My early music education (aka my parents’ vinyl collection)

In the 1980s in Denmark, I discovered my parents’ vinyl collection contained an embarrassment of riches. This eclectic mishmash of albums, many of them bought in the States in the 1960s, became my gateway to music. Later, I would discover music on my own at the public library and via MTV and it’s early European competitor Super Channel. But this was where it (mostly) began…let’s not talk about my fascination as a 6 year old with Kiss and Twisted Sister.

  1. Dr. Hook

    I’m not sure why this album doesn’t appear on more “must-listen” country-rock albums. It’s got a lot going for it, especially the Cover of the Rolling Stone, Carrie Me Carrie, and Last Morning, which is the best song I know about not wanting to make it in a dirty, hard, unfriendly New York City.

  2. John Denver

    This taught me to love Grandma’s Feather Bed (for its pure bluegrass-country fun) and Annie’s Song (for its heart-aching beauty). Along with the Dillards, John Denver planted the seed that would make me appreciate bluegrass many decades later.

  3. Don McLean

    Hard to underestimate what a magnificent album this is, and not just because of the famous title track. I’d often skip straight to “Crossroads” and Winterwood” and “Everybody Loves Me Baby.” And all the rest.

  4. Joan Baez

    Joan Baez’s music never really clicked for me. But this record resonated with me. Her voice is otherworldly. The stripped-down folk is a perfect vehicle. Beautiful music.

  5. Art Garfunkel

    Not actually the album my folks owned, but this one covers most of the best-of vinyl they had. I had a period where I listened to Garfunkel on repeat. Some of it is schmaltzy, but oh man, as an adolescent with a big, yearning heart, this stuff was like syrup. In a good way. Oh, and Heart of New York made me love NY and baseball long before I knew what it was all about!

  6. Benny Andersson, Tim Rice, Björn Ulveaus

  7. Bruce Springsteen

  8. Simon & Garfunkel

  9. Simon & Garfunkel

  10. Simon & Garfunkel

    My favorite S&G album, in large part because of Save the Life of My Child, which had none of the ethereal hippy-dippiness of Scarborough Fair. This was an album with a bit of attitude while also serving up delights like Punky’s Dilemma and America.

  11. Sebastian

  12. Kim Larsen

  13. John Lennon

    My parents loved Imagine for its musicality and its message. I learned to love the rest of the album and often dropped the needle down on Crippled Inside or Gimme Some Truth. There was a darkness and anger on side B that appealed to me.

  14. Bee Gees

    Tragedy packs a punch. What a song. I only remember playing that on repeat. The rest of the album didn’t stick with me, and apart from liking their 80s comeback ESP, it took some years before I dig into the big Bee Gees back catalog to appreciate their talent.

  15. Antônio Carlos Jobim

    My first expose to jazz outside of Disney animated movies. It was like the soundtrack to a movie from my parents youth that I wanted to be in. I still love this album and play it often. Puts me in a real good place real fast.

  16. 10cc

    My brother and I used to play Wall Street Shuffle over and over again. Honestly, the rest didn’t make a big impression, not even their big hit, I’m Not In Love.

  17. Angelo Branduardi

    The title track is what got me into this album. Classic British folk dating back to God knows when. It took me longer to appreciate the rest, which arguably goes much deeper into renaissance folk or whatever strange territory Branduardi traveled to. Whenever and wherever it was, he came back with a ghostly voice to tell us all about it. Check out The Stag. It’s something else.

  18. Elton John

    Funeral for a Friend blew me away. It was a precursor to my later obsession with the Who’s Tommy and Pink Floyd. And then there’s the rest of this brilliant album. One for all ages.

  19. The Beach Boys

    This isn’t the album my parents had. In fact, they had two best-of vinyls, the contents of which are mostly covered here (plus some). My dad was a big Beach Boys fan, and the joy of listening to I Get Around or Little Deuce Coupe now is communing with Dad. The songs that really blew me away were I Can Hear Music, Heroes And Villains, and Good Vibrations. Though Sloop John B still makes me choke up — not even sure why.

  20. The Doors

    The only Doors album in my parents’ collection, so this was my introduction. People Are Strange and Love Me Two Times immediately hooked me, but later, it was When the Music’s Over that captivated me. Years later it still felt superior to The End. Probably biased because I heard it first, but it felt musically more cohesive vs. The End’s histrionics, which haven’t aged well for me.

  21. Melanie

    See my note about Gather Me.

  22. Melanie

    I didn’t “get” Melanie at first, but when the penny dropped, it was like a giant anvil crashing through the ceiling. Gather Me, especially, but also Candles in the Rain — this is singer-songwriter folk rock with such originality, I keep coming back to these songs decades later.

  23. The Beatles

    The collection didn’t contain all the Beatles albums, but the important thing here is that they were the US editions. Capitol Records chopped up the Beatles early records, so the albums contain very different songs. I grew up with Rubber Soul starting with I’ve Just Seen A Face (originally off Help!).

  24. The Mothers Of Invention, Frank Zappa

    My introduction to Zappa. This was bizarre stuff. But also silly and playful — and was that jazz mixed in with rock? This shouldn’t have been fun to listen to, but it was. Or it was interesting. And I couldn’t stop listening.

  25. Bob Dylan

    The only Dylan my parents owned. So this, Bob’s very first, became my intro to Dylan. I still love this record. As a kid, I must have listened to it a hundred times.

This album list was curated by Mathias Black.

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