Music is a big deal where I work at and I hear a lot of it on their radio that I don’t like. No matter how well I try to appreciate music after the 1980s, “I like that old-time rock ‘n’ roll” best. Of course, my definition of old-time rock ‘n’ roll differs from some of my older friends who grew up listening to singers like Elvis, Pat Boone, and Little Richard.
The music I grew up listening to is the background soundtrack of my life right now. It’s what I play when I’m writing, making art, driving, or just kicking back and being cool, daddio. (Sorry. I’m too young to have been a beatnik, but I couldn’t resist throwing daddio out there. My generation would have said “man,” which lacks poetic finesse.)
My life’s soundtrack takes me back to the 1960s and 70s. The albums listed below are off the top of my head and ones I still listen to. (I kept the list at 10, which omitted many other albums that are part of my background soundtrack.) They all packed a punch to my heart and soul when I put needle to their black and shiny vinyl those many years ago.
Here they are, chronologically.
The Beatles – Revolver, Capital Records version, released in 1966
Revolver was the first Beatles album I owned because my Beatle Fan cousin didn’t like it. What? How is that possible? Anyway, my dad was not a fan of the band, so I had to keep it under lock and key and listen to it with headphones on. The music blew me away. Got To Get You Into My Life was my theme song for many years.
Love You To
Here, There And Everywhere
She Said She Said
Good Day Sunshine
For No One
I Want To Tell You
Got To Get You Into My Life
Tomorrow Never Knows
Steppenwolf – Steppenwolf 7, released in 1970
In 1969, I became a paperboy in my little hometown and delivered the “big city” newspaper trucked in from the shores of Lake Erie, so I could suddenly afford $5 albums instead of the usual 25-cent 45s. My first Steppenwolf album was the band’s fifth studio album for Dunhill Records. None of the songs made the top 40. But all were instant hits to me. They still are.
Forty Days And Forty Nights
Foggy Mental Breakdown
Who Needs Ya’
Sugarloaf – Sugarloaf, released in 1970
Yes, I played Green-Eyed Lady to death when it became my favorite go-to song when I was feeling down. I was 13; nuff said. The rest of the album has great rock rhythms and riffs to perk up your day.
The Train Kept A-Rollin’ (Stroll On)
Medley: Bach Doors Man / Chest Fever
West Of Tomorrow
Gold And The Blues
Things Are Gonna Change Some
Yes – Fragile, Released in 1971
Although I thought The Yes Album, which came before this one, was the greatest progressive rock album ever, Fragile blew me away. So did the following album, Close To The Edge, which gets an honorable mention. In fact, I can go weeks just listening to these three albums and nothing else.
Cans And Brahms
We Have Heaven
South Side Of The Sky
Five Per Cent For Nothing
Long Distance Runaround
The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)
Mood For A Day
Heart Of The Sunrise
The Who – Who’s Next, Released in 1971
I had the 45-rpm I Can See For Miles by The Who that I played to death, and I had heard their Tommy album a few times at school in my English and creative studies classes before I bought the Who’s Next album in 1971. A few months later, I bought their compilation album Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy and wore out several needles playing the two albums. But Who’s Next is my favorite—a classic!
Love Ain’t For Keeping
The Song Is Over
Getting In Tune
Behind Blue Eyes
Won’t Get Fooled Again
Deep Purple – Machine Head, Released in 1972
Deep Purple’s most successful album. I never tire of Space Truckin’, Highway Star, and, of course, Smoke On The Water.
Maybe I’m A Leo
Pictures Of Home
Smoke On the Water
Uriah Heep – The Magician’s Birthday, Released in 1972
I had a “hard rock, acid rock” friend who was a fan of Ken Hensley from a band called The Gods. When he found out that Hensley was with a new group called Uriah Heep, he bought their albums. One of our favorite albums was Salisbury, and we played Side 1 until we wore it out. I still love those songs: High Priestess, The Park, Time To Live, and Lady In Black. When Mercury Records released The Magician’s Birthday by Uriah Heep, I bought it immediately and never regretted it. This is probably Heep’s greatest album—great stuff for heavy rock fans, though Hensley pens some nice gentle songs too.
Echoes In The Dark
The Magician’s Birthday
Moody Blues – This Is The Moody Blues, Released in 1974
I had many 45s by the Moody Blues that I liked before I bought this compilation album and wore it out. It has been my go-to album for many years.
Eyes Of A Child
Legend Of A Mind
In The Beginning
Lovely To See You
Never Comes the Day
Isn’t Life Strange
Have You Heard (Part 1)
Have You Heard (Part 2)
Ride My See-Saw
And The Tide Rushes In
A Simple Game
Watching And Waiting
I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)
For My Lady
The Story In Your Eyes
Nights In White Satin
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here, Released in 1975
Everyone loved Dark Side Of The Moon, including me. But Wish You Were Here was my go-to album for many years.
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I–V)
Welcome To The Machine
Have A Cigar
Wish You Were Here
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI–IX)
Queen – A Night At The Opera, released 1975
I had graduated high school in May before this album came out in November. This is Queen’s first album and IMHO, their best.
Death On Two Legs (Dedicated to…)
Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon
I’m In Love With My Car
You’re My Best Friend
The Prophet’s Song
Love Of My Life
God Save The Queen