Since I talked about all the musicals I have on CD just a couple days ago, I thought I'd talk about some of my favorite non-musical CDs today. I don't tend to play music in the house. I turn the TV on for noise. These days, most of my music listening happens in the car, and I rotate CDs out consistently. I'm kind of old-fashioned in that I just don't download songs. I don't listen to music on portable devices, so it seems like a waste. Plus, some of my favorite songs of all time were never released as singles. If I hadn't purchased the whole album, I never would've discovered them.
So while I have some current favorites - A Great Big World, John Newman, Lorde - they haven't been around nearly long enough to entrench themselves as all-time favorites. So when I pick my top three, they're all older.
1. Nothing Like the Sun by Sting: I LOVE Sting. I have loved Sting since I was in junior high and I was a huge Police fan. "Dream of the Blue Turtles" was the second album I bought with my own money when I was in high school. It's not on this list because his second album was just so much better. The pop songs are still there - "Englishman in New York" is impossible not to bop along to - but then there's sheer beauty like his cover of "Little Wing" and the moody "Sister Moon." I've seen him live more than any other artist, and he never fails to move me.
2. Bigger, Better, Faster, More! by 4 Non Blondes: I'm going to bet a lot of people have never heard of 4 Non Blondes unless they're a fan of Linda Perry. They were a girl rock band in the early 90s and only did a single album before Perry left the group. But I have probably listened to that album more than any other non-musical album I own. There's a bluesy, rock sound to most of their songs that just crawls under your skin. Add in Perry's raw voice, and oh god, it's a drug. The songs are poetry with an edge. "What's Up" was the only song to hit the charts, and it's great, don't get me wrong, but "Dear Mr. President" is some powerful stuff, and "Spaceman" is amazing. I followed Perry's career closely after that, and for those who don't think they know her, she's achieved most of her fame songwriting. She did Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" for instance. And in recent years, she married Sara Gilbert. And yet, I will always remember her for this gorgeous album.
3. The Cost by The Frames: I discovered The Frames after the movie Once, which made me fall in love with Glen Hansard. I own a ton of his music because of that movie, whether it's his band from before the movie or The Swell Season, which was his duo with Marketa Irglova. I got to see him and Marketa perform at a club in Salt Lake City a few years ago, and it was absolutely amazing. But this Frames album is probably my favorite of his outside of the Once soundtrack. I'm cheating slightly because it has "Falling Slowly" on it, which is probably in my top 10 songs of all time, but it has so much more. This one is more stripped down than a lot of their other work, which might be one reason why I love it so much. Glen and his guitar seem to be enough for me most of the time. His tone is both haunting and uplifting, displaying such vulnerability at times that it makes me ache. This whole album is like a quiet storm that just sneaks up on you. Spellbinding.
I think if I have a common theme on my music tastes...it's storytelling. I fall in love with songs that tell stories. In hindsight, that's not very surprising, now is it?