Music, movies, books that completely changed your focus and interests...

What are the music, movies, books that ended your search for the ‘holy grail’ of the genre?

An impossible feat? I thought so until I found mine. I still watch other movies, listen to other music, read other books, but I’m no longer nagged by the thought there must be something more I’m missing.

I’ve written about this elsewhere, the first time I really listened to by brother’s copy of Fresh Cream in the mid-70’s, it changed my view of music completely. I heard the Cream classics like White Room and Sunshine of Your Love on the radio in the late 60’s and didn’t give it a second thought. I also heard my brother playing Fresh Cream before and remember telling my Dad it was just loud noise. But for some reason, that one day in the 70’s, when I played it myself, it took ahold of me like nothing else. It led me to a journey into Clapton’s roots with the Yardbirds and John Mayall’s bluebreakers and even further back into big band jazz and the blues. And it was only a few years ago, when I found a bunch of Cream bootlegs, I realized that this was truly what I was searching nearly 40 years for. As a vintage record store owner told me in the late 80’s, that when he saw Cream playing live, and they started jamming he’d head outside for a smoke and a beer because “They were just playing for themselves.” What greater complement could you give to three perfectionist artists who loved each other on stage and hated each other off!

For movies, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai will always be my No. 1 desert island movie, Tsui Hark’s A Chinese Ghost Story trilogy and John Woo’s The Killer would fill spots No. 2-5. In the 70’s and 80’s I was constantly searching for the perfect horror movie, but could never find it. In the late 80’s I was lead to Chinese movies because of the gore movie phase I was going through then. Then finally in 1992 (6 years after it was released), I saw A Chinese Ghost Story. Not only did I fall completely in love with Joey Wang Tsu Hsien / Wong Jyo Yin again (I first fell in love with her the previous year, when I saw a few clips from the movie), but this was the ultimate horror movie I was searching for, for decades. Horror, fantasy, romance, perfection.

In 1992, I got Terminator 2: Judgement Day on Laserdisc and would watch the mini-gun scene over and over again. Then later in 1992 or early 1993, I watched John Woo’s The Killer for the first time and I never watched Terminator 2 or viewed any Western action movie more than once again. Arnold was awesome as “The Terminator”, but he wouldn’t stand a chance against Chow Yun Fat’s “Ah Jong”/“Numb-nuts”. I’m convinced that beneath the gray-haired, mellow faced exterior that Chow has now, there still exists one more over the top gunfest movie in his veins.

Books, there’s Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 with it’s big brother / technology themes (despite what Bradbury says he really meant when writing the novel) is a forewarning of a possible future and Arthur C. Clarke’s *2001: A Space Odyssey[i/] is a fantastic story of something that never was or will be. For a few years after, I continued reading various novels and other fiction books for a few years after, including Bradbury’s other works, mostly short stories and Clarke’s 2010: Odyssey Two, but have long switched to non-fiction works, especially on the internet.

The Doors. I discovered them in middle school, and it fed my already rebellious side with some more fuel. In high school, I got into movies, “The Godfather” and “On The Waterfront” and Marlon Brando in general had me starting to study movies, and to constantly try to find that soul nutrition.

Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. I discovered the whole 1950’s beat culture, which got way eclipsed by the 1960’s rock culture.

My high school had a full-blown planetarium. My sophomore through senior years, I had a “class” in the planetarium. Classes from other schools, of all ages, would visit on field trips to see shows we put on. Each period there were two of us students, who assisted the director (“teacher”) in running the shows. On days we didn’t have a show, we would do maintenance, work on new shows, or whatever. The teacher would let us put whatever music we wanted on the awesome sound system.

At the time I was into the hard rock music of the day - Ozzy, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Zeppelin, and so on. One day during my sophomore year, in late '85 or early '86, my classmate put on Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood. I was familiar with “Kayleigh” because it was a minor radio hit, but I knew nothing about the band. I was blown away by what I heard. I immediately decided I wanted to hear more music like that.

And so began my lifelong love of progressive rock. I went out and bought the rest of Marillion’s albums, and started getting into early Genesis and Yes. Which led me to lesser-known stuff like King Crimson and Camel, which in turn led me to even more obscure stuff that most people have never heard of. By the time I was in my late 20s I’d built a collection of around 1500 CDs, probably more than 90% of it prog.

Dave Brubeck. It was my first listen to jazz and his stuff was mesmerizing to me. I still consider the Carnegie Hall album to be one of the best albums ever made.

Getz/Gilberto: My first acquaintance with Brazilian music and bossa nova. Still one of the best albums in the genre, along with Sergio Mendes’ Brasileiro.

Ali Farka Toure: My first exposure to West African music. Beautiful stuff, and his work with Ry Cooder on Talking Timbuktu was amazing.

Mort Sahl’s auto-biography “Heartland” made me want to find out more about him.

In early 1983, I purchased R.E.M.'s debut EP “Chronic Town” because it was highly recommended to me, and those five songs totally blew me away. My college dormmate hated it and kept telling me that it would probably be their only release, to which I reluctantly agreed, until I learned about their first full-length album “Murmur.” That’s when I knew they would someday be huge, and I was right.

Those albums STILL blow me away to this day.

I discovered Jobim in high school. Saw Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 in person in that year. Bought all of their albums. I practically wore them out, but now I listen on my Echo. :slight_smile: The whole Brazilian, bossa nova, samba sound is still what I love to listen to the most.