I recently read Pitchfork’s 5-10-15-20 feature with Descendants frontman Milo Aukerman. As part of the 5-10-15-20 series, artists talk about the music that made an impact on them throughout their lives, five years at a time. I got to thinking about this for myself, and since Pitchfork will never ask me, I thought I’d share my own.

5: Elvis Presley

Pretty much all of my early exposure to music was from riding in the car with my father. That involved a constant rotation classic country such as Conway Twitty and George Jones or oldies like Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. Most of all, it was Elvis, his favorite singer.

10: Guns N Roses – Use Your Illusion I & II

It was 1991, and I wish I could say I was listening to Nirvana’s Nevermind on repeat. Truth is, it was also the year that Terminator 2: Judgement Day was released, and that was a much bigger deal for 10-year-old me. I loved Guns N Roses, and I loved Arnold Schwarzenegger. All it took was “You Could Be Mine” being featured in T2. Illusion has a lot of slack over the two LPs, but there are some great songs. Unfortunately it hasn’t aged as well as T2.

15: Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

By the time I was 15, I was introduced to punk rock via Fugazi and Minor Threat, and my tastes and interests began moving in that direction. Yet the tense mix of angst of pop metal and the sorrow of sappy rock of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness appealed perfectly to my teenage self. It also inspired my first AOL screen name.

20: Prince

Once I became immersed in the punk and hardcore scene as a teenager, my tastes in other music genres took a back seat or remained somewhat private. But two years into college, my interest in the hardcore scene was fading. In the summer of 2001, The Very Best of Prince was released and I picked up a copy at Kmart. It had an immediate effect on me, and I soon picked up other Prince albums and Purple Rain on DVD. Up to that point, I was as an uptight straight edge hardcore kid. Listening to Prince changed my life — socially, mentally, physically — and also made the second half of my college years much more fun.


25: Justin Timberlake – FutureSex/LoveSounds

When FutureSex/LoveSounds was released in 2006, it was the right place at the right time for me. I had just started my second year in graduate school, was stressed out, and needed some good dance music. Before that point, I wasn’t a big fan of Justin Timberlake or anything — Justified had a couple decent tracks — but I recognized what he was trying to do, and I liked it. It gave me the positive, yet abrasive, energy I needed to get through hours in a darkroom.

30: Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg – Je t’aime… moi non plus

During that year I listened to a lot Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg.

35: The Replacements

As a present for my 35th birthday, my wife gave me Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements. I’ve loved The ‘Mats for a long time, but the book furthered my understanding of and affection for the band and the music. So for the past few months, every record from Sorry, Ma to Pleased to Meet Me has been on constant rotation at home, work, in the car. My wife is probably tired of it, because at this rate, it’ll be the same when I turn 40.

One thought on “5-10-15-20

  1. I was happy to see that you included the music that was your roots. A lot of different style music has influenced your life, but at least you had a good base to build from. Elvis is still the king though. You are a great writer Mike.

    Love you ________________________________

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