It’s day 5 of ‘James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Albums That He Liked To Listen To When He Was Younger’ and it’s time to address the elephant in the room.
Which is that in last year’s A-Z I had a distinctly British bias and managed to overlook most of the great US bands of the 90s, many of whom were stalwarts of my CD collection. Indeed, only Weezer and Green Day made the cut last year, and the latter only because I decided to cheat on ‘D’ and include 3 albums. I’ve already managed to ignore Green Day this year, which is almost unforgiveable, given that American Idiot is arguably one of the better rock albums of the 00s and I opted, instead, to go for one of Radiohead’s less beloved releases for ‘A’. But fear not, my American friends, for I am about to redress the balance. It will, no doubt, still be mostly British acts featured in the rest of this A-Z, but when it came to a noughties music retrospective, there were some US albums I could not ignore.
Which brings us to today’s entry.
E is for Elephant
I’m not sure at what point in my life I stopped listening to cassettes. I have a feeling it may well have been the late 90s, but it is possible that my Walkman survived into the first couple of years of the 21st century. What I do know is that I never succumbed to the charms of the Discman and it wasn’t until the middle of the decade that I purchased my first (very cheap) MP3 player. I didn’t get an iPod until iPods were very close to no longer being a thing, although that iPod saw me through much of the 2010s and allowed me to avoid the inevitable acquisition of a smartphone, which is now, as for many people, the main way I listen to music.
But there was definitely a period of time when I didn’t have the capacity to listen to music ‘on the go’ and this coincided with a time when I was living in Paris. Not only did I have to travel around on public transport a lot in that fair city, but I also made intermittent trips back home to Wales to see my family. Paris to Cardiff is quite a long journey. It helps to have the capacity to listen to music on such voyages.
For reasons I won’t go into here, I did acquire a minidisc player. I didn’t buy it but it did find its way into my possession through entirely legal means. I’m not sure such devices ever really took the world by storm but they were almost a ‘thing’ back in the early noughties. The trouble with minidisc players, though, was that they didn’t play CDs. I had a lot of CDs. What I didn’t possess too many of were minidiscs.
But a friend of mine did have the capacity to copy CDs onto minidiscs. So he copied me a couple of albums that I didn’t already own. Literally a couple. So for the best part of a year, until I finally realised that I did need to get an MP3 player, I listened to those two albums over and over again whenever I travelled anywhere.
One of those albums was Elephant by The White Stripes. It is, fortunately, a very good album. Arguably one of the best albums of the entire decade.
The other album was pretty good too. It will pop up when we get to ‘I’.
But today we’re still on ‘E’. So let us now address the Elephant in the room. And one of the great rock songs of all time, in Seven Nation Army.