Mr. Nola Nerd Couple Music Podcast Episode 18: My Favorite Albums of 2016

I didn’t listen to as many new albums as I would have like to this year.  I did, however, listen to a lot of great ones.  This is by no means a best of list.  This is a list of my favorite albums of the year.  In other words, the ones that I listened to the most…the ones I kept coming back to over and over.

All the albums in the podcast are on Spotify.

 

 

 

Listening: David Bowie

I was too young to remember Elvis dying.  I remember John Lennon’s death and how it affected others but I was too young to feel it.

I feel it.  It keeps hitting me.  I had to pause in class today when a student brought it up.  The people I saw on television in 77 and 80 make sense to me now. The grief you have for someone you never met and truly didn’t know can be just as powerful as it for someone you know intimately.

I keep trying to write my thoughts and feelings about David Bowie in this blog.  I’ve written and deleted five different versions.  Nothing seems to suffice.  I see tweets from more creative people say in 140 characters what I’m struggling to say.

 

His character studies from his first album developed into fully formed characters he became.  He was fearless.  He never really settled even in his low point creatively in 80s.  When I listen to the Cure’s Pornography, The Top, Head on the Door, Kiss Me, and Disintegration, I marvel at how they are all different from each other.  The same goes for The Bends, OK Computer, and Kid A by Radiohead.  How did they transform themselves so thoroughly while still remaining true to themselves?  Well, they had Bowie’s blueprint of course.

Bowie must have truly looked like he came from Mars to Nixon voters in the seventies.  He was the hero for the people that didn’t fit in.  Even when he became a pop star in the 80s, he ended up rejecting it for something he wanted to hear.

Iman said that she never fell in love with David Bowie.  He was just a persona, a character, like Ziggy, Aladdin Sane, and the Thin White Duke.  She fell in love with David Jones not the characters.  I have a feeling that to embody those characters, David Jones/Bowie had to truly know who he was and what he wanted his art to be.

My obsession for Bowie is recent.   It also came at the right time.  I was middle-aged and truly happy for the first time in my life. I found someone who truly loved me for being me.  Bowie reminded me that doesn’t mean I have to be normal.  My wife fell in love with the oddity, the kid who on the inside doesn’t feel like he fits in, the kid who doesn’t see the world as most people he knows.  Bowie reminded me that I didn’t have to be complacent.  He reminded me that personas are ok.  I can be one persona with my friends, another when I’m teaching, another when I’m writing this blog. I just have to let parts of me shine through. Most importantly, he taught me that I’m not alone. With those that truly love us, we have to be ourselves.  Because no matter how much things hurt or how much things are wonderful, all you can do is give them your hands.

Because we are wonderful.

Vinyl Collecting: Crate Digging or Why I Collect Vinyl

2013 Record Store Day Haul.  Spooky insisted in being in the picture.

2013 Record Store Day Haul. Spooky insisted in being in the picture.

It sounds better.  It has more warmth.  Life is full of surface noise.  The artwork is better.  It is how music should be heard!

Those are the arguments usually made by people who collect vinyl.  The first two are hard to prove.  Yes, life is full of surface noise but sometimes that noise is annoying. Of course, vinyl artwork is better…you can actually see it.  To get to the point of this article, it is how I prefer to listen to music.

I just started collecting vinyl last Record Store Day.   I started collecting vinyl to listen to it.  I do not see the point in collecting a vinyl LP that I will not ever play. I will be collecting many records that I already own digitally or could easily find on Spotify.

So why collect vinyl?

The best answer I have is that I just enjoy it.  Often when I listen to digital music, which is the way I listen to most music, I am doing something else.  I am working, cleaning, studying, or reading.  When I listen to vinyl that is usually all I am doing.  I may be looking at the artwork, reading the liner notes, and studying the lyrics but that is still focusing on the music. I feel I am giving the attention to the music that it deserves.  This also explains why I buy a lot of music I have already heard.  A lot vinyl lovers hate on digital and subscriber services.  To me they are invaluable as there is no way I would have heard Sufjan Stevens, The National, Vampire Weekend, or Deafheaven without it.  Moreover, I would not be searching for their vinyl without it.

My goal is to buy mostly first releases.   This will mean mostly used albums. I love to crate dig.  Finding a near mint copy of Darkness on the Edge of Town between Andy Williams albums in Elegant Endeavors in Panama City, Florida gives me a thrill.  The prize of my collection is “Heroes” by David Bowie that I found in the used area of The Mushroom in New Orleans.  The look of jealousy by the clerk is probably what hooked me into collecting vinyl.  I do buy some new vinyl, but those are usually by new artists.  180-gram vinyl is very expensive which means I need to be very judicious in what I buy.   A reissue such as Closer by Joy Division is an exception to the rule.

We even like old Disney stuff.  Of course, if you know us or read this blog regularly, that's not surprising.

We even like old Disney stuff. Of course, if you know us or read this blog regularly, that’s not surprising.

What artists do I look for?  Well, the Cure, the Replacements, and David Bowie are the first three I look for in both the new and used bins.  However, if I find a good used copy of Led Zeppelin IV I will buy it.

Found this EP at the Space City Con in Galveston at the Galveston Bookstore Table.

Found this EP at the Space City Con in Galveston at the Galveston Bookstore Table. Went over and found a couple of nice albums including The Glove’s Blue Sunshine which was a side project of The Cure’s Robert Smith.

In addition, because this can be quite addictive, I am on a tight budget.  I am usually the kind of person that has buyer’s remorse over everything.  Yet, with vinyl, it is slightly different. Almost every place that sells records is a small business.  I have no problem helping them out.

Goodwill and garage sales are great places to buy vinyl.

Goodwill and garage sales are great places to buy vinyl. They are usually cheaper than true market value.

So, if you follow this blog and we talk about an upcoming trip, let us know if you know of any good record stores in the area.  If you are out an about in the New Orleans area and you see a stack of old records that look interesting, leave us a comment!