Hey Mrs. DJ – Put The Record On (My Life With Music)
If you’re waiting for part II of Destination Vogue (On the Bad Side of Hollywood) stay tuned, is coming right up next. To enjoy Part I click here: Destination Vogue
If you know me a little, you should know that my life has always been a dangerous roller coaster of extremes. All the things I did, and all the diseases I have chosen only had one goal: getting through the day and survive my brain. (The word disease is just a more scientific synonymous for BULLSHIT)
By growing up I have learned how to cope with it and how to create something out of the mess within the confines of my head, and when it comes to music things have been no different: a beautiful chaos of unconventional contrasts that inked my own very personal soundtrack over the years.
At 16 I wanted to be a soprano in the local church choir (yeah, Like a Bird on the Wire, but I am serious!), and I remember trying to imitate my grandfather’s baritone voice (until he pointed out I was a young woman, and I wasn’t supposed to sing like a man!)
He was my hero. The best operatic baritone in the world to me, the one that made me feel unique, his princess, by singing Shubert’s Ave Maria for my First Communion, when I was 10. I was special at his eyes and I guess I must thank him, not only for my culture and knowledge of music, but also for the passionate and deep love for it, the only one that never faded away, no matter how hard I craved the eternal silence.
London came next, at 19. I moved there from Italy one week after my graduation from high school, and exactly the day after my grandmother’s death. It was July 30th 2001. In tears and pain I was running to the royal land to forget my first heroin-love (and first everything) and to bury the death of the woman that was like a mother to me.
Of course it didn’t work, but the rainy Queen of the kingdom was my school of life, the key that opened my mind to what was possible outside the known boundaries of the small town where I was born, up in the north west of the Italian Alps.
Many things I sold in desperate need for money over the years, but never my music (or my books).
That’s why I share with you my best, of all time (and I will also tell you why for each and every album).
P.S. If you want to actually listen to ‘my music’ – DON’T be a pirate! There are plenty of ways to legally enjoy art for free (Spotify and Pandora are two smart tools!)
This list is completely random (it was already tough to pick 11 out of a million).
1. “Songs of Love and Hate”, Leonard Cohen – Needless to say it was hard to pick my favorite Cohen’s album, but I can’t end my day without hearing Avalanche or Dress Rehearsal Rag, Last Year’s Man or Famous Blue Raincoat; I hate having to choose a favorite song of his, because I would write an entire blog on this little Jew who wrote the Bible. Leonard makes me want to write, and he doesn’t want me to stop. Just the way I like it. If another 12-steps fellowship had to be created, I’d be an honorary member of the LC Anonymous.
2. Automatic For The People – R.E.M – Probably the best R.E.M.’s album ever. It’s dark and mournful, from Drive to Everybody Hurts and Monty Got a Raw Deal; this is an absolute masterpiece from the 90s. It’s the perfect soundtrack for my journey into those deadly memories that changed and shaped my life forever. Automatic for the People is one of those albums that keep me grounded and remind me where I come from and what my nature is. The Hollywood sparkle doesn’t affect me when Stipe’s naked voice whispers in my ear.
3. Ascenseur de la Chaffeud – Miles Davis – This was a late discovery for me and it’s one of those albums (6 different takes of the same piece) that it’s so hypnotic to drag me to another place. When it’s on it doesn’t stop and I can do everything with it, from writing to having sex, from sleeping to masturbating my brain with my favorite obsessions. It’s addictive and mysterious, elegant and classy, smoky and penetrating. Definitely a MUST that anyone should have at home, to bring back to the surface that swampy and dark part of the brain that is (too) often anesthetized by the human condition we have to wear every day.
4. In Utero – Nirvana – Kurt Cobain was my first teenage crush and Pennyroyal Tea will always remain my dirty little secret. An album that was originally entitled I Hate Myself and I Want to Die should be in every Top10, especially if it’s the last of one of the best artists that ever touched this planet. Heart Shaped Box and Serve the Servants are dangerous and make me want to go back in space and time where I shouldn’t want to be. And that’s why I need it: to taste ‘it‘. In Utero makes you feel a raw artist in old jeans and messed up hair, with a burnt T-shirt and old blue Dr. Martens.
5. Blue Valentine – Tom Waits – The one man that can make words from a hooker sound like a love letter. Romantic and dirty, a Chicago state of mind with a bit of New York in it. Smooth and warm, Christmas and whiskey. Mr. Waits reaches the top and makes you want to go to Minneapolis (even if the hooker you fell in love with won’t be there waiting for you in all her beauty for sale). Ten tracks to make love to your chosen one, or to warm your blood with fire in a much needed old-fashioned winter solitude.
6. Dirt – Alice in Chains – My dirty days wouldn’t be real without Layne and his excruciating self-loathing. His music is pure screaming, and his poetry is the authentic testament of an early death. How could we talk about music without Down in a Hole or Would? The 90s were the last decade of true art, and Alice in Chains was the living proof of it; perfect to write all night and feel it inside, great to cry and for an intimate toxic endless night with your wrong partner in crime.
7. Black Celebration – Depeche Mode – Absence of light doesn’t scare Dave Gahan & Co. and they prove it with an absolute masterpiece of sensual electronic dark sound. They are truly stripped and on the edge, bending over the bottom as much as they can, but still hanging in there, waiting to be restored to some kind of sanity. With this album you follow them into the dark hole of the toxic and extremes of the 80s.
8. Aenima – Tool- An entire book could be written on this album in which knowledge meets pure artistic madness and genius. This is the proof Maynard’s not completely human but something beyond the confine of the average mind. A writer should know how to properly use words, but in this case they would only trivialize perfection. Listen to Ænima in the dark of your bedroom or while driving far away from LA. You will understand.
9. The Bends – Radiohead – I thought about choosing this album just because of Street Spirit, but then I have listened to it again, and I have realized that, for as much as many songs that I love by Radiohead are not in here, this work makes a difference; the experimental and abrasive sound is fluid and not too wrought out (only apparently of course). York’s voice is flawless in its acoustic imperfection, and its electronic garments make it just ‘that something that you never heard before‘. The ideal notes to experiment how far your imagination can go, with no drugs into your blood.
10. With Teeth – Nine Inch Nails – Every Day is Exactly the Same, Right Where it Belongs, The Hand that Feeds. I should stop here but I can’t because this album is one of my favourite of all times. It makes me wet and desperate, suicidal and high. Reznor did it again in 1995 and he inks his rage on your beaten and livid naked body. The beat makes you want to come right away, while his words bring you back to the primal source of pain, your brain. Dance with it and sweat it all out, you’ll feel sexy and lost, the qeen of distruction and a lovely doll with golden electronic lips.
11. A Love Supreme – John Coltrane – To me, HE is Jazz. Coltrane makes me feel a real woman, with cigarette and red lipstick. A Love Supreme was the first jazz album I ever bought and I instantly fell in love with it. You don’t understand jazz; you feel it under your skin, itching to be taken by its mathematical and surreal loop. With A Love Supreme I let my brain go and I create. I become a better artist by osmosis (it isn’t true, it doesn’t work that way, but I can feel the power of the undisputed wild genius becoming one thing with my mediocre DNA).
Sweaty nights go by fast, the window is open and you can see my naked lines; I surrender when jazz is playing, just like New Orleans, in 1964.