Every Record I Own - Day 271: Creedence Clearwater Revival Willy and the Poor Boys
When I was younger, I made mental lists of my favorite records. I was a burgeoning music head; that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re a geeky teenager discovering all these new subcultures. And your favorite records all have a certain utility to them: they all entertain on a very basic level.
Forgive me if I’m projecting my own habits onto other people. But at some point your tastes broaden and you realize that having a whole album memorized doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best record in your collection. I’m pretty sure I can convincingly air drum to the entirety of Enema of the State, but I would never put that album on a pedestal.
A few years ago I was asked in an interview to list some of my favorite albums and I remember dropping Willy and the Poor Boys in the mix of a few dozen records. And for good reason… I love this album from front to back. I know it far more intimately than, say, And Their Refinement of the Decline, but it’s a pretty short and straightforward record compared to Stars of the Lid’s two-hour ambient opus. Similarly, I can sing along to this entire record, which is certainly something I can’t say for… oh, maybe Soon Over Babaluma? But the beauty of Can’s 1974 album is that it continues to reveal things with each new listen, whereas CCR pretty much lays all their cards out on the table right from the get-go.
I don’t have “favorite” records anymore. Willy and the Poor Boys makes me happy every time I listen to it, but I don’t think it’s as ambitious, bold, and graceful as And Their Refinement of the Decline, nor do I think it’s as mysteriously haunting as Soon Over Babaluma. They’re apples and oranges, of course—they have radically different utilities. But why would you put a preference on a certain utility? Why talk about desert island records when you have no idea how you’ll feel on that desert island?