Sammi recently asked me to name my top five albums from high school. I gave her the top three below immediately, and added the other two after thinking about it a bit. Here goes:
- Counting Crows, August and Everything After
- The Cranberries, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?
- Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill
- Garbage, Garbage
- R.E.M., Automatic For The People
August and Everything After is the first CD I ever bought. (The second was STP’s Core, but I didn’t listen to it nearly as often as the other four on the list.) I listened to it a lot, and still do sometimes. I was all about Counting Crows for a really long time, even after I met Adam Duritz and discovered he was a total dick. Anyway, I know it’s not cool to like Counting Crows, but this and my (big fat whoop) autographed copy of Recovering The Satellites are among my most worn and loved CDs. I really like to sing along to both albums, and they’re road trip staples.
I think it’s probably fair to say that The Cranberries were my high school version of Jeff Buckley, who was my college version of, probably, Coldplay (especially Parachutes-era Coldplay). I listened to this album a lot when the weather was bad and/or I was feeling moody. And, evidently, I listened to “Linger” so many times in the presence of my sisters that even now when they talk about me in high school, they make jokes about that song. “Linger” was the very dramatic soundtrack to a very long, dramatic, and drawn-out crush that resulted in an official relationship that lasted for six days. In contrast, the crush consumed me for six months or more. Turned out the guy wasn’t terribly bright and was most interested in basketball, hunting, and gangster rap, and I couldn’t care less about any of the three. I spent every waking moment of those six days dropping “my boyfriend” into conversations and then abruptly dumped him, cried for five minutes probably just for dramatic effect, and moved on with my life. I don’t listen to EEIDISWCW very often anymore, but I pulled it out again recently and it holds up pretty well. I will say that I hated the song “Dreams,” and still hate it to this day. And I don’t own any Cranberries albums after this one and I am cool with that too. This is the only one that grabbed me.
And now we get to Jagged Little Pill. I owned JLP on cassette AND on CD, and I’m not kidding when I tell you that I probably listened to it for a year and a half straight. The weird thing is that I have almost nothing to say about it now. I listened to it all the time. All the freaking time. I remember listening to it in my friend Shelby’s car on the way to and from hockey games, and I remember loaning her the cassette copy and not getting it back for a very long time. I also remember listening to it in my first car when I was driving shortly after having foot surgery. After all the time I spent with that album, you’d think I’d have more to say about it. I don’t, really. And furthermore, I listened to it in the car today and found most of it pretty boring, and while I never skipped any tracks back in high school, I now completely detest at least four songs on the album. And I hate everything else Alanis has done since.
I sang “Only Happy When It Rains” one time on a stage in some other high school’s auditorium at a forensics tournament, and it made a nerdy boy named Brian fall in love with me for like an entire hour. It wasn’t an official performance or anything – we were just hanging around waiting for the judges to come back with scores, and the stage was dressed for a show, and it had a living room set and we were sitting around on the couches goofing off and I just kind of sang the song. I had no idea that it had a magical effect on Brian until he came up to me at a later tournament and confessed that the song always made him think of me and he wanted to know if he could call me. I am pretty sure that’s the first time I faked a boyfriend to get out of a conversation. I was such an asshole. Also, I should share that I bought the Garbage album primarily to have the case in plain sight in my backpack so that people would think I was cool. Oh, and because the video for “Stupid Girl” kicked ass. But I actually turned out to like it and listened to it a lot. It’s another one I don’t spend much time with anymore, though.
Of the five albums on this list, Automatic For The People is the only one that still feels current. In fact, I had to look up its release date to remember that I got it in high school. I feel like I’ve had it forever. I feel like it just came out. When asked to name my favorite albums of all time, it’s very difficult for me to narrow the list down, but this is always on the list. I’ve written about “Nightswimming” before, and it’s one of my favorite songs in the world, but the truth is that I feel a personal connection with most of the other songs on the album too. Automatic For The People has grown with me over the years and I’ve come to appreciate different parts about it in different places in my life. I’ve changed so, so much since high school, and I listen to a ton of music now that I’d never even heard of back then. I was definitely not cool, and I was not on the cutting edge of anything, and I didn’t know myself at all. So it’s interesting that I stumbled across one of the most important albums in my life back then.
I may have to do this with some college albums soon, although the list might be longer than five.
How about you guys – what are your top five or so albums from high school? Do any of them hold up today?