Follow My Way: 5 music albums my wife introduced me to
In most cases, music taste is something intrinsically personal. Our music tastes are formed since our childhood and shaped as we grow, maturing, shifting, exploring. I can easily trace some of my most notable musical leanings to what my older brothers listened to when I was a kid; be it the crowd-pleasing arena rock of Bon Jovi or Def Leppard, the wild and partying antics of Van Halen, the smooth, laid-back reggae of Bob Marley, or the rhythmic salsa beats of El Gran Combo. As I grew up, my music tastes have shifted, varied, and expanded, but without leaving behind what I learned in my childhood. Those have remained, sprinkled with the ones I discovered on my own later.
But the musical growth never stops and I always find myself picking up tips of what to listen along the way. Some random and passing influences, and others stronger and more steadfast. With my brothers as my main influence on one side, the strongest influence on my musical taste in recent years has been my wife.
Ever since we met eight years ago, we’ve begun this “symbiotic” relationship where I’ve grown so much in every aspect of my life thanks to her. Aside from the most complicated and personal things, one of the things where I’ve learned from her is in music. Since we were dating, it would be customary to just put some music in the background, whether in the house or the car. And ever since, intentionally or not, I’ve been feeding off her musical tastes like I did with my brothers.
These albums are just some of the ones she has introduced me to, and probably the ones I most frequently go back to.
Flamingos - Bunbury
To start some lists, one has to start at the beginning. And there is no more appropriate start to this list than Bunbury's Flamingos. Because starting with this album is starting when things more or less "started" for me and my wife. Being a fan of Enrique Bunbury for some time, she had mentioned it to me several times before we met, and on our first date, she brought the CD to the car. So listening to this album is listening to our first date "play".
For those that don't know him, Bunbury is a Spanish singer and songwriter that started his career as the singer of the group Héroes del Silencio during the late 80's. After breaking up in 1996, Bunbury began a solo career highlighted by experimentation and a desire to not be typecasted as a rock singer. Although anchored by some rock grooves, Flamingos is not particularly a rock album. It is rich with multiple instruments and varied sounds that infuse the music with an other-wordly sound that goes beyond mere rock.
Favorite songs: "Sacame de Aquí", "El Club de los Imposibles"
Bunbury "Sacame de Aquí"
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots - The Flaming Lips
Quirky, weird, unique... those would be some words that we could use to describe The Flaming Lips album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots; or heck, the band itself. With a weird title in itself, the album sets out to present the weird story of a fighter called Yoshimi as she battles a group of pink robots. If it sounds weird it's because it is. The story is weird, just like the sound is weird. That doesn't mean it's bad, but rather one of the most original albums I've heard, and a fun one to listen to.
Held by most fans as the band's peak, the psychedelic album features not only theatrical compositions, but off-key vocals, weird sound effects, and perhaps a child-like vibe that might distract some from the complexity of the music. But in the bottom of it all lies a unique album, quirky, weird, and unique.
Favorite songs: "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part 1", "Fight Test", "Do You Realize?"
The Flaming Lips "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part 1"
Euphoria Morning - Chris Cornell
Chris Cornell is best known as the lead singer of either Soundgarden or Audioslave. But in between each band, he dedicated some time to try a solo career. Two years after the break-up of Soundgarden in 1997, Cornell released his first solo effort titled Euphoria Morning. This album is easily one of the most pleasant albums for me to listen to. It has such an easygoing, lounge-like sound to it that makes it so relaxing.
The album features little to no crunch in the guitars, instead replaced by some twang and laid-back riffs, accompanied by a smooth piano and simple drums, which makes for a very soothing sound. Most of the music feels as if you were sitting at a calm nightclub, with dim lights and slow music. As for the vocals, they flow so effortlessly from Cornell. His voice is impeccable as usual, but with less rasp and more of a soulful vibe.
Favorite songs: "When I'm Down", "Moonchild", "Sweet Euphoria"
Chris Cornell "Follow My Way"
Absolution - Muse
Muse is popular now. In the last few years, the English band has become one of the most popular "new" bands and one of the biggest live shows ever. But back in 2006, this was not the case. At the time I was introduced to them, I had never heard of them. Needless to say, after my wife introduced me to it, it skyrocketed to become one of my favorite bands ever, and Absolution still stands as their best effort.
This is one of those albums that when I put it on, I have to listen whole because once it starts, it feels incomplete to skip a song or stop it before it ends. The energy in the music, the almost ethereal vibe of it, lead singer Matthew Bellamy's switch from soft voice to high-pitched shriek... everything about it is perfect, and makes for one of the most vibrant albums I've listened.
Favorite songs: "Stocholm Syndrome", "Apocalypse Please", "Time Is Running Out"
Muse "Stockholm Syndrome"
Whiskey for the Holy Ghost - Mark Lanegan
Mark Lanegan's second solo album is perhaps the last of these albums that I got into, so perhaps it is suitable to end the list with it. I didn't pay much attention to this album at first, but after giving it a try recently, it has become one of my favorite albums. Period. Like the above-mentioned Bunbury, Lanegan had come from great success as the lead singer of a rock band (Screaming Trees), but after venturing into a solo career, he decided to steer away from the genre people knew him for.
The cover of Whiskey for the Holy Ghost features a table with some whiskey and cigarettes in it, like something taken straight out of a Western saloon. And that's precisely how the album and its music feels. The vibe of it is as if you were sitting in a dark saloon, in an Old West town, listening to the soulful vibe of a drawlin' singer. There are rumors that Lanegan was heavily using drugs during the recording. Perhaps in spite of, or because of, but the album carries a certain raw emotion that draws you into each song. Certainly one that will be with me to stay.
Favorite songs: "River Rise", "Carnival", "Riding the Nightingale", "Sunrise"
Mark Lanegan "River Rise"
So each one of you that reads this Hub, take this as you may: as a musical recommendation, or as a personal ode to my marriage. Truth is that my wife has had an impact in every aspect of my life, including music; and, being the "symbiotic" relationship I mentioned above, I’d like to think I’ve had the same impact on her life as well.
I don’t think it’s necessary for a couple to share musical tastes, as long as they at least share some other common interests, but I can say it’s really cool when the two of us can sit back and enjoy the same songs. It's been 7 years that I've been following her way. Here's to many more.