The REAL best album of 2014…

image from nerdbastards.comRecently, I finally got around to publishing my list of 2014’s best albums. But, in truth, the 2014 album that actually meant the most to me was left off that list.

I’m talking about, of course, The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack.

First, let’s talk briefly about the move. Up to this point, if there was a movie coming out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that seemed destined to be a clunker, it was this one. it was a small, little known title from the Marvel Comics catalog that nobody seemed to care about or really even remember. Plus it featured a tree and a talking raccoon. Good luck with that, Marvel.

Instead, this impossible story became one of their most endearing and beloved releases since the original Iron Man movie. It was Star Wars for a new generation. I even teared up during this movie. So help me God, I was teary!

A big part of what made this movie magical was the sentimental and wonderfully out-of-place 70’s soundtrack. Prior to getting kidnapped by aliens as a kid, our hero, Peter Quill, was given a mix tape by his mother (Awesome Mix, Vol. 1). The tape was filled with some of her favorites songs. And Quill listens to this tape constantly. And in 2014, so did my family.

But the albums’ place in our heavy rotation wasn’t driven so much by me. Rather, it was my 16-year-old son, Evan, who played this over and over.

I’ve written about Evan before. He is our ASD, Aspie kid. He loves all things Marvel comics and Marvel movies. And, since he was a toddler, he has loved music. Some of our earliest memories of Evan involve him listening to his favorite songs and using a pair of wooden spoons to drum along on the couch, keeping the beat perfectly while also singing along. Now, I’m not talking about kid songs. His favorites were things like “Video Killed The Radio Star”, “I Want It That Way”, Weezer’s “Island in the Sun”, and the DVD for Bruce Springsteen’s Live in NYC concert from 2000. He has always dialed into the songs that Natalie and I were listening to, but it is the stuff from previous eras that he seems to dig the best. He was recently really excited to discover Todd Rundgren’s “Can We Still Be Friends.” I believe it was helping him work through a challenging friendship. I think he hears and connects with the honesty of emotion in a lot of these old songs. I get that.

So along comes Guardians of the Galaxy, which combines his love for superheroes and his love for old school pop tunes. That’s a win-win. For both of us.

The songs chosen for this were critical. It’s a lot of pop, with edges and rock, soul, R&B, and a little punk. Some of the tunes are all time classics (Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”). Some were big hits that have become slightly forgotten (10cc’s “I’m Not In Love”), and some were considered so cheesy that it has taken nearly 40 years for them to become listenable again (Rupert Holmes’ “Escape”). But all of it works to keep things light and fun while adding a layer of nostalgia and sentimentality to this story about the power of friendship, teamwork, and love. Oh, it’s also about good guys and bad guys fighting and blowing a lot of stuff up. And there’s a big tree and a talking raccoon.

On a personal note, the soundtrack is important because I love seeing Evan discover and fall in love with these songs – songs that were part of the soundtrack to my own youth – for the first time. I remember discovering The raspberries’ “Go All The Way” in middle school and wondering why it was never played on the radio anymore. And now, watching Evan emulate Chris Pratt’s moves to Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love” was a little like looking into the past and getting to relive my original experience with this music. It has allowed me to fall in love with these songs all over again. Even the Pina Colada Song . That is the magic of this album.

Plus, I now get the added bonus of driving down the street with Evan and his 11 year-old brother, all of us singing loudly “Hello Daddy, Hello Mom, I’m your ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch Cherry Bomb!” (It’s both fantastic and a little uncomfortable)

I didn’t include Guardians of the Galaxy’s Awesome Mix Vol. 1 on my best albums list because none of the songs are new to 2014. That kind of eliminated it from consideration. But, looking outside of those boundaries into the territory that occupies the heart of my family, the most important album of 2014 for us was the one that conjured images of Star Lord challenging the evil Ronan to “listen to these words” while singing “Ooh Child”, a tiny tree dancing to the Jackson 5, a green girl discovering pop music through “Fooled Around and Fell In Love”, and a band of intergalactic misfits uniting to the “Ooga-chaka” sounds of Blue Suede.  And it also created a bunch of great, spontaneous, burst out loud sing-a-long moments for my family. That is a special album, and the best of 2014.


~ by themattmorrisshow on January 16, 2015.

One Response to “The REAL best album of 2014…”

  1. Yes to all of this. So happy to have lived it with all of you.

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