Versus AARP’s 10 Essential Boomer Albums
As part of their Boomers @50+ feature, the good ‘ol (and I mean that in the most respectful manner) folks over at AARP gathered up a handful of prominent Baby-Boomers to highlight three of the popular arts linked to those born between 1946 and 1964. The same 76 million who “…reaped all the benefits of the postwar period’s extraordinary economic growth.” And as labeled by other gens, “The spoiled brats.”
I be one.
Admittedly, I probably match up with the latter more than I care to reveal. As P.J. O’Rourke wrote in his contributing essay:
“Yes, we’re spoiled rotten. We’re self-absorbed. And it seems like we’ll never shut up. But the boomers made a better world for everyone else. You’re welcome.”
“The boomers have been good at taking things: Mom’s car without permission, drugs, umbrage at the establishment, draft deferments, advantage of the sexual revolution, and credit for the civil rights and women’s liberation movements that rightly belongs to prior generations. The one thing that can be left in plain sight without us putting our sticky mitts on it is responsibility. Ask our therapists. Or the parents we haven’t visited at the extended-care facility.”
If I do anything on this blog, it is to examine the arts of books, music, and movies. Along with my history (or angst), with them. I confess it’s a tad self-absorbed, and so typical of my generation. With that said, I’ll add my set to the well-known contributors AARP selected for each of their Essential Boomer picks. Next up, Nelson George takes on the following with his all-star list:
Highway 61 Revisited (1965) by Bob Dylan — Nelson: “Dylan rankled folk fans by going electric, but he also expanded his audience and influenced a generation with songs that have been analyzed (and lionized) ever since.” Me: Once more, I can’t argue against a selection, or its high placement.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club (1967) by The Beatles — Nelson: “The culmination of years of artistic maturation and bold experimentation. The original rock concept LP.” Me: Two for two, and for something no self-respecting Beatlemaniac would disagree with, especially for its influence.
What’s Going On (1971) by Marvin Gaye — Nelson: “The sexy love man took on civil rights, the environment and inner-city turmoil, changing the tone of R & B, both lyrically and musically.” Me: Nelson can sure pick them as I’m in total agreement. Changed a whole outlook on an artist and music.
Tapestry by Carole King — Nelson: “King’s songs of love lost, found and wasted spoke to the Me Generation’s turn toward introspection.” Me: Let’s just go ahead and say ‘ditto’. Nelson nailed it.
Led Zeppelin IV (1971) by Led Zeppelin — Nelson: “Mystical and bombastic, acoustic and brash, Zeppelin defined ’70s rock (and FM radio).” Me: All true, Mr. George. However, for me and mine Revolver (1966) had the bigger impact.
Exile on Main Street (1972) by The Rolling Stones — Nelson: “Incorporating blues, soul, country and gospel, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards dug deep into the era’s spiritual malaise and made the Stones’ most emotional album.” Me: We’re back in sync.
Innervisions (1973) by Stevie Wonder — Nelson: “The best of a series of innovative, hit-filled albums Wonder made in a 1970s creative surge, Innervisions changed the sound of popular music.” Me: Arguably, Stevie’s finest work.
Eagles: Greatest Hits 1971 -1975 (1976) by The Eagles — Nelson: “The Southern California rock band was both romantic and cynical, diluting any sweetness with a bitter edge that reflected the compromises of adulthood.” Me: Really? A compilation album? I’ll give you something better from a Southern California rock band that wasn’t a ‘best of’ collection, Pet Sounds (1966) by The Beach Boys.
Exodus (1977) by Bob Marley & The Wailers — Nelson: “The sensual, spiritual album that helped make reggae one of the most popular musical genres in the world.” Me: I hate to pick against Bob Marley, but I’ll have to go with the album from 10 years prior, Are You Experienced (1967) by The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track (1977) by Various — Nelson: “The percolating rhythms of disco captured the zest, decadence and hustling of the dance boom.” Me: What Nelson said is true, I was there. But I can’t agree to this high a placement. If boomers want rhythms and dance, look no further than Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
15 Responses to “Versus AARP’s 10 Essential Boomer Albums”
Interesting list and looking at the albums mentioned I have to admit that I’ve only listened to two of them: Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson.
Yes, many are older albums. From a time that registers with a good deal of people my age. Thanks for the comment, Nostra. 🙂
I love your list. They are old friends. Especially ‘Tapestry’. Good God, what a depressing album 😉
Thank you very kindly, Cindy. And indeed Tapestry is. Kinda hit my mood when it was released (and while I crushed on a girl a grade ahead in high school).
I’m in complete agreement on YOUR list. If Innervisions didn’t have much impact on me, I recognize what it did for everyone else. If this was a personal list rather than for all Boomers, I’d replace Innervisions with CCR’s Cosmo’s Factory.
Thank you very much, Naomi. Glad you included something other Boomers will recognize and appreciate, too. Especially if it’s from CCR. 🙂
Some excellent choices, both collectively and singly, Michael!
Personally, ‘Blood on the Tracks’ inches out ‘Highway 61’, which shows lots of innovation and branching into other arenas. While ‘Blood’ excels in good old fashioned story telling.
‘Rubber Soul’ is more vintage Beatles. While ‘Sgt. Pepper’ opens up a whole new and wast world of imagination and discovery!
‘What’s Going One’ is made for the night time. While ‘Tapestry’ is more for gray, rainy afternoons. Both leave their marks. Writ large.
Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of The Moon’. While ‘Exile’ excels in personal revelations.
I’ll opt for The Band’s ‘Rock of Ages’ over The Eagles. Great catch on ‘Pet Sounds’!
Kudos for ‘Are You Experienced’. With a side order of ‘Cream’ and ‘The Who’.
Completely missed the boat with Disco and Michael Jackson. I’ll go with the soundtrack(s) to either ‘Shaft’, ‘Super Fly’ or ‘Tommy’.
Great catch on those other sound tracks, Kevin! As I have it on vinyl, I think I’d swap out Thriller for Super Fly, if I had to include a movie album on this. Great selections on your part, my friend. Many thanks!
Hendrix over Marley? Michael Jackson over SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER? Oh hell yeah! Agree 100%. But I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree over Zep and the Eagles. 😉
Great to hear your thoughts on this, John. Many thanks, my friend.
Whole lot of good albums on both Nelson’s list and your picks, Michael. I’d go with LZ4 over Revolver, but I am, after all, of a younger generation. I’ll admit I’m not a big Beatles fan — I seem to like about 50% of their songs on any given album — but Revolver is one of theirs I don’t hear talked up very often. No argument about Hendrix over Marley, though.
I’m also in agreement that picking a compilation album should count as a foul. Can’t tell me he couldn’t have come up with a good Eagles studio album with a little thought. Pet Sounds is a great pick, not just because it’s a superb album, but because it shows (just as Sgt. Pepper did) how much range some of these bands really had. It’s a bit more than the surf rock the Beach Boys were known for.
Thriller is an interesting choice, because to me that’s definitely a post-Boomer album. That’s not something my parents would have listened to, it’s what my generation listened to.
Good of you to chime in, Morgan. Great comment. Y’know, I hadn’t considered Thriller would be part of this, too. But then I looked at AARP’s album poll, and lo and behold, they considered it representative and included it. I figure they did so because MJ was a baby-boomer (born 1958)and had an impact with his generation as well as beyond. I still believe Thriller (in great collaboration with Quincy Jones) was his best work, too. Many thanks, my friend.
[…] on a one of the significant albums of the era, and one the AARP happened to miss in their recent Essential Boomers list. Written by Tony Asher (lyrics) and Brian Wilson (music) in 1966, it also has one of the famous […]
I’m early Gen X rather than boomer but Revolver should head the list, the most formally perfect rock album ever made. All killer, no filler, as the Fabs would never have said. I’d drop Pepper for it, if necessary. Others all good, but I’d include Dark Side, perhaps an early Elton album and the Kinks’ wonderful Village Green Preservation Society.
Welcome and thank you for those selections. Some splendid ones more than worthy of consideration, to be sure. 🙂