Last week, as your finger scrolled down your phone, you saw the posts. You dodged the urge at first, but then many of you gave your contribution. You chimed in with your two cents and fell right in line. Is it an internet test by some college kids working on a major project or just a question to a friend that got loose online and strangled Facebook for a while.
“What were the top 10 albums that had the most impact on you as a teenager...”
A lot of you did it, and that’s okay. I’m not here to go after people for having some fun. It was interesting seeing some of the lists though, and wow, the sophisticated/early developed tastes of thirteen-year-olds just aren’t the same these days! So many people knew so many cool bands when their voices were barely cracking. Yaz, Dr. Know, Warren Zevon, Venom, Ultravox and Baron von Tollbooth & the Chrome Nun?! Amazing! (insert tiny sarcastic smirk)
Each time I jumped onto Facebook the past two weeks, this thing shouted back at me to take part. The comment from just about every other person before they laid out their list, “Ok, I guess I’ll take a shot since everyone else is...” got tired fast, but I wondered if I should heed the call this time. It is a music-related list and I’m into music just a bit. I had a bunch of people ask me to do it. These lists are kinda fun and I always love the memories that come with compiling them. They always open up great dialogue with other music fans as well. So, why not take part?
Well friends, it’s a bit of a problem I’ve found in life. I’ve dealt with this concern for more years than my head will allow me to remember. You say, “Mark, give me your top 5 ...” whatever bands. I end up giving you 10. “Mark, “what’s your top 10 favorite ...” whatevers. I give 15 or 20. Bottom line, I can not meet the numerical specifications that these friggin’ lists demand. I’m sorry.
Not really though.
To the average folk, it’s an elevator topic. Lobby to the fifth floor and can they fire off their top 10 albums ever and still have time to talk about the meeting they’re headed into. Me? I’d have a hard time riding a slow lift at one of those the skyrocketing hotels in Dubai to come up with my first four. This is serious stuff.
To ask people who live a life of music to just quickly whip up something that essentially defines them ... well, it's a harsh request. We cringe at being held to our picks. When we do these lists we instantly retract when we hit the post button or when we riffle them off verbally to friends; “Oh crap, I forgot this one”, or that one. That misplayed forgotten component could totally mess up a music lover’s mind for like a whole 10-to-15 minutes, people! That’s a brutal mental burden. Trust me, it’s not fun to deal with that mishap on your mind when you take lists seriously. You say to yourself, “How the hell could I forget Bobby Keys is one of my favorite sax players of all time! I need to add him in there!” Unfortunately, that conversation is done and everyone has gone home. You’re then in your car listening to Bobby blow on the Stones’ Sticky Fingers album and you hate yourself just a little bit. You try to live with that forgetfulness and hope people don’t judge you by the absence in the picks you made, but all you can do is hope.
It’s odd because I can pick some top single picks. I know my all time favorite band, my favorite album, my favorite song, my favorite album cover ... but after that, it's a neverending story. Ask me for my top 10 favorite songs of all time and after I rapid fire spit out the top one — “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty — chances are I’ll name 20 songs. Then add three or four more. How’s that for your top 10 list!?
Do I feel bad? Am I sorry I couldn’t fit my choice count into the foolish structure laid upon me? Not one bit! Who came up with “top 10” anyways? The bastards! Who thought asking for a “top 5” would be enough? We’re talking about music here! I can’t be limited!
And in the long run, don’t you want to see someone’s choices? Whether it’s 10 or 12 picks? Those picks explain something. They give you a bonus peek at a person. Those extra picks are as much of that person as their 10. Editing down for the sake of someone’s evil limitations is not something I subscribe to folks. You wanna hang with me, you get the entire best list! The Top 10 and then some.
In the end, we extend our numbers because we care! We don’t want to leave out someone or something we believe in or enjoy. Check out the top 10 list of a person who isn’t really, really that into music. The part-time fans. You’re getting a solid 10 there, and that’s all folks. For people who are truly passionate about music, we’re the ones to break the boundaries because we love our favorite bands and songs so much. We add those others on top of the 10 because we care! Showing some extra love and support for the things we care about isn’t such a bad thing is it? In this life on planet Earth in 2017, showing passion for the things we love isn’t really a major concern, is it?
So do what I do. Never acknowledge a number restriction with these lists. When someone says to choose your top 10 favorite albums, you just give them your favorite albums, however many that is! If it’s 11, so be it. If it’s 15, well alright then! If it’s 114 ... well, I mean, there should be some limits right?