The Top Three

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In the book High Fidelity (and in its film adaptation) musical top five lists were immortalized and, for many readers or viewers, strung tightly to their idea of music lovers, music geeks and music snobs. For this music geek, ranking albums, songs and musicians by top three, top five, top whatever has always felt like an impossible task. Once I name my top five desert island albums, I remember how much I love Television's Marquee Moon, or Wire's Pink Flag and can't believe I left them off the list. Just like once you think of the top five guitar solos ever, Prince will cover While My Guitar Gently Weeps at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and blow them all out of the water. Why do we have to limit ourselves when we don't really need to?

For me, the only system of ranking that should matter is how music affects a person's life. How do songs, albums, lyrics provide a soundtrack to our experiences? How do they help us grow, figure out who we are, or just figure out how to really enjoy life?

With that in mind, I asked some other local musically-inclined friends to share their three life changing albums. Below, you'll find lists from rockers, DJs, writers and a number of other folks. And, at the bottom, I've listed my own top three. Below that, I hope you'll list yours. In the end, I hope you explore some of the music listed below. I promise it'll be worth it:

Jon Rogers, Musical Family Tree, Everything Now!
1. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
2. Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
3. The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin

Kat Coplen - Music Editor, Nuvo Newsweekly
1. Okkervil River - The Stage Names
2. Murder By Death - Like the Exorcist, but More Breakdancing
3. The Mountain Goats - All Hail West Texas

Vess Von Ruhtenberg - United States Three, The Pieces, Zero Boys
1. Beatles - White Album
2. Serge Gainsbourg - Histoire de Melody Nelson
3. Buzzcocks - Single Going Steady

Roy Griffith, Owner - The Turntable Shoppe
1. The Sorrows - Take a Heart
2. David Bowie - Diamond Dogs
3. Tame Impala - Innerspeaker

Ken Honeywell, Yoko Moment , Punchnels,  Well Done Marketing
1. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
2. Bob Dylan - Greatest Hits, Vol. 2
3. Red House Painters - Red House Painters (The Rollercoaster Album)

Benjamin Jones, Founder - Perfect Sides Listening Collective
1. Sam Cooke - Best of Sam Cooke
2. Swervedriver - Raise
3. Guns 'n Roses - Appetite for Destruction

John Bowyer, Old Truck Revival, Punkin' Holler Boys
1. Townes Van Zandt - Rearview Mirror
2. Adam Carroll  - Far Away Blues
3. Justin Townes Earle - Yuma

Shawn Woolfolk - Joyful Noise Recordings, Ha Ha You
1. Pavement - Slanted And Enchanted
2. Neil Young - On The Beach
3. David Bowie - Hunky Dory

Sharon Rickson, Girls Rock! Indianapolis
1. Red Aunts - Ghetto Blaster
2. Naked Raygun - Understand
3. Brian Eno - Here Come The Warm Jets

John Zeps, Vibes Music, Indianapolis Guitar Genius
1. Kiss - Destroyer
2. Queen - News Of The World
3. Metallica - Ride The Lighting

Karl Hofstetter, Joyful Noise
1. Melvins - Honkey
2. Don Cabellaro - What Burns Never Returns
3. Folk Implosion - Take A Look Inside


I struggled to pick three. There are so many! I picked three that spanned different time periods over the last 25 years.

1. The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground
I credit this album with saving my life at 15 years old. Back then, I regularly found myself black t-shirted, angsty, misunderstood, uncomfortable in my own body and regularly in some sort of trouble. I pressed play and the album asked the same questions to me that I had been asking the universe: Maybe when I'm older/what do you think I'd see/If I could walk away from me?

2. Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information
The quick breath before the first track begins on this album is like the final meditative breath before the realization of Nirvana, or the abolition of suffering.  It's the entryway to bliss.  The bass notes throughout the album correspond directly with neurotransmitters firing in my brain. Don't miss him at the Vogue this September.

3. George Harrison - All Things Must Pass
The newest addition to my list. My connecting deeply with this album coincided with my understanding and acceptance of being a full grown adult, and that it was okay. This is what it sounds like when someone loves life and has the good sense to be grateful for it, warts and all.

What are your three life changing albums?

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