albums that were significant in my life, many times for years and years and to this day. I’ll start with my zen list and then the other albums will get listed.

    Sinead O’Connor Lion and the Cobra
    Judas Priest Sad wings of destiny
    Janes’s Addiction xxx s/t
    Pink Floyd animals
    Morcheeba who can you trust
    Pink Floyd Final cut
    Cynics Rock and roll
    Pink Floyd The Wall
    Metallica master of puppets
    NIN fragile
    Sinead O’Connor I do not want what I haven’t got
    NIN Downward Spiral
    Pink Floyd Wish you were here
    monster magnet powertrip
    Marilyn manson mechanical animals
    NIN broken
    Now the albums with zen like potential, especially at high volume. All these have been completely listed to death to the point of needing to listen to it .

    Rush 2112
    Iron Maiden live death
    scorpions animal magnetism
    van halen fair warning
    toadies rubberneck
    tesla mechanical resonance
    rush moving pictures
    van halen s/t
    Kiss Paul Stanley
    Stone Temple Pilots Core
    Led Zeppelin houses of the holy
    Pixies Dooloittle
    Scorps Blackout
    Van Halen 5150
    MSG Perfect Timing
    Nirvana Nevermind
    Rage against the machine s/t
    Rush Exit State Left
    Hagar Standing Hampton
    scorpions world wide live
    Van Halen II
    Triumph Never Surrender
    Stooges Funhouse
    Iron Maiden 7th son of a 7th son
    Pixies Trompe le monde
    REM 1983-1993 albums
    Rush Hemispheres
    Van Halen 1984
    Stone Temple Pilots Purple
    Stooges s/t
    Nirvana In Utero
    pixies Bossanova
    neil young Ragged glory
    Bad Religion no control
    Velvet Underground VU and Nico
    scorpions Tokyo tapes

    These all have in common in the I listened to the sh_t out of these albums for long periods of my life if not my entire listening years

    • Those are 2 awesome lists. I have to say that I can see almost all of those being powerful for you. Sinead is always a surprise but understandable. Shows depth. Floyd and NIN, amazing of course. Great Zen list. I think I have almost all of those.

      The Zen LIKE list is also top notch. Stooges, yes! Iron Maiden 7th Son… huh. I have to give that one another listen. Almost all the rest, a resounding yes!

      No worries, I will not hold “Van Halen – 5150 against you. I can see you are generally a man of substantial taste.

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