Most of us here at Murfie have been lucky enough to spend time with our Grandparents (and some of our Great-Grandparents as well!). Music is something that can easily be tied to memories, and musical memories of our Grandparents are some of the best ones.
In honor of Grandparents Day, Sunday, Sept. 7th, here are some albums that remind us of Grandma and Grandpa!
Matt:Lawrence Welk – 22 Big Band Favorites –“My grandparents were married during the Great Depression, so the big band music of that era, up and through World War II, was always their favorite. Dancing to big band music was one of their favorite activities. When visiting Grandma and Grandpa’s house as kids, my brother and I were forced to watch the Lawrence Welk show that aired on public television. We would reluctantly sit through the show—accordion solos and all—and rejoice when the show ended. In spite of my disdain for the TV show, big band music, particularly that by Lawrence Welk and his band, now bring back fond memories of my Grandparents.”
Andrew:Johnny Cash – 16 Biggest Hits –“I was not at all shocked to discover one day that my grandmother owned no fewer than three copies of Johnny Cash’s 16 Biggest Hits.”
Kayla:The Beatles – 1 –“My grandpa always told a story about when The Beatles visited Milwaukee. He said that everyone lined the street to watch the fab four drive by, and when they passed my grandpa, grandma, and their young children, they slowed down and complimented their beautiful family. My grandma would always say ‘Oh, Bruce!’ whenever she caught him telling me stories like that, so I’m not exactly sure if it’s true, but I like to think it is. :) I got my grandpa this Beatles 1 compilation, and I’ll never forget showing him how to put the CD in the player, turn it on, and press play. He immediately recognized and started singing along with the song ‘Love Me Do.'”
Steve: The Transporter (Original Motion Picture Score) –“Once upon a time, I was visiting my Grandma in California and she asked me if I would like to watch her favorite movie. I was all prepared for something out of the black and white era, when she proceeded to pull ‘Transporter 3’ up on DVR.”
Kayla: Father’s Day weekend is here, and many of us are taking time to say “thank you” to the guy who showed us so much about life. If your dad is anything like mine, he’s a huge music lover. I remember sitting on the couch with Dad, watching Pop Up Video on VH1 for hours, singing along to “Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt, and “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey.
My dad tells a funny story about the first time I ever spoke a “complete sentence” in front of him. He said we were in our usual couch spot, watching Pop Up Video, when I turned to him and said, “Maybe the Wed Hot Chiwi Peppews will come on!”. (I’m from Wisconsin, but for some reason I spoke with a weird New-York-sounding accent when I was little.) My Dad said that he was so surprised and amazed to hear my first real phrase be about RHCP.
A lot of us have musical memories like these, whether your dad likes classic rock, funk, or classical composers. I asked the Murfie staff to share some musical memories they have of their dads, along with particular albums that come to mind. I hope you enjoy!
John: “Any album by The Beach Boys reminds me of my pops. I remember the ride home from daycare when I was little always seemed to include a Beach Boys tape. A lot of those songs are on Endless Summer.”
Jeff: “Blood, Sweat & Tears is one of my dad’s favorite bands and he plays them all the time. I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone else who likes this band.”
Andrew: “This CD [Prime Prine] never left my Dad’s ’94 Plymouth Voyager. It was a staple on all of our family vacations.”
Steve: “My dad use to listen to Jagged Little Pill in the car when we lived in Oregon in ~96′. He would turn down the music when she drops F-bombs to protect my young and impressionable ears”
Marc: “There was very little music in my house growing up. Radio was almost always talk stations with NPR classical in the car on Sunday mornings. However, I do remember many car rides back from Sunday church with The Kingston Trio in the tape deck, and, with the amazing technology of bi-directional tape decks, on infinite repeat.”
Jason: “My parents almost always had music on in the car, and on Sundays they would play ‘oldies’ on 101.5 FM in Madison for a few hours in the morning (this was before the 24/7 Oldies stations). My dad was in a band in the 60’s and was into a wide-range of music from that era, but this album [Car & Driver] has a lot of his favorites.”
Matt W: “My father was very particular about the music we had playing in the car when we went to see relatives. Depending on the relative we were visiting it would either be Richard Thompson or Wagner.”
James: “It was Pop’s duty to clean the house every Saturday while Mom worked; he needed to look after us kids as well, but he never really considered that a chore. Two things would usually accompany his cleaning: records and a cocktail. The drink was usually either a 7&7 or a CC&7, and while the records would rotate through whatever Colombia House had sent that month, he would always find his way back to Abraxas or Steppenwolf Live. Whenever I hear ‘Oye Como Va’ or ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ it brings me right back to those golden Saturdays – and I am reminded of MY first drink, as a 5 or 6 year old. I had just come in from playing outside, parched, and saw his cocktail on the kitchen table. I mistook it for an inexplicably unattended, but probably refreshing, lemon-lime soda; the condensation glistening in the soft afternoon light, taunting my thirst, begging me gulp some down. Now, Pop was watching from around the corner as all this was happening, and as witness he loved to tell this story. At that point in the tale he would pantomime my reaction (sometimes with an added spit take for the extra funny) and double over in uproarious laughter – he said he could never forget the look of disgust and shock on my face after I lowered the glass from my lips, but unfortunately he could never remember whether it was a 7&7 or a CC&7.”
Pete: “My Dad loved music, and Frank Sinatra was without doubt his favorite artist of all time. I remember as a kid sitting for hours with my older brother flicking through his vinyl record collection—he had a lot of Beatles 45 EP’s too. One album I remember him asking us to buy him for his birthday during the mid 80’s was Legend. Whenever I hear the song ‘One Love’ or see this album sleeve, it always reminds me of my Dad.”
Lena: “My dad consistently listened to show High Standards with Jonathan Schwartz and the Real Jazz channel on Sirius. Just hearing the name Wynton Marsalis reminds me of him. I think my dad has a soft spot for Chet Baker, and so do I—it’s hard not to once you start listening.”
Leah: “My dad has always been a blast to drive around with, since he loves to play all sorts of music at full volume in his car. During my childhood, his picks centered on rockers like ZZ Top, Spin Doctors, and Nirvana, but as I aged, his tastes progressed to everything from Rage Against the Machine, to The Used (yes, really), to The Shins, to a fantastic Argentine accordian player named Chango Spasiuk. However, the fact that my dad will to this day still randomly chant that main distorted guitar riff from Smash Mouth‘s ‘Walkin’ on the Sun’ (‘ehh-EH-eh-EH-EH’) made this an easy choice amongst all of his favorites for jammin’ out.”
Mother’s Day can often mean a trip back home to spend the day with a certain woman who raised you. I love a good family tradition (and I love my mom even more), but let’s face it: A day of listening to music released circa your mom’s high school years can get a little, well… old. Here are three suggestions to bring your mom into the 21st century, music-wise, this Mother’s Day. Take them for a spin this Sunday—they’re guaranteed to not contain too many lyrics that will make family listening time uncomfortable. (Author’s Note: All albums have been successfully test-driven by my mom.)
This 2012 record was the beginning of something big: Frank Ocean is one of the most incredibly talented singers and songwriters of our time. This record is packed full of the stuff of legends: One-of-a-kind lyrics, an ambitious sound, and a sizable helping of passion and philosophy. Ocean is a storyteller, and his stories highlight the best and the worst of what it’s like to be alive.
Musically, this album is a mishmash in the best possible way. It fuses influences from decades past (think ’70s funk sounds and ’90s hip-hop) with a new and thoroughly modern groove, including truly awesome use of quiet electronic percussion. There’s also heavy soul influence here–moments on this album suggest flashbacks to Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. I rarely listen to R&B, but I sure would if it all sounded like this. The songs have tight verses that hit you with incredible impact. The sheer force of emotion on this album hits you hard, creating a soundtrack for those who have lived, loved–and most of all, lost.
Up until now, Jack White has been part of a group, whether alongside Meg White of The White Stripes or the rest of The Raconteurs. On this album, however, he’s the star: Not only is this a great solo record, it also holds its own among White’s incredible discography as part of a band. White’s reflections on life and love might tear you apart, but you’ll manage to enjoy every moment of the gut-wrenching process.
For White, going solo means that all his crazy musical ideas and influences find a home. This album contains traces of everything from old-school R&B all the way through modern country music. From his cover of Little Willie John‘s 1960 hit “I’m Shakin” to his use of fiddles and mandolins on “Blunderbuss”, a lot of ground is covered here. Jack White isn’t an easy man to figure out-—nor does he want to be: despite track after track lamenting the heartbreak of love, his female backup chorus includes his ex-wife Karen Elson. A few listens of this album, however, leave you with the impression that Jack White does his best work when he’s a little shrouded in mystery.
Don’t Miss Tracks: “Love Interruption”, “Sixteen Saltines”
For a group with such a stellar big-band sound, it’s hard to believe that The Black Keys are a two-man show. This album comes after both members took some time away from their main band, trying their hand at other projects. It was a well-needed break: This album is their best release in years, cementing their own unique sound and their position atop the blues-rock food chain. This is nothing incredibly new or different, but that’s why I love them: Consistency is key with a group that constantly delivers music that just sounds like a good time.
This album very successfully plays around with a variety of styles, incorporating everything from up-tempo beats on “Howlin’ For You” to quiet, haunting harpsichord on “Too Afraid to Love You”. My personal favorite addition, however, is vocalist Dan Auerbach’s incorporation of falsetto, For a band that’s made a name with its bluesy sound, a falsetto was certainly a surprise (and a welcome one at that). He nails the sound on tracks like “Everlasting Light”, bringing a much-needed new edge into the mix. For longtime fans like myself, this album set a new standard for the band, turning classic bluesy sounds into something fresh and creative.
Don’t Miss Tracks: “Everlasting Light”, “Howlin’ For You”
You can tell that spring is in the air—especially in Madison! It’s nice to wake up on a legitimately sunny day to the sound of birds chirping and —er—busses going down your street.
Spring is about all kinds of things: growth, new life, moving on, taking vacations, deep-cleaning your room, and throwing out the ol’ stack of pizza boxes. For us music lovers at Murfie, we’ve got a few album recommendations that are the soundtracks to our spring activities!
The Best of the Stray Cats: Rock this Town (Stray Cats) “I have no idea why I associate this album with spring, but whenever I listen to it I recall the cool breeze of fresh air through long-closed bedroom windows and the faint smell of lilac in the air. Maybe it’s because spring heralds the return of summer driving and there’s a lot of songs on this album about cars. My personal favorite from this album is ‘Rumble in Brighton’, which was my gateway drug into experimenting with rockabilly guitar.” – Jason
“Actor-Caster is chock full of carefree pop songs whose jangly guitars and mellow basslines perfectly coddle the apathy that overcomes me when higher temperatures transform the indoors from the warm haven that protected me from snow to the cruel prison denying me the long-forgotten wonders of sunshine and fresh air. The first time I heard this band was at a concert a few years ago in early April, and ever since they’ve been my go-to artist for bringing in the summertime.” – Andrew
“I usually prefer Billie Holiday, but she can be a bit heavy in the lightness of spring. For spring, I prefer someone lighter like Dinah Washington. Dinah makes me wish I had a big convertible and could drive through winding roads with the top down, sun shining and birds singing. ” – Tiffany
“I can’t rightly say why, but I find myself listening The Verve’s A Northern Soul with increased frequency these past few weeks. Likely, it’s the don’t-give-a-frak abandon of Nick McCabe’s guitar. Yeah, there’s the necessary pastoral work in there, too, but that’s not why you listen to The Verve. You listen to get clobbered. Perfect for crashing bikes and breaking bones which, if history is any testament, are apparently two of my favorite things to do come spring.” – Marc
Chutes too Narrow (The Shins) “The earnest energy of this album is perfect for bopping around your apartment as you get all of your cleaning and spring projects done, and so wonderfully melodic that it’s hard to resist singing along :)” – Leah
“I find a little CSN helps when preparing the yard during spring.” – Pete
Courage to Grow (Rebelution) “Overall, Courage to Grow has really great themes: The lyrics suggest we change our social habits to be more conscious and respectful. Plus, the cool vibes from songs like ‘Feeling Alright’ make me look forward to a (hopefully) relaxing summer just around the corner. I strongly recommend this one—and it’s fun to listen to when I clean my room!” – Kayla
Tell us, what music is the soundtrack to your spring?
“Whether getting ready to go out with friends or staying home with your sweetie, it is impossible to listen to Hot Chocolate‘s ‘You Sexy Thing’ and all the other great 70’s classics on this album without dancing or at least smiling.” —Tiffany
“Not only is this a fantastic rock album, but Boys & Girls covers the full range of emotions associated with love — from the simple, honest, and blissful ‘I Found You’, to the wailing, angst-ridden ‘Heartbreaker’. Top it all off with a track called ‘Be Mine’ and I can’t help but make this my V-Day pick!” —Leah
Thanksgiving is just around the corner…and it’s a perfect time to remember to be grateful for all the good things in life. (And to eat!). Here are some albums that our Murfie staffers are grateful for as the holiday approaches.
Name: John Thanksgiving plans: I think I’m going to go chill with my grandma. Not entirely sure yet. Album I’m thankful for: I’m thankful for Ambient 1 by Brian Eno. This was one of the first albums that introduced me to ambient, experimental and avant-garde music, and it really introduced me to a ton of amazing and artistically satisfying music and people in my life.
Name: Daniella Thanksgiving plans: Every year my family drives Up North and we have a big bonfire, eat tons of food, and take lots of naps. Album I’m thankful for:Teaser and the Firecat by Cat Stevens.
Name: Marc Thanksgiving plans: None in particular, although I imagine I’ll cook food :) Album I’m thankful for: My Early Burglary Years by Morrissey – Not necessarily the best collection of his you can buy, but it does pack in several of my favorite Morrissey tracks.
Name: Leah Thanksgiving plans: Headed home to a cozy family Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle’s place in Chicago (fireplace, comfy couch, great conversation) and spending quality time together at our family’s restaurant. Album I’m thankful for:The Life Pursuit by Belle & Sebastian – this album was my first foray into the always-fun Belle & Sebastian, and as I dug back through their earlier stuff I found many of what are now my go-to tunes when I’m feeling down or stressed-out.
Name: Adam Thanksgiving plans: Spending quality time with my beloved family in Minnesota. Eating ridiculous amounts of food and watching football. Maybe looking through Black Friday ads. Album I’m thankful for: Classics by Ratatat. It’s one of the first albums I can remember that made me think, “Hmmmm, music doesn’t always need lyrics to paint a picture.” And for that I’m thankful.
Name: Gao Thanksgiving plans: Watching the Packers destroy the Lions with my boyfriend’s family. Album I’m thankful for:Backstreet Boys’ self-titled album. The sappy love songs always cheer me up. Plus, I’ve perfected the reach and grab move.
Name: Elsa Thanksgiving plans: Going to a family friend’s farm in Monroe, WI for a big potluck dinner. Album I’m thankful for:#1 Record by Big Star (1972). The quintessential power pop album, from a band that only became semi-known decades after their demise. This one is particularly special because it has the original lineup of the band, with the songwriting team of Alex Chilton & Chris Bell, both truly gifted singer/guitarists who deserved a lot more recognition than they received. You can hear the album’s influence in a lot of indie rock groups that came out of the ’80s and ’90s.
Name: Matt Thanksgiving plans: Thanksgiving day for football watching and turkey #1 with the in-laws, and Thanksgiving night for turkey #2 with my family. I’ll have to pace myself :) Album I’m thankful for:Moving Up, Living Down by Eric Hutchinson. I’m thankful for having discovered Eric during his live show in Madison over the summer. He’s a terrific performer, and every track on his latest album is terrific, fun listening.
Name: Tyler Thanksgiving plans: Eat, eat…and eat! And of course, watch the Packers. Go Pack Go! Album I’m thankful for: I’m really digging the new Avicii album True. I’ll have a fun time listening to it with my brothers when they are in town for Thanksgiving.
Name: Kayla Thanksgiving plans: Visiting my friends in Milwaukee and eating at my parents’ house (word on the street is my mom’s making gluten free pumpkin cheesecake…yummm). Album I’m thankful for:Is This It by the Strokes. For some reason I feel like my life would not be the same if I never discovered this album in particular. The lyrics, melodies, hooks, and layered instruments really speak to me. And I luuurrve Julian Casablancas :)
What album are you thankful for this year? Let us know in the comments!
It’s Halloweeeen time! Even though it’s not the 31st, it’s safe to say that many folks will be celebrating the year’s spookiest holiday this weekend.
Our staffers have some great Halloween album picks for you, along with great stories to share (with pictures)!
Name: Gao Favorite album for fall/Halloween:Thriller (by Michael Jackson) has always been a favorite. In fact, my family did the Thriller dance at my sister’s wedding reception. Best Halloween costume ever: My sisters made me a dinosaur costume one year. They even built a tail! I stomped around and called myself Gaozilla. What I plan to dress up as this year: This is the first year I’ve bought a costume and didn’t make it. I’ll be a pirate. ARGH!
Name: Daniella Favorite album for fall/Halloween:Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas by Danny Elfman. Best Halloween costume ever: Nerd costumes have included Companion Cube (from Portal), Cthulhu, Harry Potter, and more nerdiness… What I plan to dress up as this year: This year I’m going as Lumpy Space Princess (assuming I can find myself a purple beehive wig).
Name: Tiffany Favorite album for fall/Halloween:Bloodletting by Concrete Blonde. Best Halloween costume ever: It’s a toss-up between Poison Ivy, Medusa, and a dead woman. I don’t have a digital picture of any of those, but I’ve got a picture of my costume as the Moon a few years back. What I plan to dress up as this year: Not sure yet. And even if I knew, I never reveal my costumes before Halloween.
Name: Zach Favorite album for fall/Halloween:Scary Sound Effects (because I remember ripping it). Best Halloween costume ever: Rorschach because I have a mask with an ink blot that warps because of the temperature of your breathing vs. the cold air. What I plan to dress up as this year: I’ll probably hand out candy.
Name: John Favorite album for fall/Halloween:Litanies of Satan by Diamanda Galàs (Close second: Schrei X). Best Halloween costume ever: A few years ago, my band Fambly Fun! performed a Halloween show as Will Smith. That’s right, we had FIVE Will Smiths. We played all the classics from Big Willie Style and Willennium, and even Willow Smith’s then-new “Whip My Hair.” It was a ton of fun. What I plan to dress up as this year: I like to dress up as something timely, yet unexpected. Last year, I dressed up as the Russian feminist punk rock protest band Pussy Riot. This year, who knows!
Name: Steve Favorite album for fall/Halloween:John Denver, classic fall Americana. Best Halloween costume ever: I went as a Power Ranger when I was about 9. I had a glove that makes karate chop noises when you squeezed the thumb to the rest of the fingers. It was sooooo freaking cool. What I plan to dress up as this year: The Man in the Yellow Hat. My girlfriend is going as Curious George.
Name: Noah Favorite album for fall/Halloween: Halloween’s all about the movies, right? And what’s a better combination than Bernard Herrmann’s unforgettable scores to Alfred Hitchcock’s most terrifying movies. Best Halloween costume ever: I went as Sally Bowles from Cabaret, but the makeup ended up looking a bit like Malcolm McDowell from A Clockwork Orange. It kind of worked anyway. What I plan to dress up as this year: I’m thinking of going as a Mondrian painting, but I have a habit of changing my mind at the last minute.
Name: Matt Favorite album for fall/Halloween:Watermark by Enya (music for relaxing until Halloween is over). Best Halloween costume ever: I’ll be the party pooper in the group and go on the record that I’ve never really enjoyed dressing up for Halloween—not as a kid, and certainly not as an adult. I find it a bit disturbing that Halloween has become a bigger draw for adults than children. If Halloween need be celebrated at all, at least let the kids regain the run of things. What I plan to dress up as this year: I’m not planning to dress up again this year, for obvious reasons.
Name: Marc Favorite album for fall/Halloween:The Good, the Bad & the Queen. Meticulously somber, strolling music for when chill winds throw leaves past your feet. Best Halloween costume ever: A few years over the past decade I’ve iterated a costume inspired by a recurrent nightmare I used to have. I once made a bellhop at the Concourse jump back as I crept along the street. What I plan to dress up as this year: Probably no costume, since I probably won’t have the time to put into making one.
Name: Preston Favorite album for fall/Halloween:October Project:) Best Halloween costume ever: My best? That was Satan working to recruit a manager ready to to Sell Their Soul to get in “Below Ground Level!!” managing the exclusive franchise I had just negotiated to open a line of Starbucks cafes in The 9th Circle of Hell. My pitch was that it’s “…the only place in the universe where another Starbucks can possibly improve the neighborhood.” It was a play on a joke in this animation, but you might want to watch the whole set for context. What I plan to dress up as this year: It’ll be a game day decision. One possibility is that I’ll dress in a suit with a giant American flag lapel clip holding a pacifier on a red, white, and blue ribbon, with “I <3 Ayn Rand” stenciled on an Elephant on a T-shirt underneath. I’ll blackmail people into giving me some of their candy by threatening to do something that would embarrass us both. If they foolishly give me candy, I’ll come back later, scream and cry loud enough to be heard that they have way too much candy, and whine that they won’t negotiate with me to meet me part way and give me some of the rest. Ideally, this will be a team costume and include someone who plays the world’s tiniest violin each time I don’t get what I want. If things go poorly for them, I might also just go as The Ghost of The Republican Party, or conversely if democrats cooperate in sacking the poor, I might be an old person looking for information on which cat food tastes best.
Name: Leah Favorite album for fall/Halloween: Something about Nick Drake is just perfect for an autumn stroll. Best Halloween costume ever: A tie between Pam from the Office (I found Jim on State St!) and a Frenchman (fake cigarette, I promise). Oh and I went as an old woman when I was in second or third grade, which was hilarious. What I plan to dress up as this year: A flower :D I found directions for an awesome DIY flower headpiece thing online, and my rest of the body will be the stem – a “Leahlac”, you might say.
Name: Tyler Favorite album for fall/Halloween:For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver. An album to listen to bundled up with your favorite blanket and a cup of hot chocolate. Best Halloween costume ever: Don’t know what the name of the costume is, but I was dressed as a headless guy who was carrying his own head in his hands and the head was my head. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a picture :(
What I plan to dress up as this year: I’ll be handing out candy this year, so no dressing up for me. But our two dogs will be dressed in Packer uniforms!
Name: Kayla Favorite album for fall/Halloween: Anything with The Monster Mash. Best Halloween costume ever: Probably last year when I was a strawberry, since I made the costume by myself. The only thing is, everyone thought I was a watermelon—even though I had yellow seeds! =\ Some other notable costumes: Esmeralda, Avril Lavigne, and Zombie Tinkerbell. What I plan to dress up as this year:Amy Winehouse (I bought a wig!). I’ll have fake tattoos, thick eyeliner, an empty bottle of Jack, and all that good stuff. My roommate and I are planning on having a séance for her on the 31st.
Big thank you to all the moms who had fun picking out pictures for this post! Have a fun and safe Halloween, everyone!