OMG Zeppelin Yes.
If you only listen to one song: "Prologue, August 29, 1968" and "Someday (August 29, 1968)", Chicago
The history in the music
The Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago
One of the things I continue to love about this project are the moments when the music illuminates the real world that the artists are actually walking through, day by day.
There's a point on The Chicago Transit Authority where a guy on a megaphone is giving instructions and then a group of people begin chanting "The whole world is watching". It felt very specific, for lack of a better word.
It's worth noting very little about this project feels particularly specific. With a few exceptions, the music all kinda sounds like the music before it, and it kinda sounds like the music of the time, and it kinda sounds like the music that's coming after it. That's not to say some music isn't objectively better than other music; it's just rare that anything ever sounds out of place.
The whole world is watching sounded out of place.
So the immediate question is: what in the world am I listening to, and why did the artist make this choice? Sometimes the answer is you're listening to Jimi Hendrix, and he made this choice because he's better than everyone else. In this case, it was a reference to, if not actual audio from, the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests.
That's very specific.
Now, in a flash, Chicago becomes my soundtrack as I work my way through so much history: the protests; the first Mayor Daley and the Chicago political machine; the red lining; the assassination of Dr. King; the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, which had sudden implications for that very convention.
All this stuff was happening while Chicago was still calling themselves Chicago Transit Authority and recording their first album. And, beyond Chicago, the rest of the music I'm listening to suddenly has a lot of heavy context: Nick Drake, Sly and the Family Stone, The Beach Boys, the end of the Beatles era, the beginning of Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, David Bowie...
Space Oddity, David Bowie
AND DID I MENTION WE PUT HUMANS ON THE MOON????
As I was listening to "Space Oddity" I realized that there was a lot of space talk that I hadn't noticed in prior music... probably because I was listening to David Bowie obsess about space in real time, because the world was actively working on putting people on the moon while he was working on the album.
I love this stuff.
Five Leaves Left, Nick Drake
Five Leaves Left is a totally pleasant album. I don't love it, but it's got a sound that's pretty unique for what I've heard of the era.
Tommy, The Who
What the heck is going on with Tommy??? I'd previously heard the pinball song, but I had no idea Tommy was such an intense album. I was listening to it at work and let me tell you... slowly realizing that Tommy is a kid with some disabilities who's being physically abused by the adults in his life is a bit much when it's Tuesday morning and you're just trying to work through some TPS reports.
Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin is real good. It's interesting to consider the line from The Beatles, through The Stones, and to Zeppelin. It's also fun to wonder what might have happened if Zeppelin had come first, and then the Stones got to follow whatever Led Zeppelin created, and The Beatles got to start innovating from where The Stones and Zeppelin left off.
Stand, Sly & The Family Stone
This album is just good, goofy, funky fun.
Beach Boys, 20/20
The Beach Boys continue to impress.
The current One Man Academy (OMA) project is listening to the Grammy's Album of the Year nominees and re-choosing winners, absent of historical context.
Spotify playlist for this post: OMAs: 1970 Revisited
The track "Prologue, August 29, 1968" which fades into "Someday (August 29, 1968)" ↩︎
Again, I wish I had a better word. ↩︎
I found a better (set of) word(s)! ↩︎
I guess that's an okay word after all. I'm sorry for doubting you, "specific". ↩︎
They changed their name because the Chicago Transit Authority is an actual thing in Chicago that operates buses and stuff. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_(band)#Chicago_Transit_Authority_and_early_success ↩︎