In preparing for an interview I conducted this week (details to come), I found myself immersed in the late seventies and deeply satisfied. It made me think about discrete eras in music, and which would be my favorite. Not best. Not most important. Just favorite. As in, if I were permitted only to listen to music released in a particular five-year window, what five years would I choose? And then because this is my own meaningless exercise – and because I was stuck – I expanded it to six years.
And what span did I pick?
1977 through 1982.
Lots of folks will think that I’m exactly ten years too late, and it’s hard to argue with a stretch bookended by Sgt. Pepper’s and Exile on Main Street. I love those records. But no other period hits me where I live quite like punk’s onslaught and afterglow. What does that period get you? Elvis Costello’s first six (six!) albums for starters, each a classic or nearly so. Talking Heads’ first four albums. The Clash’s entire catalog! Darkness on the Edge of Town, The River and Nebraska. Some Girls and Tattoo You. “Teenage Kicks,” “Another Girl, Another Planet” and “Starry Eyes.” Jesus of Cool and Seconds of Pleasure. The Specials, the Feelies, the English Beat. Leave Home, Road to Ruin and Rocket to Russia. Exodus, Kaya and Uprising. Dirty Mind and Marquee Moon. Never Mind the Bollocks and Rumours. XTC and Squeeze. Squeezing Out Sparks and Rust Never Sleeps. In Color and Back in Black. Trans-Europe Express and Juju Music. The Cars, Excitable Boy, Parallel Lines. Pere Ubu’s original avant garage records and Roxy Music’s elegant rebirth. One Nation Under a Groove and Off the Wall. Damn the Torpedoes and Tusk. The first two albums by the Pretenders, X and the dB’s. Making Movies and Double Fantasy. Shoot Out the Lights. Marshall Crenshaw’s transcendent debut.
That barely scratches the surface, and it forms the backbone of my musical being. I get a little thrill just looking at the words on the page, and some regret that I don’t listen enough. If you put those six years on a loop, would the shine ever wear off? I really don’t think so.
What are your six years? Leave a comment.