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The Records That Changed My Life

“I know all the ‘classic’ records that people are supposed to list,” Ryan Adams says. “I mean, I love Blonde on Blonde.But these records are the ones from throughout my life that I reallywould take to a desert island–although I might trade them in for alighter or a raft.” Recuperating from the broken wrist he sufferedduring a January concert, the roots-rock tune machine listed a fewpersonal faves from his misspent North Carolina youth.

45 GRAVE AUTOPSY (Restless, 1987)“This is a record I got when I visited my uncle in Arlington, Virginia.He worked for a company connected to NASA, which I thought was cool,because I was super into astronomy. I knew 45 Grave had some connectionto the Germs and Gun Club. The cover looked kinda goth, so I took ithome, and it was so fucking good. I lived in a small town with no girlsto date or people to impress. It was just me and my record player.”

THELEAVING TRAINS FUCK (SST, 1987)“When I gotto Chapel Hill, even though I was too young to be part of a scene or goto shows–I was 13 or 14–I was old enough to skateboard across town,through a rough area, to where the pawn shops were. I would have fiveor ten bucks and peruse the pawn shops for one- or two-dollar cassettetapes. By the time I got Fuck,I had met someone who helped me tune my guitar. I learned some chords,and realized I was writing stuff that sounded like the Leaving Trains.So I think it’s really influenced my songwriting, to this day.”

GALAXIE 500 ON FIRE (Rough Trade, 1989) “Afriend of mine had a car, and we were driving to school, wondering ifwe should go. School passed by and we said, ‘Fuck it.’ We went to thisplace called Schoolkids Records in Chapel Hill. I read a review ofGalaxie 500 that described them as ‘psychedelic, slow, and woozy.’ Ibought this tape and we played it on the drive back. I kept thinking,’There must be a fast song coming up.’ It was hot, there was no AC, andboth of us nearly fell asleep and crashed the car.”

CIRCLE JERKS VI (Relativity, 1987)“It’s kindof totally not correct to list this, but this is a record that wasreally aware of itself and really rocked. ‘I’m Alive’ was a real anthemfor me. This was the summer of ‘I can play guitar, I’m skating, but I’mliving at home and I wish I could move.'”

GREG SAGE STRAIGHT AHEAD (Enigma, 1985)“I heard Straight Aheadshortly after I moved to Raleigh. I asked my roommate, ‘Dude, have youheard of this guy Greg Sage?’ and he said, ‘Dude, that’s the guy fromthe Wipers.’ This is the most depressing record ever. It starts outlike, ‘Keep moving forward,’ but it ends up being a loner’smasterpiece. I put it on before a show we played in upstate New York.By the time it was over, everyone was depressed and not talking to eachother.”

DANZIG DANZIG (Def American/Geffen, 1988) “Iloved Samhain [ex-Misfit Glenn Danzig’s previous band], but this wasabsurdly good. It was really defining for me. This was when I went outand became a fake punk in North Carolina. I had a prevarication [sic]for witchy stuff. I think there’s some sort of power in that imagerywhen you’re younger. I also remember this cassette smelled reallygood.”

THE REIVERS TRANSLATE SLOWLY (DB, 1985) “Iloved this record so much. There was a soft edge to some of theunderground bands from this period, like the Reivers and Salem 66. Ihad so many ‘Japan-core’ compilations that I needed something to chillout with. This record really influenced my guitar playing. I realizedit was okay to hang out on some major chords for a while.”

ANTIETAM BURGOO (Triple X, 1990) “This record alsohad a lot to do with how I wanted to play guitar. It’s all so pretty,especially ‘Imagining Green.’ Tara Key is phenomenal. Her songs woulddescribe New York, and I would dream about what they meant.”

POLVO CELEBRATE THE NEW DARK AGE EP (Merge, 1994)“This was originally a triple seven-inch. Their first record was good,but this was better, because it was so scrappy. People said Polvosounded like Sonic Youth, but I always thought they had their own thinggoing on. This was like music from a cartoon.”

JONES VERY WORDS AND DAYS (Roadrunner, 1989)“Imust’ve owned eight copies of this. The best description is that itsounds like the Police because it has these atmospheric parts, andHüsker Dü because it has that kind of lost American sound.”