Category Archives: How Am I Doing This?

“Only the beginning. Only just a start.” – Chicago


Well, that’s it! It’s over! I’m finally finished! All set!

I finished listening to all of my CDs recently, and it is a relief to be done. The final total was 344 CDs. I listened nearly every (work) day, commuting in my car. It took me the better part of 15 months to finish. And now it is over.

At least it feels like it should be over. I mean, 15 fucking months is a long time to spend on one project, especially one that doesn’t pay money. (Or get you laid). And writing a blog every 4 weeks about records you like, and what a dork you were/are, will most certainly get you neither … Unless I’m missing something …
nerd jock

Anyway, although it feels like the project is complete, it would be folly to pronounce it so, as there is much, much work to do. If I were to say I’m finished now, well, both my readers would think me a laughingstock!

bush accomplished

So … Now the hard part starts. I have to decide which of the 344 discs make up my top 100.

This is going to be harder than I originally thought. I figured listening to all my CDs would help me better place them in a list. However, what really happened is that it muddied the waters. There are many CDs that I had barely ever listened to that, upon listening closely in my car, I realized I really liked! And – conversely – there were several that I had always thought were awesome that, upon listening closely in my car, I realized were … eh.

That seems like a simple problem – the ones that aren’t good drop down on the list, and the ones that are good move up on the list, right??

wile e 1

But the name of this site is “100 FAVE albums,” not “100 BEST albums.” This difference may seem to be just semantics, but what if – after objective listening – you realize that some of your favorite albums aren’t necessarily some of the best? What if you realize that an album you always liked a lot, like, say, just for example, INXS’s The Swing,
the swing

upon listening, sounds a little thin, and the keyboards a bit overdone, and the weak songs weaker than you remember, and the good songs not as good as you remember, and that as you listen to, say, for example, 343 other CDs, you realize that if you were to sort your records from BEST to WORST, probably this record would be solidly in the middle, placing it somewhere in the 130 to 180 range – certainly not a horrible rank, but definitely not as high as, say, again, for example, Steve Earle’s Jerusalem,


a CD that you bought when it came out, in 2002, because you heard it was great, but then never really got around to listening to much at all, until you decided to listen to all your CDs to rank them, at which point you realized, “Holy Shit! This is an awesome record! Why didn’t I listen to this before!?!?” and so – in that mythical array of BEST-TO-WORST albums – it gets placed near the top, around 50 – BUT then … when you decide to think about FAVORITE albums, albums that come to mind when thinking about your life and the music you’ve listened to, and the good feelings the music arouses, and you think about The Swing in that context,

you start to associate some fun, exciting times, some great experiences while, perhaps, drunk (not drunk, teeny-boppers!) at college, with fun friends – but try as you might, the only experience you associate with Jerusalem is driving to and from work,

which isn’t fun and isn’t exciting, and during which time you are rarely drunk, and plus you still haven’t had time to build up some interest in it by listening to it a bunch more times yet because you’ve been spending the last 15 friggin months listening to EVERY OTHER CD you own, so it’s hard for it to really become a favorite, and so on the FAVORITEST-to-LEAST-FAVORITEST array, The Swing lands at, say, 90 to 100, while Jerusalem is … well, better than Blood on the Tracks, anyway …

What then??
wile e 2

I’ll bet you never looked at it that way, did you?

stop dude

Well, I am looking at it that way, and I’ll continue looking at it that way, until my list is put together.

In the new year I will return with more regular updates, and a countdown from CDs 100 to 1, plus a look at some records that didn’t make the list, and some more stories of events in my life that I ridiculously associate with music I’ve heard. Unless the process of making a list drives me crazy …

insane daffy


“Who Are You? Who? Who? Who? Who?” – The Who


I haven’t updated my blog in several weeks. I know both of you out there are disappointed about this, but I have been extremely busy the past few weeks. This GIF presents a fairly accurate view of the activities in my life whenever I’m not sleeping or working.

Endless baseball. Not that I’m complaining – the games are good, and my kid is happy (well, one kid is happy … the other one can be happy, unless forced to attend said endless games …) so it hasn’t been a chore. But it has kept me away from some of the other things I like doing. And some of the housework has lagged a bit …

messy house

But one aspect of my life that has remained steady is that I have continued listening to my CD collection in my ongoing effort to identify my 100 favorite albums. I have listened to 245 as of this writing, and I think I have about 75 remaining, but it is hard to tell because I find that I am continually ADDING CDs to those under consideration! This is extending the process tremendously. I am experiencing the equivalent of “cost overruns,” a dreaded consequence of people trying to do just a little bit more to make things perfect.

You see, I started out with a list of about 150 CDs from my collection of 400 (ish) that I figured would all be vying for a place in the top 100. But as I flipped through my CD collection, I came across some that I hadn’t originally listed, but that I thought might have a place, so I added them into the mix. Then I realized I had some albums as MP3-only, and thought some of these had Hot Hundred potential, so I burned them and added them to the mix. Also, I realized there were albums NO LONGER IN my collection that I had loved when I owned them on cassette or vinyl, and these were added in as well. Plus, as I listened to CDs by particular artists, I realized that I had other albums by them – albums NOT on the original list – and thought it would be wise to give some of these a listen-to as well.


So my list grew. As a result, I have now been listening to my CD collection since mid-September, 2012, and I’m still only about 2/3 of the way through. (Please don’t check my math. To quote Barbie, “Math … is tough.”)

I’m glad I’ve been adding CDs to my list, for completeness’ sake, but I don’t know if it’s been worthwhile. I think my top CDs will mostly be part of the original 150. This is because they are familiar to me. I’m not trying to make an objective list of Great Albums, I’m trying to list my favorites, so familiarity is a factor in the process. It might seem unfair that the tremendous, new CD by AwesomeNewArtist won’t be ranked as highly as its musical merits would imply, but that’s just how life is: it’s all who you know.

I lived in San Francisco for about 8 years in the 90s, and in January, 1994, I made good on a Resolution by finally trying to perform stand-up comedy. For as long as I remember, doing stand-up had been a dream of mine. I had honed my act in various classrooms since kindergarten. Here’s one of my first publicity photos:

publicity photo

In third grade I entered a school talent show and performed a stand up routine about dog food, featuring a battery-powered yapping dog, “The Frisky Dachshund.”

frisky dachsund

(I named him “Pup,” and he was a state-of-the-art remote control toy in 1975).

frisky dachsund 2

I came in second place to a girl who tap danced.

[Not that I’m bitter, and I must say that the girl, Christy W., danced very well, but I KNOW I had the crowd on my side, particularly when my dog unexpectedly fell over, and I ad-libbed a bit about the dog food killing it. But who cares, I guess. That was almost 40 years ago, and I was just a kid …]


[But still, judges … Ms. Schworer, Mrs. Horst, Mrs. Ellsworth … what were you SEEING up there???!! Let’s get serious!]

Over the years I used any classroom speaking assignment to perform a comedy routine, and I had several successes. I read a poem from Mad Magazine in 8th grade English. I juggled tennis balls, soccer balls and ping-pong balls (even spitting them out of my mouth!!) in a demonstration speech in 11th grade. My masterpiece was when I impersonated my Geometry teacher, “Pinhead” Firestone, in a 10th grade extemporaneous speaking assignment. That performance KILLED!

The thought of doing it in front of strangers terrified me, but by 1994 in San Francisco, I decided to put the fears aside and just DO IT. My first time was at an advertised “Open Mic Night” at a comedy club called The Punchline. I had no idea how the “comedy scene” worked, or – more importantly – how an Open Mic Night worked.

open mic

How an Open Mic Night worked at a big comedy club (like The Punchline) was this: just like any other show at a Comedy Club, you respectfully watched professional comedians – even if the night was billed as an “Open Mic Night.” See, the big clubs advertised “Open Mic Night,” but it wasn’t as if the emcee asked for volunteers and selected folks out of the audience to come onstage and tell jokes. It was way more organized than that, and 99% of the performers were professional/near-professional comedians. Very few of the comics at comedy clubs’ Open Mic Nights would be first-timers. It happened occasionally, but it wasn’t typical.

You, the novice comedian, got your start at whatever failing cafes, bars, bookstores and other sad, lonely, empty venues hosted Open Mics. Someone hooked a cheap microphone to an old guitar amplifier, and placed it to the side of the room to create an unusual “stage.” I say unusual because most stages are placed in a room so as to engage as many people as possible. However, most Open Mics placed the stage so as to disturb as few patrons as possible. Here is a typical “view from the stage” at one of these comedy shows:

empty cafe

Usually these shows were initiated in a last-ditch, desperate attempt by the venue-owner to stay afloat before the business finally went under, the expectation being that business would increase because a bunch of alcoholic comedians would bring people in to watch the show. This theory had two flaws (at least): 1) while many (most?) comics are alcoholics, many (most?) are too poor/cheap to buy more than one drink at a bar; and 2) back then, even in those early, early days of email, very few Subject lines generated a quicker “Delete” from a recipient than those of the “Come to my Open Mic!!!” variety. Most of these sad Open Mics were organized by truly heroic (and I DO NOT say that in jest) men and women who realized that live comedy needs places for new performers to start, and who also recognized a need in their own career to learn how to host and emcee a show, which is required to get offers for actual paying gigs.

(Believe me, I don’t mean to shit on Open Mic shows at all – these shows are where the meiosis, embryogenesis and morphogenesis of live comedy occur. In comedy, these processes are just like they are in life: magical, inscrutable and disturbing all at the same time, giving rise to both perfect living machines,


miscarriages, and everything in between.)

So, anyway, you, the newbie, go to the sad Open Mics, and after your soul had been thoroughly and persistently trampled flat by the regular indifference of strangers and other comics in the “audience;” and after the notion of getting booked on Letterman in another month or two (or even Year Or Two!) had been excised like the metastasizing, malignant tumor of self-defeating mythology that it truly is; and after your self-esteem had calloused-over to such a thickness that you believe that Carrie was a total wimp for getting so freaked out by a little pig’s blood …

… and after you’ve been hanging around the Big Club for a few weeks/months (not just the Open Mic Night, but most every night), and after the club comics there begin to recognize you as more than just a dreaded “hobbyist,” … maybe – JUST MAYBE – then you’ll get asked to perform 5 minutes at one of the Big Clubs’ Open Mic Nights.

(According to this great article, not much has changed on The Path To Comedy in 19 years.)

But in January, 1994, I had no idea how this all worked. So I strolled into The Punchline on a Monday Night (a typical night for “Open Mic”), was directed to the guy in charge (a nice fellow with a mustache, named Hutch [the fellow’s name, not the mustache’s name, smart-ass]) and told him I wanted to go onstage and tell jokes.

He didn’t have much to say to me. I bought a drink or two and kept asking him when I could go up and tell my jokes. He kept telling me he didn’t think he’d have time for me. I kept telling him I was ready. Finally, near the end of the night, he said, “Look, if you really want to get up there, we have one more bit you could be part of. It’s the Siskel & Ebert part of the show.” He explained to me that this was a somewhat regular feature of The Punchline’s Open Mic in which two professional comics would sit on stage with microphones and provide commentary on and criticism of another comedian’s set.

I think he expected I’d be intimidated by the thought of being heckled by professional comics, but I wasn’t. Not because I was so confident or ballsy, but because a) I was rather drunk by this point and b) I had NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING! I was too ignorant to understand!

I took him up on the opportunity, and soon enough the host (and “Siskel”), Chris Hobbs, was introducing me to the crowd, while “Ebert,” (a woman whose name I don’t remember) applauded enthusiastically.

Now, it would be a great story if I told you I either bombed horribly and learned my lesson about how difficult stand-up is, or that I triumphed grandly and recognized that I had “what it takes” to succeed in comedy. But neither of those happened.

I went on stage and basically made fun of Siskel and Ebert before they could make fun of me. I started to tell the jokes I had prepared (some really awful religious puns and a long story I made up about my childhood imaginary friend pretending he didn’t recognize me at my tenth high school reunion) but then I segued into tearing apart the hosts’ looks, jokes, clothes, whatever. I don’t remember the details, but I remember the audience laughed, and the hosts laughed, and they made fun of everything about me, as well, and everyone had a good time.

I left the stage thinking that I had “killed,” but what really had happened was that the audience was somewhat charmed by a likeably drunken “civilian” on stage with professional comics, and grateful for the break in the rather monotonous 2 hour run of comics at 5 – 10 minutes a pop.

A couple new comics congratulated me for busting on Siskel and Ebert, but no comics approached me or spoke with me. After the show I spoke with Chris Hobbs, and he was really nice and gave me tips on where Open Mic shows were, and who to speak to, and he told me about The Road, but he didn’t say “You were hilarious!” or “Man, you are FUNNY!” or anything that made me think I was as special as I thought I had demonstrated. I was a little perplexed. I expected adulation from all the comedians.

“Oh well,” I thought, “they must be jealous. But I’ll show up next week and kill once again, and THEN they’ll see how spectacular I am!”

So, I showed up next week. Hutch didn’t put me up. I showed up the following week. Hutch didn’t put me up. Again, the next week. And the next. Week after week, he just ignored me. I didn’t go out and perform at any of the sad cafes or bars; I thought I had shown everyone that I was above those types of places. I didn’t really talk to a lot of the comedians; I figured they might hold me back, or negatively influence my comedy. I just kept returning to The Punchline, badgering Hutch, and waiting for him to realize he was impeding genius. And he never put me up again. After a couple months I stopped going, figuring “Harumph! Comedy is all just who you know!”


And you know what?

I was right! Comedy IS who you know! Just like EVERYTHING ELSE IN LIFE!!! There seems to be an idea held among people (my 1994 self included) that “fairness” will only occur when everything is evaluated objectively. But objective evaluation simply doesn’t happen very much at all. It can’t! Maybe it does in science (it’s happened in a few of the labs I’ve worked in … a few …) but outside of that, everything is subjective.

Plus, Hutch wasn’t in a position to evaluate my comedy “objectively,” he was in a position to put comedians on stage who had a chance of making people laugh. I hadn’t shown any indication that I could be one of those comedians. He had seen me drunkenly banter with a couple people on stage. That’s it. None of the other comedians who went to The Punchline had seen me tell jokes anywhere else. Nobody had talked to me about my comedy background or goals. Nobody was familiar with me. I was UNKNOWN!

(But not The Unknown Comic.)

After a few years of doing some theater and improv, I decided to give stand-up another try. By this time my experience in performing had led me to realize that yes, it IS who you know, so I decided to get out there and GET KNOWN BY some people! I found myself loving stand-up a whole lot better the second time around.


And this is how I feel about making a list of “best” records. The ones I know are the ones I’m going to rate highest. There are a lot of newer bands who I really like, such as The Hold Steady, Deer Tick, and Surfer Blood, but I don’t know if many/any of their CDs will make my list. It might seem ridiculous that Give the People What They Want gets placed higher than Astro Coast – critics may say the latter is the far superior album – but I’ve heard the former a million times, and the songs are burned (lovingly) into my brain! Give me twenty years of listening to Separation Sunday, and it might end up higher than Let Me Come Over on my list.

But my list is like life … it’s all who you know!

(By the way, when I went back to stand-up, Hutch eventually put me up on stage a few times!)


“I was looking at the black and white world, it seemed so exciting …” – Elvis Costello


A loyal reader, J., writes, “ERM, your blog is the best thing I’ve read in my entire life! I think you are a genius! Are you going to include all types of albums in your list, including hip-hop, jazz, etc, or will it just be rock?”

I’m paraphrasing some, but that’s basically what he said.

It’s a good question, and it deserves an answer. And that answer – as is usually the case with someone who decides to write a blog in their spare time – won’t be a short one. Some hip-hop will definitely be included as candidates for the top 100, but I should say I don’t own much hip-hop. And the hip-hop I do own is frighteningly predictable.

(And apparently this predictability goes both ways.)

The reason I don’t own much hip-hop isn’t because I have a problem with hip-hop, or dislike it as an art. It’s just that I’ve never listened to it very much. Most of the hip-hop I love tends to be individual songs that are catchy, goofy, and bordering on parody. (Though usually not as funny as The Master.) I don’t own many hip-hop albums. As a music fan, what really grabs my ear is a strong melody and harmonies, and I love the sound of guitars and a drum kit. So while I do enjoy a hip-hop song or two, I find that an entire album’s worth starts to sound too repetitive to me. As a result, I haven’t purchased many hip-hop albums.

As I noted in an earlier post, an individual’s background plays a large part in the types of music a person loves, and I never really developed a framework for serious hip-hop appreciation. I’m sure much of that has to do with the extremely white, some-might-say bigoted, area where I grew up. Among my peers growing up, music was definitely thought of in terms of black and white, and I’d be lying if I said that in my youth I never heard Motown, R&B and soul music referred to as “[n-word] music.”

My own house had music playing in it almost constantly, for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, my parents would listen to Burt Bacharach, Big Band music and 8-track cassettes of Broadway shows.annie 8 track (Along with a healthy dose of Spike Jones and his City Slickers.) I listened because it was in the air. When I wanted to listen to music myself, I listened to whatever was playing on WLBR, one of two local AM stations at the time. (The other being WAHT, which presaged the 90s talk radio boom by 20 years by featuring a talk show host, Fred Williams, who everyone hated, but listened to anyway.) The station broadcast games of the Flyers, Sixers, and (my favorite of all) the Phillies, and played typical 70s AM fare when there weren’t any games. At the time, I didn’t make much distinction between white artists or black artists. Stevie Wonder and Elton John were equal in my book – even though I preferred Sir Duke

to Island Girl,

I also liked Crocodile Rock better than My Cherie Amour.

During my middle school years, disco was king. And since I had two older sisters who were huge fans of the genre, and who went to Stan’s Disco (at the empty Robert Hall store on Route 422) every weekend, I became a fan as well. Again, I didn’t really think much about the artists’ ethnicity. After all, my favorite disco band at the time had members of every race, who worked in most every imaginable job (assuming Cowboy and Indian were actual occupations in 1979. Not to mention Leather Guy … I guess I figured he worked in some kind of a motorcycle shop.) [Side note: I remember in 8th grade that Mike S. claimed that he heard The Village People were gay. I was incredulous, and believed that the group’s obvious manliness – as most evidenced by the very masculine Construction Worker – was all the confirmation I needed that the group members were strictly hetero. I guess I was a little naive back then …]

By my high school years, I started listening to ROCK on the radio. I didn’t know it at the time, but the format was called “AOR.” It’s the stuff that today is called “Classic Rock,” or – as incomprehensible as it sounds to someone so youthful and vibrant as myself – “Oldies.” The music was by artists who were almost exclusively white – in fact, they were so white that to say the artists were “almost exclusively” white is to astonishingly minimize the actual exclusivity of the artists’ collective whiteness. If the artists on AOR were ingredients on the side of a box of Stove Top Stuffing (let’s say), non-white artists would probably make up about 1/100th of the entirety of the Propyl gallate in the packet. (With this analogy I certainly don’t wish to imply that non-white artists on AOR radio were as (apparently) harmful to kids as Propyl gallate. The analogy holds only in terms of numbers of artists.)

Of course Jimi Hendrix was featured prominently, and Santana got their fair share of airplay, but the other artists-of-color that I can name nowadays are ones that I didn’t even realize weren’t white at the time, like one-hit wonder band Redbone

(who I didn’t know were Native American until I drove across the country and stopped in Gallup, NM, and talked to some Indian folks at a bar), and Irish-band-I-thought-were-Southern-rockers Thin Lizzy, led by the African-Irishman Phil Lynott.

And while we’re on the topic of identity politics in music, it’s probably as good a time as any to state that the non-male contingent on AOR was limited to Heart, and Heart alone, at least until Pat Benatar came around.

I watched a ton of early 80s MTV (a topic that I’ll have to cover in another post some day) and so I got exposure to Michael Jackson, Prince, Lionel Richie and some other black 80s pop acts, and I thought they had some good songs. But by the time rap really hit it big and started to go mainstream – maybe 1984 – 1986 – I just didn’t have an interest in it. It didn’t have melody, it didn’t have guitars and drums (unless they were sampled), and so I didn’t spend much time listening to it. In fact, in the mid-80s I was so enthusiastic about such a very small sliver of musical genres (basically only acts featuring guitar solos and high-pitched male singers, preferably playing songs as complex as possible) that I actively dismissed and agitated against other forms of music, including rap.

So, J., to answer your question with regard to hip-hop – if it’s in my collection, and I think it could be Hot Hundred-Worthy, I’ll give it a listen.

With regard to jazz … I do like jazz, and I own several jazz CDs – mostly Miles Davis, Charlie Mingus, and another certain artist who my wife and I like enough to have given our son his unusual name. But I’m not going to include them in my Top Hundred list. I don’t experience jazz music the same way I do rock and pop. For some reason my little brain has trouble putting them in the same basket. So I’m not going to try to do it.



“Now, teacher, don’t you fill me up with your rules …” – Brownsville Station


I had to put some rules in place for what types of albums could be included in my list, otherwise the list would be chaos. The next thing you know I’d be considering EVERYTHING for inclusion into favorite albums: Greatest Hits Records, Compilations, cassettes I made as a kid pretending to be a DJ and playing hits from Ronco’s Get It On LP, Mix Tapes …

Regarding mix tapes … I am part of the segment of my generation that put a lot of time and energy into trying to put together the awesomest mix tape possible for every situation. I can completely empathize with Jack Black’s Barry in the following scene:

And as embarrassing as it would be to dance in front of co-workers and simulate sex with an imaginary woman, as Barry does, it is even more embarrassing to recall the several second dates I had in which I brought along a mix tape as a gift, which often included the songs “Girlfriend,” by Matthew Sweet (!) …

and “Little T&A” by the Stones (!!!).

“Wow,” these women must have thought, “he’s desperate AND a creepy sexist! What a catch!”

I understand now why I didn’t have many third dates …

But I learned eventually, and didn’t make a tape for my wife until we’d been dating several months. Which isn’t to say it didn’t include an embarrassing song …

or two*.

Apparently, even a feminist like my wife didn’t want to think about Yoko in the context of me, despite evidence that Yoko’s evil-ness was overblown.

(Which isn’t to say I’m a big fan of Yoko – but the worst thing about her isn’t her relationship with John – I long ago grew comfortable with the plain fact that they were simply in love – it’s her horrendous art and music.)

So anyway, the rules:

1) Albums MUST BE IN MY COLLECTION! Either a digital album I bought or ripped from a friend, or a CD in my cases of CDs.

What this means, obviously, is that my Top 100 is going to probably contain several albums by a few groups, necessarily excluding some other great artists. Specifically, I expect there to be lots of Beatles, Elvis Costello, R.E.M., Replacements … I know already there won’t be ANY Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Eagles, Ramones … Nothing against those artists, I just was never moved to buy/borrow a CD of theirs (other than Greatest Hits.)

At some point, I’ll probably make a list of all these albums I own, but I can’t do it right now.

2) Albums CAN’T BE GREATEST HITS OR COMPILATIONS. For the same reason that a mix tape wouldn’t be included – they’re a compilation of great songs (typically) so of course they’d be a favorite album!!

On the topic of compilations, my sisters and I owned a variety of Compilation Records in the 70s. They were very popular, and could be ordered directly from the TV. “Just 5.99! 8-track tape or cassette, 7.99!!!” Our record library included the aforementioned Get It On, Sound Explosion, and Hustle 76, which didn’t have the real artists playing the songs but instead had a sound-alike band. We also had one called Today’s Greatest Hits that included performances of popular songs by a cover band called The Realistics! But even if they weren’t the real artists, we didn’t care – we just wanted to hear all the songs. These albums were must-haves for kids in the 70s. I myself was particularly partial to the humorous compilations, such as Dumb Ditties and Kooky Toones, both of which I owned.

I’m NOT excluding live albums or soundtracks in my list, which are usually sort of greatest hits and compilation albums, respectively. But I don’t have many of either that I think (off the top of my head) would be Hot Hundred material, so it might be a moot point.

3) Reissues are judged on the original content. There’s a lot of both excellent and crappy bonus material on reissues, and using it as a basis for comparing records seems a little unfair to me. So I’ll leave it alone.

* – I didn’t really put this song on her mix tape!


“Make a List, Baby …” -Ambrosia


Recently, several readers (and I use the word “several” because it sounds better than “both”) have asked “So, when are you going to share your list??!!”

“Listen, mom and dad,” I said, “I gave you that computer, and I can take it away, too!”

But the question is significant, since this is supposedly a blog about my favorite albums.

So here is the answer: I am still working on my list. When I am done, I will post it.

How hard can it be to make a list, you ask?

Despite what Wired found, I have found it very hard.

See, I didn’t trust myself to just look through my music collections and pick out the best by memory. That, to me, seemed to be cheating. Or, more precisely, playing favorites. As with most things in life, it’s like when you were in high school … and the gym teacher was also the freshman soccer coach, and every time he wanted to make teams in gym class he’d pick C. to be one of the captains because freshman year C. was a great soccer player, but by now, senior year, C. was short, chubby, not even on the soccer team, typically hung over, and clearly not as good of a flag-football player as yourself, (who abstained from alcohol/friends, and had in fact grown a couple inches and DROPPED a few pounds since freshman year when you quit the soccer team on the first day of summer double sessions because of asthma and a conflict with band camp), but yet the gym teacher had it stuck in his head that, “Boy, that C. is really a tremendous athlete,” and so continued to select C. to be a captain even though if he’d taken time to really assess the state of things as of today, October 9, 1984, he would have realized that you were a much better choice to be team captain.

Nothing like that ever happened to me that I’m aware of, but it seems like a good analogy to relying on ideas I formed long ago to make a good selection today.

I didn’t want to rely on my memory. To me, the only thing that made sense to do was to listen to each album I own (or anyway, the ones I knew had a shot to be top 100) – whether as a physical CD or a downloaded/ripped electronic version – and attempt to select the 100 best.

I estimate I have about 500 to 600 albums. Probably not a lot as compared to some people, but pretty many to listen to one-at-a-time. As a middle-aged man with a family and a job, I don’t have the time that I did when I bought most of this music, (and apparently time isn’t the only thing I don’t have a lot of anymore) so it’s hard for me to find time to sit around the house and listen, uninterrupted.

But I do have a thirty-minute commute to work each day, so that gives me an hour every weekday in the car to listen for a decent chunk of time. This is somewhat of a problem, as it means I don’t get to listen to Howard every day, but I take a break now and then for a few laughs.

I write notes to myself on all the albums I listen to, and I have started a system of ranking … sort of.

But there is plenty of time for all those details later. In the mean time – since you guys wanted a list – here’s what I think were PROBABLY my Top Ten Albums (or cassettes) on October 9, 1984:

10) REM – Reckoning

9) Styx – Equinox

8) Rush – Grace Under Pressure

7) Huey Lewis & The News – Sports

6) Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Greatest Hits

5) Asia – Asia

4) Yes – 90125

3) U2 – War

2) Van Halen – Van Halen

1) Rush – Exit … Stage Left

Some of those albums may still make the top 100, some of them I AM SURE will not. But I’ll get to all that later.

Go Niners! Hello SF!! I miss you!!