Many people on Facebook are posting 20 music albums that have influenced their lives so I though I would post albums that have influenced me. But in blog form. I am posting them in the order I remember listening to them throughout my life. My posts will not be in order of which is my favorite or which influenced me the most. I’m not posting children albums like The Jungle Book, Mary Poppins, Sesame Street, etc. While I did like these albums as a child they were just fun, but not influential
The first adult album I can remember listening to is The Best of Peter Paul and Mary (TEN YEARS TOGETHER). This was probably in 1970 or 1971. Peter Paul and Mary broke up after this album and there they didn’t perform together again until their Reunion album in 1978.
I can still see myself sitting in my room in Chauncey Avenue in West Lafayette Indiana and listening to the wonderful songs and the amazing images they produced in my mind as the record spun on the small portable one speaker record player I had. The kind of record player that was made out of thick cardboard. It was kind of like a box that had a lid you could close up and would play at 33, 45, and 78 RPMs. I know most of you 60s and 70s kids had the same one and know what I’m talking about. It probably look close to this one from Sears.
It was magical. I’m sure that a lot of the to feelings I have for this album, though the originated when I listened as an adolescent, have changed as I have grown older and I understood the meanings of them better. Or as as life events have changed my views on the world around me.
The order of songs on this album are the following
- “Blowin’ in the Wind”, (Bob Dylan)
- “Too Much of Nothing” (Bob Dylan)
- “Lemon Tree” (Will Holt)
- “Stewball” (Elena Mezzetti-Stookey-Okun-Travers)
- “500 Miles” (Hedy West)
- “I Dig Rock and Roll Music” (Stookey-James Mason-Dave Dixon)
- “If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)” (Pete Seeger-Lee Hayes)
- “Early Morning Rain” (Gordon Lightfoot)
- “Leaving on a Jet Plane” (John Denver)
- “Puff (The Magic Dragon)” (Peter Yarrow-Leonard Lipton)
- “For Lovin’ Me” (Gordon Lightfoot)
- “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” (Bob Dylan)
- “Day Is Done” (Peter Yarrow)
Puff (The Magic Dragon) was probably the song on this album that made me fall in love with this album. I was five or six year old and the thought of having a pet magic dragon was so cool to me. Later in life I heard the theories that this song was about smoking marijuana and that may be true but the authors have always rejected this. Peter Yarrow has always insisted the song is about growing up and loosing the innocence of childhood. This is how I felt about the song way back 50 years ago and still think the same today.
“Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honali”
Stewball was the next song I loved on this album. Even though I had no clue that it was about an actual horse. The song is so well written that I could see the race happening and the sadness of the man who loved Stewball but bet against it and now had no money to go home. I could see the silver bridle and golden mane flowing in the wind.
“Oh Stewball was a racehorse, and I wish he were mine.
He never drank water, he always drank wine.”
If I had a Hammer was a fun song that we even sang in school during school choir. Growing up in the shadow of the Viet-Nam war I don’t know if I understood at such a young age that the song was being sung a call for peace. Today I know it was actually a Communist Party of the United State folk song. Regardless, I loved the thought of the hammer, bell, and song that were used to bring peace and freedom.
It’s the hammer of Justice,
It’s the bell of Freedom,
It’s the song about Love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.
500 Miles was a kinda spooky and sad song and I imagined the person singing it being on a train, leaving home, losing everything they had, and never returning home. During the time this song was popular the Viet-Nam war and Hippy movement were in full swing. Today I can see how it was kind of a theme song for those that were drafted and sent away to war and those hippies that ran away from home to protest the war.
“If you miss the train I’m on, you will know that I am gone
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles,”
Early Morning Rain is still one of my favorite songs to this day. Can’t imagine what drew me to it when I was young and maybe it didn’t. Maybe it wasn’t until I got older that I could relate to the song of lost hope, lost fortune, and lost love. It is such a strong song that can conjure up many feelings in me. Standing at the end of a runway in the rain with no money and watching a silver airplane with the person you love flying away and never coming back really tugs at my heart Lemon Tree was and still is today a song that reminds me of my father. The song is about how a father gives his son some advice so that he won’t get hurt by a broken heart. And like many sons he does the exact opposite of the wise words his father says to him. I think many men can see themselves in the song as can I myself.
“Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.”
Leaving on a Jet Plane has way too many connections to my life. I could probably write an entire book on this song and how it reflects different times in my life beginning in 1974 when my parents divorced. I won’t go into it now but just know that this song tugs at my emotions so much and though I love the song it reminds me of sad and lonely times in my life.
“All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go, I’m standing here outside your door. I hate to wake you up to say good-bye
But the dawn is breaking, it’s early morn, the taxi’s waiting He’s blowing his horn. Already I’m so lonesome I could die
So kiss me and smile for me, tell me that you’ll wait for me. Hold me like you’ll never let me go”
The other songs, Too Much of Nothing, Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, For Loving Me, I Dig Rock and Roll, and Day is Done as also awesome songs and I can see myself in all of them. If you have never listened to this album I wish you would. Each song was so wonderful. The album seems almost like an opera, a story of life. I for one can see a lot of my over 50 years of living in these songs.