Solitude, Lake Simcoe

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The top 10 albums that influenced me as a teenager

This is a list of 10 albums that made a lasting impression on me as a teenager — but only one per band/artist.

This is supposed to be a “don’t take too long and don’t think” thing but I’m not good at that. This list has been pared down from about 20 off the top of my head.

1. Tool – Ænima1000full-aenima-cover
2. Onyx – All We Got Iz Us
3. Propagandhi – Less Talk, More Rock
4. Hayden – Everything I Long For
5. Makaveli aka 2Pac – The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory
6. Tom Waits – Rain Dogs
7. Leonard Cohen – The Future
8. Marilyn’s Vitamins – Politics on the Dance Floor
9. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
10. Rage Against the Machine – Self-Titled

On Leonard Cohen’s death

[Originally published on facebook and Twitter November 10, 2016. Lightly edited here.]

More than any other artist, I have passionately defended — and critiqued — Leonard Cohen’s work in conversations both in real life and online.

I’ve gone on long tangents at parties about how I hate his poem Go By Brooks. I’ve quietly suggested Ten New Songs and Dear Heather are his best albums.

I’ve listened to single tracks for hours on repeat. I’ve found new peaks and valleys in songs I convinced myself I’d figured out.

I declared, in 2008, after decades of listening to his music, that “I’m finally getting his work.”

I understood nothing.

Nothing.leonard-cohen

We may never again hear another person vocalize the human condition in such a way.

His grasp of pain.

How he revelled in joy.

I can’t describe the impact of Leonard Cohen’s work on my life.

For that, I’d need to be a poet.

And now, there is one fewer poet.

The first political song I ever heard

Eighties music gets a bad rap. Often. Especially 80s pop music.

It’s funny what resonates with someone. When Phil Collins’ Another Day in Paradise was released in 1989, I was nine years old.

It was the first time I had ever heard a song (I heard it on the radio randomly) that discussed the plight of the socially marginalized.

I couldn’t sleep that night. The song haunted me. Especially this:

She calls out to the man on the street
‘Sir, can you help me?
It’s cold and I’ve nowhere to sleep,
Is there somewhere you can tell me?’
He walks on, doesn’t look back
He pretends he can’t hear her
Starts to whistle as he crosses the street
Seems embarrassed to be there

Oh think twice, it’s another day for you and me in paradise
Oh think twice, ’cause it’s just another day for you,
You and me in paradise, think about it