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Rock Lists and Valentines: Musician, Singer, and Songwriter Jonathan Andrew’s Top 10 Albums of All Time

February 14, 2009

Live at Gettysburg! One Night Only!

#4 in an ongoing series of Top Ten Lists by my favorite photographers, writers, and musicians. Check out the Top Ten lists of Barbara Livingston, Bill Finley, and Bud Morton.

I met Jonathan Andrew in 1997. My BFF Mo and I were headed to a concert at Rutgers. On the way to the show, Mo noticed two guys. First, they were at the bus stop. Then, they were on the bus with us, Then, they were at the show. Then, they were standing next to us at the show. I was not in the mood for meeting strangers but Mo is always in the mood for being gregarious. We started chatting with the guys and they turned out to be pretty cool. We enjoyed our concert. When the show was over, Mo and Dave (one of the guys) wanted the four of us to hang out. The other guy (who lied to me several times about his name, aggravating me to no end) did not look like he was interested in hanging out. Neither was I; I had to work at the barn early in the morning and I wanted to go to bed. Mo and Dave won out and the four of us ended up staying up all night eating grilled cheese at the Grease Trucks, watching Brain Candy, and talking about rock.

It turned out that Jonathan (the guy who lied about his name) also played guitar. As he walked in the room with his guitar, I rolled my eyes. I’ve seen this before. The guy with the long hair and the guitar. Whatever.

But this guy was actually good. He played Guided By Voices songs with startling accuracy and had a really fantastic singing voice. Aside from the AWFUL Weezer song (is there any other kind of Weezer song, really?) that he sang for Mo’s benefit, he had pretty good taste in music. He did not, however, know any Pixies songs and he had not yet heard OK Computer. This was remedied at once. At the end of the night (4am or so), we exchanged CDs. Jon gave me his copy of Guided By Voices’ Vampire on Titus/Propellor and I gave him the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa and Radiohead’s OK Computer. We dated through college and got married in 2005 and lived happily ever after, rocking out to Pixies and GBV songs all the while.

OK, there’s a little more to the story than that.

Jon completes my exacta. He’s perfect. He is funny, smart, supportive, handsome, and fascinating. He accepts everything about me and encourages all my crazy dreams. We laugh A LOT. We have just as much fun on our adventures as we do sitting on the couch talking about the merits of Alice Cooper and Olivia Tremor Control.

My Other Half

We’ve seen a lot of shows. And we’ve been to the track a few times…

Kick back and have a beer....

...and let your woman do the handicapping

Actually, we’ve been to tracks from coast to coast. We even went to Santa Anita and Los Alamitos on our honeymoon (we also caught a great rock show at the Troubadour).

Evening laughter in Hallandale Beach, FL

Cool ocean breezes in Boynton Beach, FL

After growing up without any pets, Jon has humored me by riding a few times and supporting me at my horse shows.

Indie Rock Boys and Horses...

There is always music. We’re either listening to records (yes, on VINYL), rocking out on road trips, or Jon is playing music. Jon has performed in many bands, providing driving bass lines, masterful vocals, and sometimes even drumming. His most recent bands have been The Angry Monsters, Souls’ Release, Ciampi, and currently he’s working on an album with Mike Ferraro. He has toured with his bands and guested on many stages and albums. Jon also is a songwriter and solo performer. He has a new solo EP coming out soon and I’ll be sure to share it with you as soon as it’s officially released. His songs sound like they were written by a person who truly loves music: carefully crafted and executed with heartfelt singing and playing. And he can do the craziest jumps onstage.

The Twelve Days of Rock and Racehorses' Christmas....

My husband is cool

Jonathan Andrew rocking with Joshua Van Ness and Friends

Jonathan Andrew Action Figure © Sarah K. Andrew

Does your husband...

Jonathan Andrew’s iTunes library includes over 1200 albums by more than 600 artists. These are the ten best:

10. Shellac – At Action Park [Touch and Go, 1994]
The most sound three men can possibly make. Who needs melody when you can play like this, anyway?
Check out: Dog and Pony Show

9. The Mountain Goats – Tallahassee [4AD, 2002]
The first track represents the titles for this post-modern musical noir and the last tune plays over the end credits. In between, John Darnielle and Peter Hughes weave a story in song as thematically brutal as musically excellent.
Check out: No Children

8. Uncle Tupelo – No Depression [Rockville, 1990]
The precocious trio’s first and most ferocious salvo combines the energy of hardcore and the hard-luck storytelling of country to astounding effect. Enjoy Wilco and Son Volt all you want, but realize that Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar peaked on their very first outing.
Check out: Graveyard Shift

7. R.E.M. – Murmur [I.R.S., 1983]
I usually go for naturalism, but I find the unique synthesis of sounds on this record – piano doubling bass, acoustic and electric guitars played in unison, a cymbal crash married to a bell chime – to be deeply moving. Michael Stipe is at his most mumbly and obtuse, but, buyoed by Berry, Buck, and Mills’ innovative musicianship, the emotion shakes through.
Check out: Laughing

6. Neil Young – Tonight’s The Night [Reprise, 1975]
Talk about a record that reeks of time and place. Recorded live in an L.A. rehearsal space, this grief-ridden masterpiece features some of the most immediate songs and crudest singing of Young’s admittedly raw career. Eerie brilliance.
Check out: Tired Eyes

5. Descendents – Milo Goes to College [SST, 1982]
Four pissed-off teens alternately screaming about legitimate gripes and adolescent angst, seemingly unaware of – or at least unconcerned with – the difference. The best punk-rock record ever.
Check out: Hope

4. Bruce Springsteen – The River [Columbia, 1980]
This slot could be occupied by just about any of the Boss’s first seven records, but his 1980 double-LP gets the nod due to its ambitious scope and the fiercest playing of the E Street Band’s storied career. As (almost) always on a Springsteen record, the songs are top notch.
Check out: Out in the Street

3. The Band – The Band [Capitol, 1969]
Nobody in the pop/rock sphere played better together than these four Canadians and one Arkansan, and this record boasts their best performances. Robbie Robertson’s songwriting is at its evocative best, the group’s three singers are in fine voice, and John Simon’s clear, warm production lets you hear every note.
Check out: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

2. Belle and Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister [Jeepster, 1996]
Seven Glaswegians, five days, ten acoustic-guitar-based songs: it shouldn’t be this good, but somehow it is. Stuart Murdoch’s melodies and observations have never been sharper, nor his mates’ accompaniment more sympathetic.
Check out: The Stars of Track and Field

1. Pixies – Surfer Rosa [4AD, 1988]
Engineer Steve Albini nailed this one: crank the drums and Kim Deal’s angelic vocals, cut the bass, and roll tape. It doesn’t hurt to have a baker’s dozen of subversive pop masterworks – courtesy Charles “Black Francis” Thompson – at your disposal either.
Check out: River Euphrates

Jonathan Andrew performs an acoustic set at The Goldhawk

11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2009 9:13 am

    Happy V-Day, you Rock and Racehorses sweeties!

    S … that top pic is my favorite non-horse one of yours of all time. 🙂

  2. February 14, 2009 10:08 pm

    Fade Away – I don’t wanna fade away.
    The River was huge when I was high schooler. How times flies.

    And that Action Park album – what is that?
    Was that recorded in North Jersey at the amusement park by the same name?

    I know, too many questions but.
    Did either one of you attend Rutgers, New Brunswick by any chance?

  3. February 15, 2009 1:35 am

    Thanks guys!

    I did a little investigative Googling and I’m not really sure about the Action Park connection. Action Park is part of the album art, but Steve Albini made his name in Chicago:

    And yes, we are both Rutgers grads and I lived in the surrounding towns for a few years after graduation.

  4. February 15, 2009 7:17 pm

    Very good.
    My sister is a a Scarlet Knights alumni herself.
    Then she went to Drexel to get her masters.

    Lots of Jersey racing connections emanating from New Brunswick.
    The acclaimed thoroughbred racing writer Steve Davidowitz
    also hailed from the same campus.

    Did I mention that you too make a cute couple?
    I see Lennon/McCartney fashion influence in Mr. Andrew.
    It’s clear to me that he sleeps with Abbey Road tucked under his pillow. 😀

  5. February 16, 2009 1:42 pm

    Aw, thanks! Yeah, he gets the Lennon thing from people every once in a while. He is of Scottish descent, though… maybe a Scottish Lennon?

    I always thought he looked more like Dave Grohl :^)


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