1. Stevie Wonder | Earth's Creation
Age 3. Plus First Garden. These are the most epic keyboard compositions of all time. They start at Earth's Creation and somehow take you from there through early single cell organisms, dinosaurs, their extinction, and to early human civilization. This may have influenced how I feel about keyboards and hyper-synthetic sounds, as if they could express realities, or maybe parallel meta-realities, like nothing else on this physical plane.
2. Pointer Sisters | Jump
Age 6. I didn't pay attention to the lyrics of this song, at least the parts about love or feel my touch, but I was really into the basic idea of jump, and the pure excitement that a totally generic, completely satisfying 80s drum pattern and bassline could generate.
3. Joe Jackson | Steppin Out
Age 9. The jazz chords and magical cosmopolitanism of this song affected me pretty heavily as a kid, before I knew anything about piano bars and tuxedos and high heels. I guess all that stuff works better as a mood than a lifestyle anyway.
4. The Cure | Pictures Of You
Age 12. I actually did listen to the lyrics of this song. They're so sad. All Robert Smith has is pictures of you, because he said one wrong thing, and now you're gone and he just stares at the pictures all the time until they seem real. And the music sounds so sad too, but a very exotic, digitally-produced sadness, like a wilting, computer-generated lotus blossom melting into a lake of fairy tears.
5. Frank Zappa | Little Umbrellas
Age 15. Music-listening was too political as a teenager, and Frank Zappa stood somewhere outside of the tangle. I could like his music, free of any high school associations. I really loved Hot Rats in its entirety, but this song felt the most poignant, with long melodies and lots of rich harmonies and orchestration, but kind of grounded in boredom at the same time.
6. Talking Heads | This Must Be The Place
Age 18. I saw Stop Making Sense before I ever really started playing in bands and it totally blew my mind. I can't hear the song without seeing the lamp dance.
7. Harmonia | Musik Von Harmonia
Age 21. This album gave me a little bit of the same feeling as Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants, except that instead of dinosaurs or ancient Mesopotamia, I could see ferns sprouting out of my carpet, processions of courtly amoebas, and my face melting into primordial slime.
8. Sade | War Of The Hearts
Age 24. Waiting for the bus in downtown Brooklyn...Wet asphalt and sad office workers. I'm not sure why that association makes me like the song more. Was I embracing my own pain-body a little too hard, or just happy that music could elevate the totally mundane? Someone else told me recently that Sade's Promise got him through a 6 month prison sentence. What!?
9. Mr. Fingers | Washing Machine
Age 27. This is such and amazing song, and an amazing album (Amnesia). It's all totally danceable and emotive with very basic production and compositional restraint. Larry Heard creates something very complex out of simpler layered and interlocking patterns.
10. Future World Orchestra | I'm Not Afraid Of The Future
Age 29. Good message. Don't be afraid. And anything that sounds like YMO is okay with me.