12 Albums

While sorting through digital detritus I came across this, which I must have posted to Facebook in response to someone having tagged me.  It’s something I am normally loath to do, and I certainly did not tag anyone else.  But this was fun to remember and write, and I want to save it.  Here is as good a place as any!

The rules: Copy this and post as your status, but delete my list. List 12 albums IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER that made a lasting impression on you, but only 1 per band/artist. Tag 12 friends to do the same, including me, so I can see what you listed.


In no particular order:

1) The Roaring 20’s – Volume 4; Enoch Light and his Charleston City All-Stars

It’s a good thing my parents had two copies of this.  I’m pretty sure I wore one out!

2) Free To Be You And Me; Marlo Thomas & Friends

There’s a whole lot of Empathy and Golden Rule baked into this gem.  Lots of stories about how we’re all different and should realize and respect those differences.

3) Cocktails For Two; Spike Jones

My first experience with musical humor.

4) That Was The Year That Was; Tom Lehrer

The man is a genius and left the business when he was on top.  I know every song on this album by heart.

5) Pot Luck With Elvis; Elvis Presley

The rhythm of “Kiss Me Quick” was something I just couldn’t get enough of.

6) White Christmas; Bing Crosby

Christmas Morning would not be complete without it!

7) Xanadu Motion Picture Soundtrack; Olivia Newton-John and ELO

My favorite movie of all time, and my favorite soundtrack of all time!

8) Super Trouper; ABBA

I love everything they ever did, but to me this represents the zenith of their career.  If you can only own one ABBA album, own this one.

9) The Little Mermaid; Soundtrack

This movie heralded Disney’s much-overdue return to motion picture animation.  Menken and Ashman outdid themselves.

10) Uptown Girl; Billy Joel

Since I can only pick one per artist, this is the one I pick from Billy.

11) Delirious; Eddie Murphy

This album re-defined “raunch” for kids of a certain age.  Part of the fun and thrill was knowing we probably shouldn’t have been listening to it at our age…

And last, but certainly not least:

12) Allan Sherman’s Mother Presents: My Son The Folk Singer; Allan Sherman

One day while going through my parents’ record collection this cover caught my eye.  I don’t know if it was the pretty lady in the cocktail dress or the fact that she was holding a dead chicken; the fat, bald guy standing on the pedestal playing a guitar or the fact that he was barefoot; or the biggest (what looked like) sausage I had ever seen hanging from a tray being supported by a stone statue of a naked baby.  But I had to know what was on this record!

The album was 1962’s “Allan Sherman’s mother presents: My Son, The Folk Singer”.  The melodies of some of the songs were familiar.  I recognized “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic” in “The Ballad of Harry Lewis” and “Greensleeves” in “Sir Greenbaum’s Madrigal,” but the lyrics were different.  Many of them were outright funny to me in my pre-pubescent state.  “My Zelda found her big romance, when I broke the zipper in my pants,” sounded dirty (though I didn’t know why).  Regardless, it made me giggle.  Listening to Sherman say “Oh boy…” over and over in the midst of a comical string of pop culture references recorded almost 30 years before Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire” had me in fits.  And listening to the back-and-forth between Sherman and Christine Nelson in “Sarah Jackman” (Frére Jaques) was voyeuristic, like picking up on the party line at our camp and putting your hand over the mouthpiece.  But most of the material was over my head and only “funny” because the audience on the album was laughing.

This was my first taste of Borscht Belt humor, though I obviously didn’t know that’s what it was called at the time.  Not being Jewish, I didn’t understand most of the cultural references; not that I would at that age anyhow.  I have spent my life subconsciously tracking them all down.  My research is not overt, but every so often I will hear one and my brain will say, “Ah!  So THAT’S what ‘B’nai B’rith’ means!” or “THAT’S who David Susskind was!”

Judging by the reaction of the audience on the album, if nothing else, Sherman is hilarious without working blue.  I spent many hours listening, re-listening, and singing along to that record.  There are some references to which I am still not hip.  In this day of Wikipedia it would be trivial for me to track down each and every one about which I have question.  But there’s no romance in that.  My subconscious research continues.  Though I do wish someone would explain why the line “Stein with an ‘e-i’ and Styne with a ‘y'” is funny…