SOUNDTRACK OF A GENERATION

10 Legendary Albums And Their Secret Backstories


Published on May 1, 2024


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Embark on a journey through the corridors of music history as we unveil the captivating tales behind some of the most iconic albums of the past decades. From legendary bands to solo ventures, each of these albums has a secret story that, in one way or another, contributed to their legacy in the annals of music.

Join us as we explore the lesser-known struggles behind these 10 timeless classics.

1

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles

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The Beatles' groundbreaking album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was born out of their desire to reinvent themselves at a point in their career where being The Beatles was becoming an increasingly dangerous (and tiresome) job.

Band members were in fear of their own fans, to the point where the lyrics of "With A Little Help From My Friends" originally said "What would you do if I sang out of tune? / Would you stand up and throw tomatoes at me?" but was changed because Ringo believed that would just be asking for tomatoes to the face.

2

The Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd

Credit: Stephen Harlan

Pink Floyd's magnum opus, "The Dark Side of the Moon," was initially conceived as an exploration of the pressures musicians had to face within the industry. A series of interviews with the staff that worked at Abbey Road Studios were recorded - they even interviewed Paul McCartney! However, the thematic scope was ultimately expanded to delve into the more universal themes of madness, mortality, and the human condition.

The album was a huge success, and interestingly 10% of the proceeds from it were donated by the band to help fund British comedy troupe Monty Python.

3

Thriller - Michael Jackson

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Michael Jackson's "Thriller" became a cultural phenomenon, solidifying his status as the King of Pop. However, making the legendary album was no walk in the park.

When the nine songs that would be released in the final version were finished, both Jackson and his producer were still dissatisfied with the results. They decided to go back to the studio and remix each song again until everything was perfect, a process that took over two months of intense work. But the effort was certainly worth it because the album not only shattered records but also helped transcend racial and cultural barriers in the music industry.

4

Rumours - Fleetwood Mac

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Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" is a testament to the power of music amidst personal turmoil. Despite a number of soap opera-level internal conflicts and romantic entanglements within the band, they managed to stay focused and channel their emotions into a timeless masterpiece. Given the conditions, the entire album could have easily been a trainwreck, but the result was a piece so raw and powerful that it quickly became one of their most beloved releases.

5

Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen

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Before "Born to Run," Springsteen was an up-and-coming troubadour of the American Dream, still a long way from becoming "The Boss." Drawing from his blue-collar spirit and folk influences, his 1975 release was acclaimed by fans and critics alike, positioning alongside the rock greats, such as Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Bob Dylan.

The album, filled with anthemic songs and cinematic storytelling, resonated deeply with a generation that grew up longing for escape and redemption. In fact, the legend of Springsteen’s perfectionism was likely born during the recording of the album, as the title song alone took more than six months to finish!

6

Abbey Road - The Beatles

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The Beatles' swan song, "Abbey Road," marked the culmination of their musical evolution. Although the tensions between band members were almost to the point of no return - for the promotional video, each Beatle was filmed separately - they managed to set aside their differences and create a collective masterpiece. Allegedly, the band’s longtime producer, George Martin, initially refused to participate in the album but was ultimately coaxed by the band into working with them one more time.

7

Hotel California - Eagles

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Eagles' "Hotel California" epitomizes the excesses and lingering disillusionment of the 1970s California rock scene. With its haunting lyrics and mesmerizing guitar solos, the album captured the zeitgeist of its era, earning it a place in rock music history. Amusingly, lead guitarist Don Felder almost forgot the chords for the titular song, as more than a year had passed since he first recorded it, and the band had to call his housekeeper in Malibu to blast the original cassette recording through the phone until they could reconstruct it.

8

Purple Rain - Prince

Credit: Gary Leonard

Prince's "Purple Rain" was more than just an album, it was an ambitious crossover between cinema, music, and real life. Blending genres and exploring cultural taboos, Purple Rain served to showcase Prince’s virtuosity as a musician and enigmatic persona. Proof of the intense commitment that the project demanded, all band members were forced to take dancing classes before filming, and one of the lead actresses came perilously close to hospitalization due to hypothermia after shooting a scene on an ice-cold lake in Minnesota.

9

Sticky Fingers - The Rolling Stones

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A gritty and raw portrayal of life on the edge, and despite receiving mostly lukewarm reviews from the critics, The Rolling Stones’ "Sticky Fingers" was a huge commercial success - and proved that the band could still push forward and reinvent itself after the tragic events of the 1969 Altamont concert. From Andy Warhol’s provocative cover to the bluesy riffs, the whole album was a celebration of the rock and roll culture of excess and defiance.

10

Pet Sounds - The Beach Boys

Credit: Stephen Harlan

When The Beach Boys - a band mostly known for their sunny and carefree lyrics - released "Pet Sounds," an album filled with intricate arrangements and introspective lyrics, few could contain their surprise. The label was convinced it was going to flop, and wanted the songs to go in a different, more easygoing, direction. The change in trajectory, however, was quite deliberate on the part of the band, as they even hired a copywriter to help give the album’s lyrics more depth. Luckily, Brian Wilson’s genius prevailed and the release went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed albums of all time.


LITERARY ESSENTIALS

10 American Writers That Belong on Every Bookshelf


Published on May 1, 2024


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America is the cradle of some of the most captivating literary voices in history. With twelve Nobel Prize laureates in literature, there is certainly a long tradition of candid voices, unafraid to explore the deepest aspects of the human condition.

Whether you're a seasoned bookworm or just starting your literary journey, here are 10 American authors you simply can't miss.

1

Mark Twain

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Mark Twain, the pen name of Samuel Clemens, is considered by many to be the true father of American literature. Born in Missouri, he translated his life experiences into a rich body of work full of stories from the American South, tackling themes of racism and freedom with unparalleled wit and insight. Twain's honest humor and keen observations make his works timeless and universal.

If you don’t know where to start, his classic novel "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," is an indispensable entry point into his literary world.

2

Emily Dickinson

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One of the most important figures in American poetry, Emily Dickinson’s innovative writing style and lyrical depth inspired countless generations of writers and readers. Despite living an eccentric and reclusive life - at times even reluctant to leave her own bedroom - Dickinson's work explores the universal themes of nature, death, and the human soul with exceptional brilliance.

3

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Today, F. Scott Fitzgerald is best known for capturing the essence of the Jazz Age in his masterpiece, "The Great Gatsby" , but he was a prolific and successful writer in his time. Despite being an outsider for most of his life, he was an insightful observer of society , and many of his novels and short stories explore the most pressing issues of the Roaring Twenties, and the realities behind the American Dream.

4

Harper Lee

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Born in Monroeville, Alabama, Harper Lee was a sharp writer who focused on the complexities of human nature and the pursuit of justice. Her most famous novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird" is considered a seminal work in American literature. Inspired by her observations of family and neighbors during her childhood, Lee tackled themes of racial injustice and moral growth in the Deep South. She received numerous accolades for her literary work, including a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007.

5

Ernest Hemingway

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Ernest Hemingway's concise yet powerful writing style revolutionized modern literature. From the battlefields of World War I in "A Farewell to Arms" to the bullfights of Spain in "The Sun Also Rises," Hemingway's novels are informed by his own tumultuous life experience as well as imbued with themes of masculinity, love, and existentialism. From his short stories to his complex novels, Hemingway’s spare prose continues to be relevant today.

6

Sylvia Plath

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Sylvia Plath's confessional poetry delves into the depths of the human psyche with raw intensity and honesty. Her only novel, the semi-autobiographical "The Bell Jar" explores issues of mental health, existential despair, and women’s roles in society from the perspective of a young undergraduate student arriving in New York City in the 50s. A life marked by tragedy, Plath was awarded a Pulitzer Prize posthumously in 1982 for her collected poetry, and her poignant prose continues to captivate readers to this day.

7

Walt Whitman

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The quintessential American poet, Walt Whitman’s titanic poetic oeuvre, mostly collected in "Leaves of Grass," celebrates from every angle the diversity and vitality of America. Through free verse and beautifully crafted imagery, Whitman captures in his verses the spirit of democracy and freedom. His influence on American poetry is immeasurable, inspiring generations of poets and laying the groundwork for a national narrative.

8

Louisa May Alcott

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Best known for the timeless classic "Little Women," Alcott's portrayal of strong, independent female characters challenged the societal norms of her time and continues to inspire readers of all ages. Her vivid storytelling and universal themes of love, sacrifice, and personal growth make her an essential read for anyone seeking heartwarming tales of courage and camaraderie amidst the hardships of life.

9

John Steinbeck

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Focusing on the struggles of the American working class during the Great Depression, Steinbeck’s work explores themes of poverty, injustice, and the pursuit of the American Dream. His most famous novels, "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Of Mice and Men," offer windows into the lives of those who built America with their blood, sweat and tears.

10

Toni Morrison

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Pulitzer Prize winner and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison is recognized as a trailblazer in her generation , unafraid to delve into the complexities of the lives of African Americans in the United States with powerfully honest prose . "Beloved," one of her most popular novels, is a haunting tale of slavery's legacy during the Reconstruction era. Her exploration of the questions of identity and the human condition resonates deeply with readers worldwide.

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