My earliest favorite album was Steve Vai's Alien Love Secrets. This was before I was even in elementary school, which clearly explains why my favorite song off of ALS was "Ya Yo Gak," which was a song built around Vai's son speaking baby nonsense. Perhaps it was hearing a kid like me sing on a real rock cd instead of some Raffi tape offered my little mind a glimpse of the excitement of playing music. Every time I listen to this album, I can remember first learning to air guitar to "Bad Horsie," and that's an important development for a young one.
Quite a bit later, in high school, I had begun to get past the long stretches populated only by Weird Al parodies when my dad brought along a few albums to listen to while he taught me how to drive. Now, we'd had Deep Purple's Machine Head since I was a little kid, but it took on a completely new dimension when I was actually speeding around an empty parking lot to "Highway Star." The rest of that album is classic, but that song is synonymous to me with experiencing firsthand the excitement of driving. It helps that I was learning on a rented mustang, too. And imagine my delight upon hearing that song first thing every time I turned on the first Rock Band.
The other album my dad took along that night was Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO! This album was strange and hilarious to me, and while "Uncontrollable Urge" contributed to the speed freak urge that I (like all new drivers) had, it was "Mongoloid" that I remember finally mastering the stick shift to. The strangeness of that album stuck with me and I remember recommending it to all of my friends, none of which listened to the copy I offered to lend them. Jerks.
I moved later on high school, and had a tough time fitting in. The first thing I did in the city I moved to was get a library card and check out a few cds, Beck's Guero being notable among them as the one I'd listen to almost every day. On the way to school, I'd listen to the first half of the cd- the poppy, happy, single side with "E-Pro" and "Girl" on it to try and get me excited for the possibilities of a new school. After a long, lonely day, I'd walk home and listen to the second half, populated by sadder songs like "Missing" and "Earthquake Weather." By the time I got home, the songs had returned to hopeful territory like "Scarecrow" and "Rental Car" and I was already feeling a little better about myself. That album got me through those tough first few weeks of a new school and it'll always remind me of that difficulty.
I had at least three other albums I wanted to talk about, but holy Life-Story, Batman. I think I went a little overboard.