It wasn’t long ago that my musical landscape was shaped with bands like matchbox twenty, Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crows and John Mayer, among others. Those were the people I listened to on a highly consistent basis; that is, until I heard The Last Waltz and everything changed.
I do still listen to matchbox or early Mayer from time to time (currently I’m listening DMB’s Crash) but they’ve been swept under the rug by The Velvet Underground, Pere Ubu, Dead Kennedys, Neil Young, etc.
But when I do put them on, it fills me with a sense of remembrance. For instance, matchbox twenty’s first album Yourself or Someone Like You is the first “real” album that I knew from first lyric to last (I say “real” because The Lion King soundtrack doesn’t really count) while I associate DMB’s Before These Crowded Streets with the summer that I spent at my Dad’s house in Saratoga Springs working at the horse track.
As many times as I’ve listened to Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde or The Clash’s The Clash, it’s got a long way to go before catching up on some of these albums. I’ve also seen all of those artists more times than I’ve seen my current favorite, Dylan: 3 times for matchbox and Counting Crows, 2 for DMB and 1 for Mayer.
While matchbox may sound a little thin to me now, I can’t say the same for Counting Crows. They’re the one that I’m not ashamed to say that I listened to on a borderline-religious basis. Lead singer Adam Duritz, is still one of the more gifted lyricists around. Take this line from one of my favorite songs of all-time, “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby”:
“All the blue light reflections that color my mind when I sleep
And the lovesick rejections that accompany the company I keep
All the razor perceptions that cut just a little too deep
Hey I can bleed as well as anyone, but I need someone to help me sleep
So I throw my hand into the air and it swims in the beams
It's just a brief interruption of the swirling dust sparkle jet stream
Well, I know I don't know you and you're probably not what you seem
But I'd sure like to find out
So why don't you climb down off that movie screen.”
You don’t find that much depth in a lot of today’s music—let alone during the mid to late-60s.
Like many people I know, I’m not ashamed of what I listened to when music first started to become more than just a song I like, but rather something much more than that. Well, maybe I should be a little ashamed for I did Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP when it was released in 2000. If you don't believe me, ask my father who I believe is still mortified with me.
Anyways, to the list!
Five Best…Albums of pre-Last Waltz Josh
#5. Room for Squares…John Mayer
#4. Warning…Green Day
#3. Yourself or Someone Like You…matchbox twenty
#2. August and Everything After…Counting Crows
#1. Before These Crowded Streets…Dave Matthews Band