Jeff Giles – Coldplay, with “Clocks.”
Ha ha ha! Just kidding. I wanted to see that vein on Rob’s forehead pop out.
Rob Smith – Very funny, Jeff. That’s really … Ow! My head! (Ed. Note: Rob Smith hates Coldplay. Remember that when you’re submitting suggestions to the Rob Smith Can’t Say No column.)
The first one that comes to mind is Phish’s “Character Zero” and Trey Anastasio’s “Alive Again,” which both hooked me for reasons I cannot adequately explain and which enticed me to fall, hard, for a band I’d had zero interest in beforehand. A good friend of mine tried to get me into them in college, with poorly recorded live tapes and a worn copy of Junta, but they didn’t do the trick. But give me songs that repeat ad nausem, respectively, “I ought to see the man Mulcahy,” and “Summer’s comin’ and I’d like a review,” and off I went.
And off I still am. There are entire weeks when I listen to nothing else but the live shows I own. Go figure.
David Medsker – I have several, but here are the three that spring to mind.
Ween, “Even If You Don’t,” from White Pepper
Flaming Lips, “Race for the Prize,” from The Soft Bulletin
Panic at the Disco, “Nine in the Afternoon,” from Pretty. Odd.
Will Harris – I’ll absolutely second David’s nomination of Ween’s “Even If You Don’t.” I won’t say that I’m truly a fan of the band’s work, but that song and the album surrounding it – White Pepper – sold me on regularly checking into their output just as “Push th’ Little Daisies” (from Pure Guava) made me want to stay far, far away…which, come to think of it, says just about everything you need to know about the general effect Ween’s music has on listeners.
For me, though, I’ve got to go with Tom Waits. Everyone always says that he’s a genius, but I didn’t even know who he was until right around the time Frank’s Wild Years came out, an album which I think even diehard Waits fans would agree is not what you’d call the best starting point for most newbies. Indeed, it frightened me away from his music for more than 20 years, but as a music critic, I always felt guilty about that and kept telling myself that I’d probably appreciate him more if I started from the very beginning…and, eventually, I confirmed that I was right about that. Once I heard “Martha,” from Waits’ debut album, 1973’s Closing Time, I finally got what people had been telling me all along. I’m still not quite up to testifying on behalf of Frank’s Wild Years, though. But I feel like I’m getting there.
Dave Lifton – “I Walk The Line” by Johnny Cash. Growing up, I had dismissed all of country music with the usual stereotypes. Even after I learned that Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello were fans, I couldn’t see what the fuss was about. To me, he was an anachronism that you’d see on the Jerry Lewis Telethon or “The Tonight Show.” But in about 1992 or 1993 I was working shipping/receiving in a retail store that played the local oldies station, and “I Walk the Line” would occasionally come on. Between the way the song keeps changing key and that incredible voice cut through the tedium of the day, I realized I had been wrong about him. Not too long after that the American Recordings album came out, and blew my mind.
Dan Wiencek – I never liked the Beach Boys growing up. They just seemed a bunch of perky, white bread guys who sang about a lifestyle I suspected even then they didn’t actually live. (I was not surprised when I found out Brian Wilson hated surfing.) Then one day I heard “God Only Knows.” I had heard it before, of course, but on this occasion I really heard it: the glorious introduction, the melody that seems to ascend higher and higher, the wise-beyond-its-years lyric. Sometime after that I splurged for The Pet Sounds Sessions box, and I was officially hooked.
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