What Was the Last Album You Obsessed Over?

by James Wallace Harris, 2/27/22

I’m not really concerned with which album you recall, but when. I’ve been playing When You See Yourself by the Kings of Leon over and over for weeks. What’s significant to me is it came out in 2021. When was the last time you bought a new album? I mean one that had been recorded recently?

I still buy the occasional new album on release day, like Adele 35, but it’s getting to be an extremely rare event. But even rarer is finding a new album I go bonkers over. I loved the new Adele album, but I haven’t played it obsessively like I have When You See Yourself.

Over my lifetime I’ve bought several thousand albums, but the ones I love the best are the ones I play constantly for weeks. Albums I repeat like those rats who continuously push the button connected to the reward center of their brain. Out of all those albums, probably less than 100, or even less than 50, and maybe even less than 25, were the kind I’d play over and over for weeks. I can’t really name the figure because my memory is so unreliable, but if it was only one a year, it would be around 50-60. But the albums that wowed me mostly came out in the 1960s and 1970s, and then they slowed to a trickle. That means it might only be 25.

One reason I was inspired to write this blog was seeing a post on Facebook about Breakfast in America by Supertramp. That was another album I couldn’t stop playing for weeks. But that was back in 1979 and again in the 1990s when I got the CD, and again for weeks in the 2010s when I remembered it.

I think most of my friends, and I’m talking Baby Boomers here, when they think of a great album, think of albums from the 1960s and 1970s. My wife Susan, is like me, she’ll still want a new album, but much less often than me, and it usually involves The Foo Fights or Jackson Browne.

I believe the album I’ve played the most times over the course of my life is Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan. Every few years I come back to it and wear it out again. I’ve bought it on LP, CD, and SACD.

Why do most people stop buying new music after a certain period in their lives? Why do most people seem to only play music from when they were growing up? And is the reason I love When You See Yourself is because it sounds like something that could have been created in 1975?

My previous obsessively played album was Young in All the Wrong Ways by Sara Watkins (2016). Before that, the album I couldn’t stop playing was The Way Sounds Leaves the Room by Sarah Jaffe (2011).

It might take a long while and some digging through albums to find the one before that. I know during the 2010s I returned to playing Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan from 1966 over and over again.

Certain albums from the past do pop up in my memory but these are hardly all of them. I thought I’d just remember a handful of them in pictures.

That’s enough. What were you favorites?


19 thoughts on “What Was the Last Album You Obsessed Over?”

  1. Many thanks for this post, Jim! I grew up in the late seventies and early eighties, listening mostly to music from a few years earlier, especially the Beatles and Cat Stevens, although I also like Supertramp. I no longer have LPs (as I still call vinyl records), but often play their CDs and listen to their songs on YouTube. Like you, my listening tends to be somewhat retro, and I’m also not sure why that is. I think the most recent musician whose music I actively explored was Bruce Cockburn in the early to mid-eighties.

  2. Late 70s, early 80s are my musical comfort zone. That posting of Breakfast in America was mine … I have access to pretty much all of musical history through a music streaming service, but that album appears to be the one I have requested most. Funny thing,I would have expected it to be either Dark Side of the Moon, I Robot, or Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds. Thanks for your reflections, they are much appreciated!

  3. Oh, my gosh, so many…. The three I probably played the most over the years—and still play today—are: The Best Of The Lovin’ Spoonful, Tom Paxton’s Even a Gray Day, and Judy Collins’ Who Knows Where the Time Goes.

    1. Who Knows Where the Time Goes is another big favorite of mine. I’ve always heard The Lovin’ Spoonful on compilations. I’m not sure I ever owned one of their albums. And I’ve seen Tom Paxton perform, but never had any of his records. I’ll have to play Even a Grey Day

  4. Like you, I played BLONDE ON BLONDE until the grooves wore out! Loved Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run and The Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street. And maybe a dozen MOTOWN compilations!

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever owned any Motown albums. Always loved their songs on the radio and on compilations. However, my second favorite album of all time is What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, which came out as Tamla, which I believe is Motown by another name.

  5. Horses was an obsession for me, back in the day. Also: I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, by Richard and Linda Thompson; Astral Weeks, by Van Morrison; Rust Never Sleeps, by Neil Young; Exile on Main Street, by the Rolling Stones. And others. But those are all from 40+ years ago.

    More recently — though still an old album, just discovered late! — Unhalfbricking, by Fairport Convention. Plus “After Awhile”, by Jimmie Dale Gilmore (only a quarter century ago!)

  6. round and round obsessions… in no particular order “Kinda Blue,” John Prine’s first, Van Dyke Park’s “Song Cycle,” Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Shoot Out The Lights,” Arcade’s Fire first, Brian Wilson’s Smile, and most recently Bob Dylan’s, John Wesley Harding. Interesting Post. Thanks

  7. Wow, so far no one has come anywhere close to the 21st century, much less the 2020s. If y’all have access to streaming music you should try the newer albums I mention above. They are as good as anything I loved from back in the 1960s and 1970s. Wait, wait, r.Douglas did mention Arcade Fire – I love them, especially Funeral. Hurray for you.

    I forgot all about Van “the Man” Morrison. I obsessed over every album from Moondance to Enlightenment. I kept buying them after that, I just didn’t play them obsessively.

    I had some Richard and Linda Thompson albums but didn’t obsess over them, though I really like Shoot Out the Lights.

    I liked all the early Rolling Stones albums, but my favorites were Let It Bleed and Beggars Banquet. I lost interest in them at this point, except for the song “Time Waits for No One,” which I’ve played a thousand times. I did play Let It Bleed obsessively.

    I obsessively played Neil Young starting with Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere through Harvest, and then played certain songs from the albums afterward Ragged Glory.

    I was quite obsessive with all the Buffalo Springfield albums, The Byrds, and CS&N and CSN&Y.

    I was so crazy about so many artists and groups. I have a long list of female vocalists I played obsessively from Reba, Nancy Griffiths, Judy Collins, Barbra Streisand, Janis Ian, etc.

    Once I open my memory bank memories start flooding out…

    1. The 21st century? I haven’t even caught up to the nineties, although I imagine I’ve listened to one or two more recent songs on YouTube.

    1. I went through a big Florence + The Machine obsession, at least for their first two albums – Lungs 2009 and Ceremonials 2011. Are they still producing records? I just checked, and I got High As Hope in 2018, so it’s been a few years since anything new.

      That reminds me, after the time I was playing Florence + The Machine I got obsessed with an album Our Version of Events (2012) by Emeli Sandé.

      Don’t know Angus & Julie Stone, I’ll have to give them a listen.

      1. A new single, “King” by Florence was on my new releases playlist from Spotify last week. Otherwise the last new album was High As Hope. I’ll give Emeli Sande a listen.

  8. Music often hits us hardest in adolescence. Last time I bought an album of new music has been a while, since I’ve had some lean times in recent years, and tend to stream the new sounds I like in various ways…Sonos, various web services, listening to the radio. Most recent new/ish recordings on CD I’ve picked up include the most recent Bangles album SWEETHEARTS OF THE SUN, a few by The GO! Team, trying to recall which non-archival collection of jazz I bought last. Last full new albums I can recall playing the laser imprinting off of would run to the BANDITS soundtrack (the German film/album featuring Jasmin Tabatabai), GOD BLESS THE GO-GO’S, DOLL REVOLUTION by the Bangles, MY SCRAPBOOK OF FATAL ACCIDENTS by Jawbox.

    1. Todd, I consider listening to albums via streaming the same as buying them on CD or LP. That’s how most people listen to an album nowadays.

      I have the CD When You See Yourself by Kings of Leon, but most of the time I just stream it on Spotify. The only albums I buy are the ones I become obsessed with, so that means I don’t buy many. I really don’t need to buy CDs at all, but I kind of do it for nostalgia’s sake, and to help support my favorite artists. I’ll go stream Sweetheart of the Sun now to try it out.

  9. I came of age in the late 70s, and never outgrew my adolescent obsession with music. Some of the 21st century bands/albums I wore out:

    Elliot Smith – XO (1998)
    The DelGados – Universal Audio (2004)
    Sia – Some People Have Real Problems (2008)

    Of all the bands I’ve obsessed on in the last 20 years is a band that never really made it from SF called: 20 Minute Loop. They’re gone now but still available on Bandcamp.
    Sometimes I think the best bands are the bittersweet examples exploding with songwriting talent that nevertheless are commercial failures (eg. Guadalcanal Diary)

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