Albums that Inspire
I’ve heard so many of my friends say, “I remember where I was when I first heard…” Referring to an album or song that “changed their life.” It’s hard to appreciate the experience today of going out and actually buying an album because digital music has taken over the whole landscape.
I’m old enough to remember a time when going out to an actual store that only sold music (and shitty band ‘merch’) was a real thing. You actually had to thumb through hundreds of albums, on a rack, to find the one you were looking for (for those young enough, we used to have to do it for books too – frightening). You had to physically touch an album to own and listen to it. Different times. Now it’s almost like music is just an idea vs. a real experience.
The point of this is, everyone remembers that one album or song that changed life for him or her, brought their existence in full circle, or inspired greatness within. My dad still talks about the first time he heard, “Taking Care of Business” by Bachman Turner Overdrive, which basically locked a generation of music into his brain… Which I’m sure was also due to the fact that he was staring through his bong, out the window and into the sun at the time – College, huh?
I grew up with a lot of music aficionados who could describe to me what it was like the first time they ever listened to “Abbey Road,” “Thriller” or “Wonderwall.” For me it was never music.
I grew up listening to comedy albums.
I’m overly sure the first album I ever owned was Jeff Foxworthy’s, “You Might be a Redneck if…” It really did set the course for me while my pre-teen friends were busy obsessing over Britney Spears, N’Sync, or the Spice Girls. In an actual music store, you find out quick that comedy really only has one or two dedicated shelves out of hundreds. So if they didn’t have what you were looking for, bummer bro.
Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay, Sam Kinison, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin and George Carlin were whom I grew up listening to. They all immediately took a backseat as soon as I turned on HBO one fateful day in middle school.
“I look like a little lesbian,” were the first words I ever heard Patton Oswalt say on stage. I was hooked, but this was before DVR or digital cable packages, so I got to spend the next 29 minutes listening to a comedian who would help shape my career path dramatically. But then it was over, no more Patton Oswalt. One day I would be lucky enough to run into him on television again, but who the f#%$ knew when that would happen?
This was pre-Napster. A time that could only be described as the infancy of the Internet. The next year and half was spent scouring whatever music stores and websites I could find that even had inkling as to who Patton Oswalt was (at the time… pretty much no one, yet).
Fast-forward to 2004.
I had just made out with a girl in my best friend’s laundry room and was lucky enough to receive a two-week vacation from school for my efforts- also known as mononucleosis. It seemed like the stars were aligned in just the right way for me to stumble upon Patton Oswalt’s live debut album, “222” –not to be confused with “Feeling Kinda Patton” which was cut from “222.” I can still remember using my first debit card to pay 25.99 plus s/h – I had to have this album (if you don’t own it yet, its $5 on Itunes now… Buy it). The waiting game sucked. I was living that classic “check the mail every day and be supremely disappointed when it didn’t show up,” episode of life.
I’m glad I didn’t get it on cassette, because I would have destroyed a tape listening to it as much as I did. I remember putting my Xbox on mute and putting “222” into my CD player. I couldn’t tell you what games I was playing while I was home for those two weeks (further research would show Red Dead Revolver and the original Halo) because I was lost in the two and half hours of Oswalt, recorded at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, GA. I had no idea comedians could have a cult following the way he had. The last 40 minutes was Oswalt taking requests from die-hard fans. “You could be a rock star, just for making people laugh?,” I would ask myself. “And people know your material well enough to make requests?”
The seed had already been planted, but this was the ‘un-mother nature’ like circumstance that produces a minivan-sized pumpkin. Better strap it down before it rolls off the scale and crushes some poor farmhand’s dream and leg.
I can remember the first time I took a request for one of my jokes at a show from the crowd, and I can’t compare the moment to anything else that’s happened in my life. I got to live a moment in time, that one of my idols had lived on an album I grew up listening to.
In the spirit of this great moment in my life, I’ll end this by sharing one of my favorite quotes:
“If the victories we create in our heads were let loose on reality, the world we know would drown in blazing happiness.” – Patton Oswalt, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland