The other day I came across a CNN article about the recordings that changed the lives or represented a seminal moment in the development of the various people interviewed. Some of the records featured were:
“Can’t Buy a Thrill” by Steely Dan
“The Wall” by Pink Floyd
“Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues
“1984” by Van Halen
“Good Bye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John
“What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye
“Signals” by Rush
“Life’s Rich Pageant” by R.E.M.
The album that did it for me would be “Are You Experienced?” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. You have to picture the scene – it was the summer of 1967; me, a 16-year-old hick from small-town Iowa, trying to be cool. Here comes this album, which featured three really freaky-looking guys on the cover, with music that ranged from hyped-up blues rock to pure acid psychedelia (it’s easy for me to categorize the music now, using 40-plus years of experience, but back then, I didn’t know what the hell to call it; it was just cool music that blew my mind, even without an MTV video to stare at). I played it constantly and played it loud, using a child’s mono phonograph hot-wired to a Silvertone bass amp (since my brother played guitar, we had plenty of amps lying around, but no decent stereo); when the needle started to wear out, we weighted the tone arm with a drum key to keep the record from skipping (which would horrify the audiophile purist, I’m sure). Even now, the record still knocks me out when I play it (my enjoyment made bittersweet due to the recent death of Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell); where else can you hear a frizzy-haired black guy singing, “Excuse me while I kiss the sky?” (or “kiss this guy,’ if you misheard the lyrics like I did). So let’s go back to those days of black light posters and freak outs, and ask the question again: “Have You Ever Been Experienced?” (“Well, I Have…”)
That’s my story – what’s yours?