Written by Fantasma el Rey
Heavy Rotation is a book that takes a look at twenty current writers and the albums that “changed their lives” as the subtitle implies. It also explores the reasons and times surrounding that particular album. The twenty authors are mostly the same age ranging from late thirties to mid forties, one or two may be a bit older or younger, but the majority lay there. They also cruise the vast musical spectrum covering Broadway musicals to ‘80s alternative and corny pop. The book is a good look at the connection between writers and their love for music and is the brainchild of editor/contributor Peter Terzian. An excellent and easy read that’s hard to put down as one can relate to the feelings and emotions that music brings even if unfamiliar with some of the albums listed.
Not all the albums written about are monster bestsellers or by bands or artists one would think would fill the pages of such a book. Shelia Heti recounts her fascination with the Annie soundtrack and how it led to an appearance on a local kid’s show hosted by some kooky clown and the odd disappointment she felt when she met her childhood idol years later. Alice Elliott Dark goes over how a Beatle became the father figure she tragically lost and had to deal with as a young girl as she glances back on Meet The Beatles. We also get a look how some bands can make you feel as if you know them and they could have been boys from down the street as Martha Southgate revisits her adoration for a quiet member of the Jackson 5 and their Greatest Hits album.
Heavy Rotation’s contributors also share how certain albums represent a small place in time. From a six-month stint in college where the B-52s’ self-titled debut ruled the turntable and seemed like it did for a longer time as Clifford Chase became engulfed by the band and began to understand himself a bit more through them. Or how Joni Mitchell’s Blue was played constantly at the annoyance of family members for three weeks before young Colm Toibin had to head off to boarding school where records weren’t allowed. Then there is Asali Solomon’s nearly complete dislike of Gloria Estefan before spending a semester in the hostile (to her) Dominican Republic and coming to find comfort in Estefan’s solo album Mi Tierra.