Thursday, February 28, 2013

Part 6: The Cherry On Top

   


Part 1 - Perfect Timing
Part 2 - Melkmen and All Stars
Part 3 - Streaking to a Division Championship
Part 4 - Off The Mat
Part 5 - The Slide, #RallyZito, and Rain

San Francisco Giants (Since 1979)
Playoff Appearances - 8 (87,89,97,00,02,03,10,12)
NLCS - 4-1 (87,89,02,10,12)
World Series - 2-2 (89,02,10,12)



      When I started out with this series on the 2012 San Francisco Giants I never imagined it to be this long. I set out to do it in one part. That turned in to 3, then 5, and now finally 6. I don't know all the reasons it turned out this long. But it did. I hope people have enjoyed reading and reliving last year as I have writing about it.

     It's tough to let go of something that means so much to you. There will never be another year like 2012. It's time for me to close the book and make it a memory. I know it probably takes a few minutes to sit and read any or all 6 parts. So once again, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Part 5: The Slide, #RallyZito, and Rain

Part 1 - Perfect Timing
Part 2 - Melkmen and All Stars
Part 3 - Streaking to a Division Championship
Part 4 - Off The Mat 
Part 6 - The Cherry On Top

San Francisco Giants (Since 1979)

Playoff Appearances - 8 (87,89,97,00,02,03,10,12)
NLCS - 4-1 (87,89,02,10,12)
World Series - 2-2 (89,02,10,12)

2012 San Francisco Giants (94-68, Won World Series)


Part 5: The Slide, #RallyZito, and Rain


     It was only fitting that the Giants opponent for the 2012 NLCS was the St. Louis Cardinals. In the history of the National League the franchises that have stood above the rest are the Cardinals, Dodgers, and the Giants. The oldest franchise belongs to the Reds. Surpassing the Dodgers and then beating the Reds should lead to a meeting with St. Louis. It's they way things should be done. Baseball is about history and roots, and the Giants were about to leave their mark forever.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Part 4: Off The Mat


Part 1 - Perfect Timing
Part 2 - Melkmen and All Stars
Part 3 - Streaking to a Division Championship
Part 5 - The Slide, #RallyZito, and Rain
Part 6 - The Cherry On Top


San Francisco Giants (Since 1979)
Playoff Appearances - 8 (87,89,97,00,02,03,10,12)
NLCS - 4-1 (87,89,02,10,12)
World Series - 2-2 (89,02,10,12)





2012 San Francisco Giants (94-68, Won World Series)

Part 4: Off The Mat


     The Giants clinched the division a full two weeks before their first playoff game. It gave Bochy the chance to rest who he wanted, when he wanted, as well as line up the pitching. There was never a doubt that Matt Cain would be taking the ball to start the playoffs. After watching this team for 4 straight months I wasn't just happy to have the Giants in the playoffs, I thought they could win it all. There was a cohesion that I have talked about before with this bunch. Everyone knew their role. Back in 2010 when the Giants were heading to the playoffs they were sneaky good, this time around they came at you in all parts of the game.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Part 3: Streaking to a Division Championship

Part 1 - Perfect Timing
Part 2 - Melkmen and All Stars
Part 4 - Off The Mat
Part 5 - The Slide, #RallyZito, and Rain
Part 6 - The Cherry On Top


San Francisco Giants (Since 1979)
Playoff Appearances - 8 (87,89,97,00,02,03,10,12)
NLCS - 4-1 (87,89,02,10,12)
World Series - 2-2 (89,02,10,12)



2012 San Francisco Giants (94-68, Won World Series)


Part 3: Streaking to a Division Championship

     The month of July was a battle for the Giants. They had the positive vibes of the All Star Game, but were a team that still hadn't fully found their identity. The Giants finished July with a 12-12 record, but it was a struggle the whole way. They lost 5 of 6 on the first of two eastern road trips in D.C. and Pittsburgh. In the other road trip the Giants took the first 2 from both Philly and Atlanta and lost the 3rd game to not complete the sweep. July ended and August began with the home team going 3-7 at AT&T Park. It was a constant fight with the Dodgers and looked like it would be for the rest of the season. That's when Brian Sabean, Bruce Bochy, and PED's changed the course of history.

Part 2: Melkmen and All Stars

Part 1 - Perfect Timing
Part 3 - Streaking to a Division Championship
Part 4 - Off The Mat
Part 5 - The Slide, #RallyZito, and Rain
Part 6 - The Cherry On Top


San Francisco Giants (Since 1979)
Playoff Appearances - 8 (87,89,97,00,02,03,10,12)
NLCS - 4-1 (87,89,02,10,12)
World Series - 2-2 (89,02,10,12)



2012 San Francisco Giants (94-68, Won World Series)

Part 2: Melkmen and All Stars

     The Giants acquired Melky Cabrera from the Kansas City Royals in a trade for Jonathan Sanchez. I will forever love Sanchez, but he had become an unknown. The stuff that had helped the Giants win in 2010 had disappeared. So when the Giants traded him for outfield help before the 2012 season I was sad to see him go. Melky Cabrera came up with the Yankees. Early on he came through a few times and became a fan favorite, but it didn't take long for the Bronx to turn on him. There seemed to be potential, but it never came together. Melky was a 4th outfielder in Atlanta in 2010, he didn't do much and seemed on the verge of turning in to an end of the bench kind of guy. Kansas City signed him for 1.25 mil for the 2011 season, and Melky thrived playing with no pressure. As an every day player he put up career best numbers with 205 hits and a .305 batting average. 

     This is a good time to point out that I am not sidestepping Melky and the PED's. That just comes at a later time.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Part 1: Perfect Timing

    When it came to tackling the most significant baseball season of my lifetime the task got a lot harder. First of all, no other season has affected me like last year's Giants. Secondly, we are fresh off that season. So unlike the other posts I made, less research was needed to jog the memory about all the events. Third and finally, the 2012 Giants season was my first without my father. A theme you will see intertwined throughout.

     I'm putting a bow on last year. The significance of that season will never be matched. So before we look ahead to this year's team, one last stroll down memory won't hurt. I have too many words to write to make it one blog post, so there will be 5. I'll roll them out over the next few days as we lead in to the meat and potatoes of spring training. Then it's on to 2013.

Once again, thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

One Year Of Glory


     The baseball season is approaching, it seems to have put me in a writing mood. So lately I have been exploring my favorite seasons for my top 4 sports teams. I have previously covered the Chicago Bears here, and the Chicago Bulls here. Next, and last, I will have the San Francisco Giants. As you will see below, hockey is not my favorite sport. I enjoy it, but know nothing of strategy. I can watch a game and understand it, but I have no idea what any of the plays are. Plus, history is always big with me, so I enjoy the rich tradition that is hockey and the Stanley Cup. As always, the team stats are from my lifetime (since 1979)



Chicago Blackhawks
Playoff Appearances - 23 (80-97,02,09-12)
Conf Finals - 2-7 (82,83,85,89,90,92,95,09,10)
Stanley Cup - 1-1 (92,10)


     There really no debate as to the best and my most favorite Chicago Blackhawks season. It is when they won the cup in 2010. My history as a fan of the Hawks had been shaky. I grew up in Chicago's TV market and Bill Wirtz, the owner, blacked out home games. It was the antiquated notion that it would make people come see the games and spend money. You put a good product on the ice, people will come, and ad sales on TV will be huge. So I didn't watch the Hawks as much. They would be on a road trip and there was a game on every other night, then they would disappear for a couple weeks while playing at home. So I barely saw the games. As one friend said to me, I've seen more Miami Dolphins football games than I have Chicago Blackhawks games.

The Bulls and Bar Mitzvah Year


     In my last post I brought up the subject of favorite seasons of all time. I wrote about my favorite Chicago Bears season. I still have to write about my favorite Blackhawks, and San Francisco Giants seasons. Here is my 2nd installment. The Chicago Bulls and the 1991-92 season. Stats below represent my lifetime (33 years).



Chicago Bulls
Playoff Appearances - 22 (81,85-98,05,06,07,09,10,11,12)
Eastern Conference Finals - 6-3 (89-93,96-98,11)
NBA Finals - 6-0 (91-93,96-98)

     
     The Chicago Bulls have won 6 NBA titles. All of them have been won with Michael Jordan. Coincidentally as I write this, it is his 50th birthday. There are so many great seasons to choose from. The 95-96 team is the best of all time. No team in history has ever been better than the 72-10 record put up that year. That was one of the all time "I'll show you" seasons. MJ was in his first full year back after hitting baseballs, and the front office traded for a rebounder named Dennis Rodman. It was a circus, but it was always the best in town. The 95-96 Bulls are up there with the 85 Bears as greatest team Chicago has ever seen.

     That's not the season that was my favorite. Nor was the 90-91 team that won the first title Chicago had ever seen in Basketball. Yes it was great to get over the Pistons hump. To humiliate them like that was quite a bonus. After losing to Magic and the Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals the Bulls rolled off 4 straight victories. The capper was John Paxon repeatedly getting open for jumpers to seal it in Game 5 out in LA. But the first title is always so shocking. Yes it was fun to watch, but so unexpected. The expectations going in to the next season as defending champs with the greatest player on the planet, now that's different. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Favorite That Fell Short

     I have been lucky enough in my lifetime to watch every one of my favorite teams in the "Big 4" win titles. The Bears did it when I was young, the Bulls ruled the 1990s, the Blackhawks had a memorable 2010, and the Giants have won 2 of the last 3 World Series trophies. These teams were champions, but they were not always the most memorable.

     Sometimes your personal favorite isn't the team that won a title. So I decided to explore my favorite season from each of the teams I mentioned. Originally this was meant to be one blog, but I wrote more than expected on the Bears. So I'll do one for each team over the next few days.


Chicago Bears
Playoff Appearances - 13 (79,84-88,90,91,94,01,05,06,10)
NFC Champ Games - 2-3 (84,85,88,06,10)
Super Bowl - 1-1 (85,06)

     When you think of the Chicago Bears your mind goes one place, right? The 1985 team. At least, if you are over 30 that's what you think. Otherwise, the Bears haven't been a cornerstone team in my lifetime. The team that helped found the NFL has just 1 Super Bowl victory in 2 appearances. That's pathetic. We had a chance in the 80's. But year after year something went wrong and the dynasty that I should have grown up with was never meant to be. So yes, 1985 is huge in my mind. But it is nowhere near my favorite season of all time. That belongs to the 2001 team coached by the most boring man on Earth, Dick Jauron.

     That season was one of the most "holy shit, where did that come from" seasons you will ever see. The Bears started off that season losing to the defending champion Ravens 17-6. The D showed signs of a good season, the O was about what we had come to expect as Bears fans. After the week off because of the Sept. 11 attacks the Bears ran off a streak that was dominant as a Defense.  The beat the Vikings at home and then throttled the new wonder kid of the NFL Michael Vick in his own building. As Bears fans we weren't sure if this was another good but not good enough team, but after 4 straight victories in which they had given up a total of 26 points we all thought there was a chance. Then the 49ers came to town.

     I don't like the sight of the 49ers all that much. The first year that I remember football was 1984 and the Bears lost 23-0 in the NFC Championship game to Montana and the Niners. In 1988 the Bears went 14-2 and had home field for the game this time and put up a huge nothing in the freezing cold against guess who again. I remember watching with my dad as the 49ers built up a 28-9 3rd quarter lead. Suddenly the Offense with Shane Matthews leading the way and a young duo of Anthony Thomas and David Terrell scored the points. It was an improbable comeback that became jaw dropping in overtime when a 1st down pass to TO was deflected into the arms on Mike Brown, who raced it in for a touchdown. The crowd went wild and we all felt we had a team that year. 

     The Cleveland Browns came to Soldier Field the next week. Once again the Bears fell behind. With 32 seconds left in the game all hell broke loose. Shane Matthews hit Marty Booker for a 9 yard TD pass. The Bears recovered the onside kick and as time expired Matthews heaved a hail mary down field that James Allen caught on a deflection for a TD. The Bears had tied it and we were going to see OT for the 2nd straight week. This is a "I remember where I was" game for me. After the Bears did nothing on Offense to start the extra period, Cleveland took over in their own territory. On a 3rd down pass by Tim Couch that was tipped in the air, the improbable happened. Mike Brown had another game winning interception in overtime. It was surreal. I don't think any team in the history of football has ever had back to back games like that. From that point forward, all you could do is enjoy the ride.

     The team I always want to see the Bears beat is Green Bay. Of course, the Packers are the only  team besides Baltimore to beat the Bears that season. But it was OK. They had a shot to win the division with a win in the last week of the season. Because of the September 11 attacks the final game became Jacksonville at Chicago. I couldn't go, but I made my way to The Cubby Bear. I sat at a table with 2 other guys that came alone and we had a great time watching the Bears win the final NFC Central crown. James "Big Cat" Williams blocked a FG attempt in the 1st quarter to keep he Jaguars off the board. It gave me the feeling as a fan that there was no way the Bears were losing this one. A 13-0 halftime lead. 

     It got better. In the 3rd quarter Keith Traylor got hold of a Mark Brunnel pass and almost returned it for a touchdown. He made it 67 yeards before Keenan McCardell caught up to him and jumped on his back. If the sight of a big fat man running down the field doesn't get you excited, you have no pulse. It was the highlight of the win. Jim Miller threw a 9 yard TD pass to Terrell, and it was over. A 20-0 lead and a division crown. It was the last year of the 3 division format. So the NFC Central, the division I grew up watching, would be no more. It felt that much sweeter to me as a fan. It felt like the Bears claimed what was rightfully theirs. My 2 new friends and I rejoiced appropriately by hoisting a few.

     Just as expected the Bears bombed in the playoffs against hometown hero Donovan McNabb and the Eagles. Things got worse the following year as the Bears played home games in Champaign, Illinois while Soldier Field was renovated. A 4-12 season in 2002 and the Bears were back to being shitty. But we had 2001. It was a runaway, out of nowhere season. I loved every moment of it and didn't require a championship for it to be a great season to be a fan. Until something new and better comes along, 2001 is my favorite Chicago Bears football season.
   
2001 Chicago Bears: 13-3 (1st NFC Central)

Eric Nathanson

  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Top Ten Albums Of My Life Part 2

The other day I did part 1 of this column. That can be found here

I also took a day in between because I decided to watch the Grammys this year. You can find my take on that here.

Feel free to leave your own thoughts below, and you can check out any of these bands by clicking on the name.



5. Martin Sexton - Live Wide Open (2000)

If you haven't heard of Martin Sexton, you're missing out. The man has been through it all, and sings about it. He not only plays the guitar, but his voice is an instrument all its own. He's got a lot of soul, and wears his heartache in full view of all of us. The live album starts off with "In The Journey" which will always have a deep meaning to me. It is the most autobiographical song I have listened to and thought, that's me.  "Beast In Me" really does, and having "Hallelujah" and "Things You Do To Me" back to back was great structure. The end of the first disc makes you want to dance to the "13 Step Boogie".

Disc 2 keeps it going with a long and soulful rendition of "Gypsy Woman". It is the highlight of the entire album. The 2nd disc is Martin at his best. He sings about heartbreak in "Can't Stop Thinking About You", and we get to revisit the teenage years with "Wasted". Another song I have always related to is "Black Sheep". I've used it numerous times in my life. I am always thinking of this song when I do. The "Amazing Grace" at the end thanks us properly for sitting in the church of Martin Sexton for a little while.



4. Jackopierce - Live From The Americas (1993)

This is the stuff right here. I love the acoustic guitar and Jack O'Neill and Cary Pierce play it well. A lot of the time this is down home good fun. I was introduced to these guys after my buddy Brad saw them in concert, through a window, with his brother Brian. He came back raving about the show and hanging out with his brother that Jackopierce became our band. They have studio albums, but the live stuff is so much better. "My Baby" gets it rockin right out of the gate. It slows down with a beautiful "Free" and then focuses on Jack's family in "Back Next Year" and "March". 

All acoustic all the time with some harmonica mixed in as well during the bluesy "Train". We get a little heartbreak in "Along For The Ride", but the best is yet to come. Just listening to this rendition of "Vineyard" makes you want to take a vacation and fall in love. It is Jackopierce's finest moment. "Mexican Tune" is an ad libbed song that they made up. This one brings back such great memories of being a stoned 15 year old using ski poles as microphones while wailing this one out. Some of the greatest times were had to this song. They close it down nicely with "May The Road Rise To Meet You". This album is all about strumming guitars and wailing out some tunes. These guys will be my band forever.



3. Pearl Jam - Ten (1991)

This album was a game changer. Pearl Jam was the best of the bands coming out of Seattle and had a hometown connection with Eddie Vedder. In fact, Eddie's cousins used to live right down the street from me. Eddie Vedder is Chicago, so Pearl Jam seems to have more than one city it can call home. I was 12 when this came out. The perfect age to leave an impression. Pearl Jam seemed to speak for me, my buddies, every kid that was around my age. "Once" starts off slow, but fully kicks in and you lose yourself right away. "Even Flow" gives you a chance to ask questions already, and then "Alive" makes you wonder why you are.  "Why Go" has a frantic pace that comes to a screeching halt with the chilling "Black". Through 5 songs it doesn't seem as if Ten can't get any better.

I watched MTV, we all did. Back then it actually had videos. "Jeremy" was a video and song on a whole other level. I am sure the video has influenced how everyone around my age reacts to this song. I was the age of the kids in the song. It was freaky, and always will be. I fuckin love this song. "Oceans" and "Porch" meld together and feel like one long journey. By the end of those 2 songs the angst is pretty much out.  "Garden" and "Deep" seem to give a glimpse of what Pearl Jam is to become. The topper is ending this album with "Release". This song should be a drug all its own. Pitch black with headphones on is the way to truly experience this. Pearl Jam's Ten was the "it" album of my early teenage years, but I will never grow out of it.



2. Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds - Live At Luther College (1996)

You've read about my love of the acoustic guitar. You haven't read yet how I am a huge Dave Matthews Band fan. I know this isn't the full band, but just Dave and Tim is pure guitar poetry. Top to bottom I still have never listened to a better performance. Live At Red Rocks was the first introduction to DMB live, but this brought it to an orgasmic level. The pureness of "One Sweet World" to open and then my personal favorite DMB song of all time "#41". They start to have a little fun plucking and jamming on "Tripping Billies" and it carries nicely into "Jimi Thing". It hasn't taken long, but the guitars take over you as the show progresses. "Deed Is Done" starts to bring out that devilish side that i love about Dave. The height of the first part of this show is when "Minarets" gets going. There is depth to this song. It brings them together while dancing on the guitar strings. "Dancing Nancies" is always fun, you can be anywhere but where you are.

The 2nd part of the show starts out with a "Typical Situation" that is especially good, and then Tim does his own thing with "Stream". They stay in the jamming mood and run off a tight "Warehouse", but that song would be great underwater. The suspense of the show begins to build again with "Seek Up" leading into "Say Goodbye". Who doesn't love "Say Goodbye"? This version really puts you on a rug in front of a fire, naked, sharing wine. "Ants Marching" is the show stopper with Tim doing things on the guitar that I have never heard before. His fingers must have been shredded after this show. Dave decides to tell a story to some music in "Little Thing", and then they finish strong. "Halloween" and "Granny" further display the mastery of the guitar and it all ends with a "Two Step" that makes you feel as if you can go do anything. I love DMB. I have seen them many times. This show is still the best thing I have ever heard from them.



1. Grateful Dead - American Beauty (1970)

A curve ball right? There's no way you were expecting the Grateful Dead here. You're also wondering how I could choose a studio album over one of their live shows. It's easy. Wasn't even close. This album has too many personal connections for me. It is also a very well put together album that you don't realize is almost over before it's too late. There's some back story as to why I love this album. First of all, the night I fell in love with the Dead, this was playing. I was 17, and yes I had listened to the Dead, but I had never appreciated them. Then, one night while chewing on some fungi, I was taken away. The Grateful Dead were officially a band I could not live without. It continues today. I don't have a bunch of shows, but they will always be background music. Every moment listening to the Dead is just happy time.

"Box Of Rain" is a tidy little tune that gets you swaying. The imagery that comes from "Friend Of The Devil" is great. It always reminds me of that episode of The Simpsons when Homer trips his ass off because of a chili pepper. My all time favorite song is next with "Sugar Magnolia". Nothing tops it. It's my skipping through the tulips song. Makes me happy and I tune everything else out. "Operator" and "Candyman" really connect the dots of the middle of the album. I had a buddy growing up named Scott. His favorite song was "Ripple", and I will always think of him when I hear it. He was close to me for so long that it is pretty much my 2nd favorite Dead song now. Plus, let's be honest, it is so good it's spiritual. The Dead harmonize a bit on "Brokedown Palace" and "Attics Of My Life". The absolute best name for a song, "Till The Morning Comes", also gives you that feeling of waiting for daylight. The final song "Truckin" seems to thank you for listening, but its time to move on now. What a long strange trip it's been indeed.



A few things I learned writing this. The first song on my number 10 pick is the same as the last song on my number 1 pick. I don't know what that means, but it's a strange bookend. Obviously the acoustic guitar is may favorite. It dominates the top 5. I hope you enjoyed this. Check out the bands and albums. I love music, and this has been the music of my life. Feel free to add anything of your own. I welcome feedback and/or interaction. Thanks for reading!

Eric Nathanson


Baseball season is almost here!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Top Ten Albums of My Life Part 1

A couple months ago we were debating in my house about the best albums of all time. It got me thinking and I sat down and made a list. Why? Because I like lists. It's also a heck of a lot of fun to go through the years. Music is one of those things that can transport us. Just hearing a song or listening to an album can make us 15 years old again. We all live with music.

While trying to make this list just 10 albums, I was struck how many were from the 1990's. It seems I pretty much hit a plateau and fell into a type that I like. It's ok, I am not ashamed of it. I know there are songs released since 2000 that are great as well. But it's harder to crack the "favorites" list, the older I get. I think it's that connection with the past I mentioned earlier that is the main reason for this. 

In one way or another these 10 albums have a personal impact on me. Your list would be much different I am sure. It's not about the best, it's about what's important to you. I have a few honorable mentions I will list here to start, then it's on to my top ten with a little bit about each one. Enjoy, scratch your eyes out, listen to music that makes your ears bleed, I don't care. This was fun to write, and even more fun to stroll through time.

Honorable Mentions
Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet (1986)
Chicago - Greatest Hits 1982-1989 (1989)
Toad The Wet Sprocket - Fear (1991)
Sarah McLachlan - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (1993)
Hootie And The Blowfish - Cracked Rear View (1994)
Freddy Jones Band - North Ave. Wake Up Call (1995)
Indigo Girls - 1200 Curfews (1995)
John Mayer - Room For Squares (2001)
Mumford And Sons - Sigh No More (2010)
Adele - 21 (2011)

Feel free to add anything in the comments. Part 2 is up. Here's 10 through 6.


10. Tesla - Five Man Acoustical Jam (1990)

There is no huge basis for this here. It beat out the honorable mentions only because of how it makes me feel to jam to this.  This is an album you can put on and just let it out. My sister originally had this album, I have no idea why, and I eventually took it over. I love that it opens with the Grateful Dead song "Truckin" and moves seamlessly on to some of their own before covering the Beatles' "We Can Work It Out". The "Signs" smack dab in the middle of the album is not only a great nod to the Five Man Electrical Band, it's the best Tesla sounds on that night. Personally, I love the "Paradise" and "Love Song" that take me back to awkward make out sessions in the basement. I have never owned any other Tesla album, and I never will. But Five Man Acoustical Jam will always be on my playlist.



9. The Samples - Transmissions From The Sea of Tranquility (1997)

I graduated from high school in 1997. One of the biggest influences on my music listening was my buddy Brad. A lot of this list can be derived from music that he and I listened to while growing up. The Samples are a band from Colorado that played the college scene. So having them as one of my favorite secrets as a kid in suburban Chicago was cool. I had listened to No Room, Underwater People, The Last drag, and Autopilot. This was like the best of all of them wrapped in one. "Did You Ever Look So Nice" was the best I had ever heard that song. This album had sort of a spacey flow to it. More like a smoke a joint in the afternoon and drift away than anything else. It's a fun album to get lost in. I still listen to it from time to time.



8. Pink Floyd - The Wall (1979)

This is probably the most famous of all the albums I list here. But it had an impact. When I was a dour 15 year old, this was medicine. Being angry for no reason with a cloud of smoke overhead felt like this record. But it wasn't just the dark and coldness of this, it was a story. What a story as well, yes they made it into a movie, but the images in your head are so much better sometimes. Listening to this album in the dark in an altered state of mind is a must do for any stoner, ever. You ride the emotions throughout. To feeling like you are actually walking on ice in "The Thin Ice", to a man screaming out in pain in "Mother". The first act comes to close after building to a crescendo with "Another Brick In The Wall, Part 3" and fading to black with "Goodbye Cruel World".

The second act starts with us being lost and reaching out to anyone in "Hey You" and continuing until "Comfortably Numb" makes us think hope is lost. But then one final resurgence with "In The Flesh" and "Run Like Hell" before it all comes crashing down and we are exposed forever in "The Trial". By the end you are "Outside The Wall" and perfectly ok with it. The Wall is timeless, a great album for reasons much more than music.


7. Phish - A Live One (1995)

Phish is one of the ultimate jam bands of all time.  I didn't really get in to them until 1995. My sister was dating a guy that loved Phish. All I ever heard was that Phish shows were fantastic. Well being a 16 year old kid buying my first Phish album, I didn't know what I was doing. They are fantastic live, there's no doubt about it. I have seen Phish multiple times and have had many better shows on tape or CD. A Live One isn't even one show, it's pulled from a few. But this was my first Phish album. The "Chalkdust Torture" will never sound better, "Gumbo" will never be sweeter, and this will be my favorite "You Enjoy Myself" of all time. That boyfriend of my sister's had a window sticker that said "Won't you step into the freezer?", I never understood until I listened to "Tweezer". Page playing the piano to end "The Squirming Coil" was perfect. I don't think loving Phish will ever go away.



6. Counting Crows - August and Everything After (1993)

This coulda cracked my top 5. This should have cracked the top 5. Why the hell isn't this in the top 5? I don't know. "Round Here" has to be one of the greatest was to ever start an album. Just the slow intro to the band is fantastic. What a great song. This came out when I was just entering high school. It felt like Counting Crows was starting out, I was starting out. The just rainy, gray overtones on so many songs seemed to sum up how it felt to find your own way. "Mr. Jones" is fun but the meat of the record is "Anna Begins", "Time and Time Again", and "Rain King". It's a 3 song arc that shows how versatile they can be. Adam Duritz may sound like he's whining all the time, but he picks it up nicely at the end with "A Murder of One". They have to pick it up because "Raining In Baltimore" rips your heart out just one song earlier. This album will always be in my collection.

Next time out, part 2. I'll do my top 5 and try to improve my skills before then. If you've hung around this long, thanks. Go check out some of these albums.

For Part 2 click here

Eric Nathanson

@2outhits