It may sound silly, but those words have effected me in different ways over the years. Spoken to me by a dear friend who is no longer with us, but lives through us everyday, Stuart Andres. At the time, I considered myself kind of a music maven, an elitist of sorts. In that, I missed out on a lot of stuff that was just there to make you feel something. It may not have been a social boundary tune, or a call for change, uprising, defeat, class war, a song for action or plight, or any of the like. Sometimes it’s just a song. It’s open for interpretation, a lot like artists that create visual pieces.
Music goes hand in hand, in my experience, in the creative process for visual artists. It may not always be an explorative nature, or an influence to direct work, but for me it is in the background as much as possible when I work on artwork. It helps a little with the separation of myself and what I am working on, sort of a barrier that makes it easier for me to step back and look at a piece a bit more from the outside. I don’t know exactly how to explain it. For me, personally, it just works.
I can, however, share with you some of my favorite artists, albums, and songs that over the years have cemented themselves as “go to” works that I enjoy while making something. I don’t think I will ever be able to possibly list them all. Nor would I expect anyone to go through the entirety of a lifetime of music in a blog post. I’ll continue to share more favorites in posts like this in the future. There’s a lot of music out there, and a lot to create.
Instead of throwing a quick “Top whatever” together, which is almost impossible to do, I will just share a few artists or albums that I have been listening to. Starting with these staples…
A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory
Pound for pound, probably a top 2 album all-time for me. Since it’s release, it has been a constant in my life. Upon it’s release in September of 1991, it completely changed me. It changed the way I looked at not only hip-hop as a whole, but all art. It was, and still is, one of the first albums I completely fell in love with, and it’s been on rotation since day one. A Tribe Called Quest, to people that know me well, are one of my absolute tops as far as artists go.
MILES DAVIS - KIND of BLUE
There’s no way I can aptly put into words what this album means to me, so I won’t try.
DE LA SOUL - STAKES IS HIGH
I generally celebrate De La’s entire catalogue, and 3 Feet High and Rising could easily be in this place as well. However, when ‘Stakes Is High’ was released in 1996 it completely changed the sound and delivery I was used to with De La Soul. They flipped on this album, and we all reaped the rewards. This has sonically been there for me through good times and bad, and I am grateful for the Plugs One, Two, and Three. It’s really just solid.
VAN MORRISON - MOONDANCE
I’ve been listening to this basically my entire life. I feel like this album’s sounds are interwoven into my being, and therefore it makes this first list. The first dance at our wedding was “Into The Mystic” and “It Stoned Me” and “Brand New Day” warm me like a blanket when I need comfort.
Top to bottom, it just works for me. Creatively, personally, and aurally.
WHODINI - ESCAPE
I had to add this to the first crop, absolutely. This was the first hip hop album I ever owned, and I absolutely loved it. When I was 9, the YMCA I went to had a “fair” and you could win door prizes. As luck would have it, I won. Among the selections of albums, books, trinkets and what not, was this album. It was sitting between a handpainted ceramic elk and Depeche Mode’s “Some Great Reward” album. I picked it out, and thus begun my journey into hip hop culture and it’s intricacies. It was this album that started it for me, and I am absolutely grateful for it. I even wrote the lyrics to “Escape (I Need A Break” as a report for music in elementary school. I still have them…
That will do it for this first handful of albums that shaped me. I’ll be posting these from time to time as a reminder to myself more than anything that “Sometimes music isn’t supposed to change the world. Sometimes it’s just meant for you to move your ass…”
Thanks, Stu. We miss you.
Notice Each Other.