I came into this one a bit later. I vaguely remember the album Mezzanine in college, back when that Bristol trip-hop thing was going on, but I never really paid much attention to it. I seem to recall Portishead getting the majority of the airplay from that genre among my peers at the time. At any rate, some time in 2001 or 2002, in the heyday of Napster or Limewire – I can’t remember which, I was trying to fill in some musical gaps, and “Teardrop” was on my list. I haven’t the faintest clue as to how it ended up there, as it wasn’t through any of my friends. But that moment I first heard it – I was enraptured. The song and Beth’s voice cocooned me. Such a simple melody and chord progression, but hauntingly executed, with so much atmosphere. Shivers.
I would agree with Royals, except that I heard Team first, and I think that was even more groundbreaking.
Other contenders: Destiny’s Child Jumpin Jumpin has a wonderful layered sound to it that really struck me as ‘there’s nothing else like this’ when I first heard it. Cake - The Distance. Talking Heads - Once In a Lifetime (in no particular chronological order, obvs)
Am I really the first person to mention “American Pie”? I guess it’s a measure of its impact on me that I kind of assume that it strikes everyone like a thunderbolt. I have such a vivid memory of the first time I heard it.
I also vividly remember the first time I heard Barry Manilow’s “Mandy”. I was at a friend’s house, and I wrote the lyrics down on a slip of paper and held it against the handlebars as I rode my bike home so that I could sing it over and over again to learn the words.
It’s really the entire Tommy album, but I suppose as one song it’s Pinball Wizard. That may not be the best song in Tommy but it was pretty impressive to a 14 year old boy.
I can honestly say I’ve never heard her being called Beth before, it took me a moment. AFAIK she’s always gone by Liz.
I remember going out and buying that Mekons single - still have it somewhere
Re Magnificent: it didn’t change my life, but it was nice. I liked it; would listen again.
My introduction to Baba O’Reilly… end of my junior year in high school one of my classmates was throwing a party at his house. I went with a couple other guys from school and one of them broke out a joint which we smoked before going to the party. It was apparently laced with something which I have never figured out what it was, but it pretty much turned me into a zombie for the rest of the evening. Everything felt swirly and disconnected and in slow motion. When we got to the party I found a chair near the stereo, plopped down, and closed my eyes. At some point Baba O’Reilly started and that intro just seemed to go on for-freaking-EVER as I sat there soaking it in.
Ramones ‘Teenage Lobotomy’.
3 minutes long and 90 miles and hour burst of B12.
First real punk music I ever heard.
I’m going to go with Paul Simon’s “Graceland”. I was already a Simon fan, but this tune (well, album) felt so fresh and groundbreaking.
My only record store impulse purchase based on what was spinning at the time was Springsteen’s Pete Seeger tribute LP. The song was “O Mary Don’t You Weep”. I didn’t even know it was Springsteen, but I did know that I had to own in immediately. I abruptly stopped my browsing session, made the purchase, and cranked it up to eleven all the way home.
Wish You Were Here Pink Floyd
I’ve never been much of a Pink Floyd fan. I didn’t hear this song until I attended a friend’s funeral. The powerful lyrics knocked me over. It was very cathartic.
Some Nights by Fun
Those harmonies, though…
Nice! And welcome. I’m a relative newbie myself.
And I too like classical. Not many here seem to be bringing it up though.
What song hit me like a thunderbolt…well, I’m kind of “slow” when it comes to music appreciation. I tend to be struck by a piece of music at some point when I finally “get” it and can respond emotionally the way it was intended. Stuff by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Debussy, Mahler and of course Wagner can hit me just right, when I’m in the right mood. Which is not a daily occurrence for me.
I like it. The opening bars sounded a lot like Phillip Glass, pretty obvious who he was influenced by.
Too many to mention here, but:
Jethro Tull - Grace
Wait, what? That was it? So beautiful and so short! The haiku of music!
Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Toccata
Sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before. Or after.
Tim Hecker - Song of the Highwire Shrimper
I’ve never been into post 70’s electronic music, but this guy somehow manages to be digital and glitchy while being melancholic at the same time.
Hah. Neither have I. I have no idea why I referred to her as such.
Maybe you mixed her up with Beth Gibbons?
Firestarter by The Prodigy just blew me away when I first heard it. This angry fusion of British punk-rock, electronic big beat, and industrial metal that just made you grit your teeth, ball your fists, and bob along just had me moving.
I had a similar reaction to Firestarter. Saw them live on a bill with Rage Against The Machine and David Bowie in 97, and it was my most exhausting concert. Danced myself almost to the ground.