The Album That Changed Everything feature in Songwriting Magazine Summer 2019

The Album That Changed Everything (Summer 2019)

Some of our favourite past Songwriting interviewees reveal the seminal albums that have inspired them the most over the years


ED KOWALCZYK (LIVE)

R.E.M.
Lifes Rich Pageant (I.R.S. 1986)

“A huge record for me, coming up through high school and being 15, was Lifes Rich Pageant by R.E.M. I just remember being blown away by the melodic originality of it and how intense it was. I’d never heard melodies like that before. I was so interested in the lyrics but I couldn’t really understand what Michael was saying. I remember being completely immersed in that record for at least a year as we were becoming our own band and learning to write songs. That
was a watershed for me as a young man.”

P.P. ARNOLD

Aretha Franklin
I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You (Atlantic, 1967)

“When that album [came out] I was in England, doing my own thing but I used to sing all of Aretha’s songs. She had a big impact on my life, from the beginning. She inspired me from when I was a little girl, singing in church. I was just a big fan, like everybody. Respect was a huge song, but there was also I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) and Do Right Woman, Do Right Man… Those two albums – I Never Loved A Man… and Aretha Now – were a big, big influence.”

BEN OTTEWELL (GOMEZ)

Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin III (Atlantic, 1970)

“I was a bit of a rock kid when I was 13 and started to play guitar. Led Zeppelin III really opened my mind, the way Jimmy Page arranges guitars – the electric and acoustic parts – and it opened my eyes to dynamics. It had that mixture of folk and rock, with those massive moments and then some interesting arrangements behind them. I got into playing slide guitar off the back of that. It didn’t get lyrically, but there were dynamics in Plant’s voice. I don’t think it’s their strongest record, but I found it very interesting”

KIEFER SUTHERLAND

Elton John
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (MCA/DJM, 1973)

“I was really young when I listened to this, about seven, and it was Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Elton’s melody as a musician and as a singer, combined with Bernie Taupin’s lyrics; to be only seven and feel like you understood those songs is a huge testament to their storytelling ability. The melodies that Elton John was coming up with were so catchy and singable that here I was listening to what I knew to be an adult’s record, because my brother was listening to it. At seven that made me feel special and smart.”

ROB THOMAS (MATCHBOX TWENTY)

Willie Nelson
Greatest Hits (& Some That Will Be) (Columbia, 1981)

“I would’ve been living in Florida in at least seventh or eighth grade. It was the first album I ever got and I sat listening to it over and over and over, staring at it like it was going to do something! It was just these beautiful melodies with simple songs, and he was telling these stories. I think Willie Nelson and country singers like Waylon Jennings wrote beautiful songs about hard moments. I always feel that Willie Nelson, Phil Collins, The Cure, George Michael and Elton John, all informed whatever it is I am now!”

STEVE CRADOCK (OCEAN COLOUR SCENE)

Marvin Gaye
What’s Going On (Tamla, 1971)

“I can’t remember where I was when I first heard [the album]; I knew it as a single at the time. But, as a complete piece of work, I think it’s genius. It’s weird to learn that it had been shelved by Berry Gordy for a year and a half because it was too political. I think James Jamerson’s bass playing is just incredible, and I read that he’d said how he looks at a flower blowing in the wind and he’ll try to play like that. I just thought that’s a beautiful way of describing the way a great player would play.”

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