Whispertown: 5 Albums That Changed My Life

Whispertown: 5 Albums That Changed My Life

Whispertown (a.k.a. Morgan Meyn Nagler) is out with her record, I’m a Man, on September 1 (via Graveface Records). Before heading out on the road with M. Ward, she shared with TIDAL some records that changed her life.

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Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road

There is no other record that makes singing along feel this good. When you are listening to this album, you are in an old truck, windows down, stereo loud, headed nowhere… and happy. My first two bands were both very short-lived and around the exact same time. I don’t remember which came first… but at my first show I covered ‘Drunken Angel’ under either the moniker ‘Hot Wing’ or ‘Mucho.’ Lucinda Williams has the ideal voice to my ears… She can say so much regardless of the actual words. ‘Lake Charles’ is a masterpiece. Does this album exist on vinyl? If so, I can’t believe I don’t have it yet.

Daniel Johnston, Hi, How Are You

Soul speech. Direct from the heart without brain filter. As a writer, it’s my practice to continue striving toward removing the brain filter, which often acts only to see your work through other people’s eyes. The fear of judgment encourages this filter, however it’s the truly raw elements, unfiltered, that cut through and hit home for me. ‘Hey Joe’ is one of the first songs I learned on guitar. Unlike most covers, I feel so at home singing it. It’s strange that such a unique artist makes songs so relatable. This album cracked open worlds and alternate universes for me. Anything was possible. I hear he has announced this final tour this fall. Can’t wait to attend!

Elliott Smith, Either/Or

Elliott Smith, (along with Built to Spill and Modest Mouse simultaneously), was my gateway drug to indie rock. At the time, I mostly listened to music from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s… The only modern music I was really into was gangster rap. I couldn’t believe Either/Or was a modern album. I suddenly became aware of an entire solar system of modern bands that spoke my language… but at the same time spoke a foreign language I had never heard before. Instant love. Not a slow burn. Part of my DNA.

Hortense Ellis, Jamaica’s First Lady of Songs

Right about age 30, I was experiencing a dry spell for music listening when my roommate at the time (and still dear friend) Nick White started playing Hortense Ellis at the Shack, where we lived. Her voice is magical. It carries through walls, rides on breezes, and elevates moods. Also this album began a ’60s and ’70s reggae obsession that has yet to end. It brought me to Jamaica! Jake Bellows, who produced I’M A MAN, (and who also is my boyfriend), has been making our lives better and cooler by putting all kinds of reggae albums from this era on the turntable daily. Hortense’s brother, Alton Ellis, is equally as vibey. This tone has definitely seeped into our own music.

Dr. Dre, The Chronic

You asked for life-changing. In high school, this album was my shit. I knew every single word. My best friend Megan and I, who were both about five feet tall, would roll around in the front bench seat of her 1978 Jeep Wagoneer with fake wood side paneling. We took turns back and forth on our way to and from the Taco Bell parking lot. ‘No, I was Dre last time, so now I’m Snoop.”  *** Very Occasionally *** If I have just opened a third beer, and the moon is full, you can still catch me put my memory to the test on karaoke night at a dive bar near you. But my real karaoke jam is ‘Don’t Cry’ by Guns N’ Roses.

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