Music/Popular Culture

What CD have you listened to more than any other?

We all have our favorite artists and songs and albums. Even those of us who listen to a lot of different styles and have thousands of CDs in our collections undoubtedly have a few we keep coming back to more than others. While I have never really had this discussion with anyone, I imagine that there are all kinds of reasons why certain songs and collections draw us back.

The albums I have listened to the most would surprise most people, I suspect. Those who know me would probably think I’ve spun U2’s War or Unforgettable Fire the most, or REM’s Reckoning, or maybe one of the Police’s CDs. Maybe even something by Queen. And they’d be close, because I have in fact played the hell out of those albums. My original copy of A Night at the Opera – back in the days of the vinyl LP – was so worn I was expecting the needle to carve completely through the record at any moment.

But the truth is that these aren’t at the top of my list, although the reason is an odd one.See, I like to go to sleep with music playing and I have a few discs that are perfect for that purpose. Things like:

  • Andreas Vollenweider’s Down to the Moon (also Behind The Gardens – Behind The Wall – Under The Tree)
  • Irish Heartbeat, by Van Morrison and the Chieftains
  • The soundtrack from Blade Runner
  • Enya’ first three CDs
  • Delerium – Semantic Spaces and Karma, mainly, but Stone Tower and Syrophenikan got some play, as did most of their others
  • Anything from The Lost Patrol
  • Ditto Love is Colder Than Death and Lycia, two wonderful dark ambient groups that I discovered back in the 1990s
  • Tubular Bells, by Mike Oldfield

My all-time most-listened to? I’m not sure because I’ve lost count, but I think #3 isRaison d’Etre’s Enthraled by the Wind of Lonelienes, a gorgeous dark ambient masterpiece that plays like a gothic chamber concert in a haunted cathedral. (The Empty Hollow Unfolds, also by Raison d’Etre, also gets a good bit of play these days.) If it weren’t for the fact that my ex-wife needed absolute silence to get to sleep, and also that she didn’t much care for the Dark Ambient genre in general, Enthraled would probably #1, because I would have probably played it at least another thousand times over the last decade or so.

#2 and #1, in a virtual tie: Hergest Ridge, by Mike Oldfield, and a recording from the radio show Music from the Hearts of Space.

This last one isn’t really “a CD,” I know, but back when I was in college a girlfriend turned me on to space music and one morning I made a cassette recording of the show. I recorded the Oldfield album on the other side (I knew someone who owned it, so I guess this was a proto-file sharing crime on my part), and every night I’d flip the tape and hit play, up until it disappeared from my apartment just after a certain music-loving friend had visited. I can’t prove anything, but you know who you are, you tune-poaching weasel.

In the end, though, Hergest Ridge is the winner. I now own the CD and listen to it from time to time, so if we had an accurate count Oldfield would probably leading Hearts of Space by five or ten spins.

That’s me. Now, what CD(s) have you listened to the most in your life, and why?

18 replies »

  1. There are several answers to this: music of the moment, music of the recent, and music over a life.

    For example, music of the moment for me includes Baron Bane, Adele (both thanks to you), and Sarah Siskind. Music of the recent (perhaps a year or two or three out to a decade) includes anything I can find by Derek Trucks, Katie Melua, Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, and Sarah Brightman.

    But I’m older now. I have well more than a half a century of music behind me. What do I return to time after time? Your post mentions a few, such as Vollenweider and Oldfield.

    Yep, I go back to Zep I and II. I listen repeatedly to CSN (and the occasional Y). John Lee Hooker’s Endless Boogie is a constant in my office.

    But over a lifetime? Easy: Dark Side of the Moon, one of the most majestic albums (outside of classical) ever recorded.

    Now, if you ever do a post on classical music “most-listened to,” I’d be real interested in what others set their ears to.

  2. My Top Five
    Blade Runner soundtrack: I have at least three versions on CD. One I have listened to the most is the bootleg Off-World Music version. My favorite movie of all time, no argument, no discussion.
    The Pogues, “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” and “Peace and Love”: My favorite band ever. These albums are both full of diverse melodies, tempos, and topics. Amazing variation, versatility. Some of the most powerful, literate lyrics MacGowan and Co. ever wrote.
    Elton John, “Blue Moves”: His best and most underrated album, and his most “American” in terms of lyrical content. Some great experimentation here, with instrumentals and odd melodies in some songs. Overlooked gem from The Rocket Man.
    Stan Ridgway, “The Big Heat”: His first solo outing after Wall of Voodoo. An amazing tapestry of very noirish songs. Probably what Raymond Chandler’s first CD as a pop star would have sounded like.
    Tony Tani, “This is Mr. Tony Tani”: Japanese mambo music from the ’50s. Tani was a musical-comedy film star, not a huge one. But I picked this CD up in Tokyo 24 years ago out of curiosity, and have loved it ever since.

  3. Dan: Yeah, that BR soundtrack never gets old, does it? And we see eye-to-eye on the movie itself, too. Has any film ever grown so much in stature after being mostly ignored upon release?

  4. Blade Runner- yes! Dark Side of the Moon- most definitely! (along with Wish You Were Here) but the CD I have been listening to over and over and OVER is “Voices of Light”, an oratorio written by Richard Einhorn in the 90’s as an accompiment to the silent film “The Passion of Joan of Arc”. Read the reviews on Amazon and then buy it. If you like classical at all, you will be blown away- I promise!!!

  5. You got that right, Sam, Blade Runner never gets old. And I have kind of a sick obsession with trance and house remixes of the End Titles, which is a very popular track in the rave party scene, apparently. I have six CDs worth of BR End Titles dance remixes, and in the BR fan community that ain’t even close to the record.

  6. My most listened to ever are:

    1. Dylan, Blood on the Tracks. I keep coming back, Dylan’s at his lyrical and muscical best.

    2. Springsteen, Born in the USA. Pure working class heat.

    3. CCR has a greatest hits collection that is absolutely irresistable

  7. Oh- another suggestion for the ambient fans: anything by Popul Vuh (great 70’s kraut rock). They did the soundtracks for all the Werner Herzog-Klaus Kinski films which are fantastic!

  8. Sam, I have no idea since I don’t use Spotify. But you could do a search using the terms “Cosmic Baby” or “Taurus vs. Laurent” as a way to get started.

  9. Clutch: Live in Flint

    Hands down. I like my recordings live if possible and this one is an all time great, capturing the band at its pinnacle (imo). Hard as nails and still held up by funky blues. Starts like being run down by 10,000 buffaloes and doesn’t let up until the show ends. It’s too bad that the planned DVD of the whole show has never come out, but there are a couple of snips released:

    Getting beyond that, i’d have to think it through. There’s a pretty long list of CD’s i regularly return to, and some like Commander Cody’s “We’ve Got a Live One Here” i’ve been listening to since i was a little kid.

    J. Geils Band, “Full House” is another childhood favorite that i still play regularly. And James Brown, “Dallas, 1968” would be worn out of it was vinyl just for 12+ minutes of Cold Sweat.

  10. U2 “The Joshua Tree” which I listened to daily for a couple years and weekly for a couple after that.

    The Call “Reconciled” and “Let the Day Begin.”
    Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon.”
    Jefferson Airplane “Surrealistic Pillow.”
    Led Zeppelin “II.”
    The Doors “The Doors.”

  11. The albums I always go back to:

    “Wish You Were Here” – Pink Floyd
    “Led Zeppelin III” – Led Zeppelin
    “No Quarter Unledded” – Page and Plant
    “Disintegration” – The Cure
    “Faith” – The Cure

    Currently on high rotation is The Human League’s “Reproduction”.

  12. I forgot Big Brother and the Holding Company “Cheap Thrills.”

    There have been others that have been in heavy rotation at one time or another, but all of them I’ve listed have been in heavy rotation since the 1980s to today.

  13. What must be the top whatever:

    1. The Allman Brothers–Live at Fillmore East/Eat a Peach (it’s all one concert)
    2. Manfred Mann–Somewhere in Afrika
    3. Fairport Convention–Liege and Lief
    4. Richard Thompson–Watching the Dark
    5. Sandy Denny–Who Knows Where the Time Goes
    6. Charles Mingus–Mingus Ah Um
    7. Weather Report–Mysterious Traveller/Black Market
    8. Bert Jansch–Moonshine
    9. June Tabor–Against the Streams

    Yes, yes, too many. I contain multitudes.

  14. Pink Floyd – The Wall
    The Cars – Candy-O
    Led Zepplin – IV
    Steve Roach – Dreamtime Return
    Michael Stearns – The Lost World
    Loreena McKennett – The Mask and Mirror
    Andreas Vollenveider – Book of Roses