I have begun college this fall, and over the past few months my roommate and I have played guitar together and shared our musical tastes. Thankfully the Lord blessed me with a roommate that shares similar musical inclinations as I do, and we have started to write some of our own material. That, combined with the amount of music I have been diving into during homework sessions, has made me want to write a blog post about the top 5 albums that have influenced me as a songwriter/lyricist/artist. I did not think too long about these because I knew if I did I would not be able to decide, so these are five off the top of my head which have always been go-to listens for writing inspiration.
Of course, when composing a list like this you have to include some sort of restrictions so that the album selection does not get too broad. (Picking too broad of a topic is the only thing I learned NOT to do in senior composition class.) Here are the limits I chose for myself:
- No two albums from the same band can be on this list. If I allowed myself to do that, all the albums here might be from The Beatles … might.
- No “Greatest Hits” albums are allowed either. In my opinion that would be cheating. I would then be picking the top 5 artists that have influenced my musical taste and songwriting, and I would not be keeping to the spirit of picking albums.
- Lastly, they had to be albums I had listened to before coming to Truman State. (Go Dawgs) If I had let myself pick albums I have discovered too recently then I would have impulse included them. (e.g. An album by Falling In Reverse)
Now for the list, and –as a disclaimer– no one can argue this list, because I said at the start it is top 5 that influenced ME as a musical artist. If you have a top 5 that influenced you then feel free to start your own blog and you can comment a link to it below, thanks.
Unwind : Oleander
So there is this game I like to play. It is called “Go-to-the-local-CD-store-and-buy-a-random-album-out-of-the-bargain-bin” and then I sometimes am pleasantly surprised by what I get. This was one of those times. (Other times I do not get a winner. Such as a few days ago, when I picked How Bizarre by omc) I had to survive through the first track but after that it was a decent listen. Definitely worth the 2 bucks I spent on it. I think it is an accomplishment that one of these songs actually uses the word “benign”. That is a win in my book.
My favorite track is Tightrope. The instruments are used perfectly and I love the lyrics/metaphors used. This song really holds the whole album together and is why it made it on my list. If you play guitar I recommend learning the tab because I find it super fun to play.
American Idiot : Green Day
- Give Me Novacaine
- Wake Me Up When September Ends
Brilliant album. I always think it is cool when a band is not the normal four instruments, and Green Day does a fantastic job with just three members. This album was basically all I listened to this past summer. I do not approve of all the language used on this album, there are definitely some rough spots I avoid, but the some of the songs just have very strong lyrics. Probably the best one lyrically, for me, is “Wake Me Up When September Ends”. I’m a sucker for songs that show the passing of time. Probably the best example of this is “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin. Green Day encompasses this with the lyrics saying, “seven years has gone so fast,” in the beginning, and in the end saying, “twenty years has gone so fast,” as well as, “Like my father’s come to pass.” This album can give you a wide variety of feelings from start to finish, and I think with different lyrics it would not have been near the substantial accomplishment it has become.
Five Score and Seven Years Ago : Relient K
- Up and Up
- Must Have Done Something Right
- The Best Thing
This album is included on Buzzfeed’s list of Pop Punk Albums you should hear before you die. As you can see I think it deserves it. The story of how I discovered this album is funny. A close relative left their case holding multiple CDs at the house when they left for college. One of them was this album burnt onto a disc and labeled in sharpie. As soon as I put it in I knew I had found something special, and the more I hear the first song the more I wish they had made it longer. All the lyrics reflect feelings I have often, and Relient K was the first example of a band that plays Christian based music, without being cheesy, that I had heard.
Once again one of my top songs is one that demonstrates time passing. Deathbed, although being super long, is my favorite on the album and it is comprised of a man reflecting on his life choices and how God has forgiven him.
Fourth From the Last : The W’s
- Alarm Clock
- Flower Tattoo
- The Devil Is Bad
- Open Minded
In terms of lyric writing, this album is a treasure chest. This is the first album I ever opened up and actually read the lyrics off of the cover pamphlet. That was because I had trouble at first understanding what all was being said. I couldn’t keep up, and Andrew Schar does a fantastic job with his rhyme placement. I loved their semi big band sound and how they would swing most songs. They were my introduction to ska and I have since become a major fan of the genre. The W’s make me wish I had been the age I am now, except two decades earlier.
No one song stands out exactly but all of them have gained my admiration due to the fact they are not extremely deep, just about everyday things, and yet they sound like so much more.
Please Please Me : The Beatles
- All of the tracks… basically
Since I had trouble picking just one Beatles album, I decided to pick the one with the most songs I knew. Please Please Me won because I knew 11 out of the 14 songs. (Sgt. Pepper’s almost got the win with 10 out of 13) Lennon-McCartney is probably the best songwriting duo that I have ever heard. This whole album encapsulates The Beatles that everyone remembers. Yes, some people remember the rooftop concert, but most people just think of the young boy Beatles when they imagine the band. The scream evoking mop-tops. I also really like this album because they truly poured themselves into it. I read the book Dreaming The Beatles by Rob Sheffield and he made a good point about how much the recording session meant to them. I believe that they spent something like 12 straight hours in the studio recording this record and you can tell, because by “Twist and Shout” Lennon’s voice is about to be gone. Such an album serves as inspiration to more than just me. It is for anyone that wants a quick education on how to write catchy songs.
Herman’s Hermits : Herman’s Hermits
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band : The Beatles
Every Second Counts : Plain White T’s
Thanks for reading, and I would love to hear your opinions on what albums have influenced your musical taste! Also, I know these are all rock-ish albums, and I mean no disrespect to the other musical genres, they all have great lyricists too!
None of these pictures are mine.