Composer & Lyricist David Reiser Gets Passionate About the Five Albums That Rocked His World
August 21st, 2015
by David Reiser
Composer, lyricist, author and actor David Reiser assembled one kick-ass lineup for his debut 54 Below show The Songs of David Reiser.
But before he takes the stage on August 27, the Joni and Charlotte's Web composer shared with BroadwayBox the five albums that completely rocked his world. Read on to see how passionately he talks about music and get an idea of the great artists that have influenced his unique sound.
The Love Below, Outkast (Andre 3000)Why I Chose It: I got my graduate degree in Music Theory and I wrote my master’s thesis on this album, so I spent endless hours analyzing every last detail of this sucker. My thesis focused on the way that Andre used music composition and production (as opposed to only the lyrics) to create vivid characters and a storyline for the album. I also talked about the lyrics, and the music production, and how the album was in the tradition of other great concept albums like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Tommy, and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. If you want to intrigue/bore yourself, you can read the thesis my website DavidAre.com, as it eventually became a book, Outkast & the Love Below. All my own writing is so heavily inspired and influenced by Outkast; even in Musical Theatre tunes, I always aim for a lil’ “Chonkyfire spliced with Rock n Roll. Indubitably.”
Year I Discovered It: I discovered it on the first day the Outkast double disc, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below came out in stores. I didn’t like it at all at first, which is the beauty of all Outkast albums, of course, because they grow on you until they are monsters who never get old.
Ultimate track: “Dracula’s Wedding”— This track is so banging. Can I say that word without seeming like an idiot? Deal with it, it is banging. Talk about using musical composition to create a character. Boom.
Black Sheep, Martin SextonWhy I Chose It: If we’re talking about albums that truly rocked my world in a way where I dropped everything and stared at the sound coming out of my speakers, then this one should probably go right at the top. Because…..
Year I Discovered It: I had come to love Martin Sexton’s In The Journey, and I was given Black Sheep during my senior year in college as a gift from my music guru Salter. I got home much later that night, collegiately sauced, and I cranked up the volume on my speaks before pressing play. I vaguely remember the beginning of the title track “Black Sheep” playing, but what is burned in the memory of my then drunken mind, is the sublime vocal bliss at 2:37, when Martin unleashes one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever heard, and sings ‘I take a couple chances; my progress it advances to that prize of my freedooooooooooooooooom.” When that moment hit, I vividly remember my drunken bumblings and stumblings coming to a sudden halt and I just stared at the speakers in disbelief at what I was hearing. I’ve seen Martin Sexton innumerable times since then, and still haven’t stopped staring in disbelief at his majestic musical powers.
Ultimate track: I mean, based on that last story, it’s gotta be the title track, “Black Sheep”, though “Can’t Stop Thinking About You” is as spellbinding a song as the person being sung about.
Abbey Road, The BeatlesWhy I Chose It: Well, duh, who doesn’t list this album? Come on, you’ve got to. Plus, for me, I think it’d be the one album I would select for that whole “somehow you’re stranded on a desert island, and you can only take one album” game (a scenario which makes very little sense).
Year I Discovered It: In my family growing up, we only ever listened to The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Ol’ Blue Eyes, and Musicals (we’re a very happy group). But we were such a happy group that my parents really only ever played the early Beatles albums (well, mostly up through Sgt. Pepper). So I incorrectly grew up thinking that I was a Beatles superfan, until one day in college, my boy Joboo suggested we go sit in his parked car and crank Abbey Road from top to bottom. I was like, “What’s Abbey Road?” 16 & 1/2 tracks later, I was a Beatles superfan. And still in a parked car.
Ultimate track: Ultimate track is from “You Never Give Me Your Money” straight on til morning. Just let the thing play out and don’t stop it til the single bass note that would’ve transitioned straight into “Polythene Pam,” but instead just concludes “Her Majesty.” Feels like one track to me!
All Eyez on Me, 2PacWhy I Chose It: There are just so many hot tracks on this double disc. I mean, my high school was this album, my college was this album, my days on the streets are this album. There’s an embarrassment of riches here. It’s not flawless top to bottom, but nobody is (except my wife), and it’s just riddled with hip-hop gems that have influenced every artist since. Obviously, Tupac’s flow is sick, but what really shines for me are the beats, the grooves, and the hooks are all just so original and head banging, from the classic smash hits like “Ambitionz Az a Ridah”, “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted”, “Life Goes On”, “All About You”, “California Love” to other well titled tracks like “Heartz of Men”, “Skandalouz,” and the title track “All Eyez On Me.” And clearly the best use of the letter “Z” on any album to date.
Year I Discovered It: I heard this album coming out of multiple car trunks everyday of my life, growing up fifteen minutes from the Florida-Georgia line in Tally.
Ultimate track: If you haven’t listened to “No More Pain” - Disc One, Track 7 - I dare you to try and not bounce-bounce when the beat drops over DeVanté’s haunting piano hook.
The Natural — film score by Randy NewmanWhy I Chose It: Oh man, this is tough to choose only one more album. I had to look back at the exact prompt/title for these musings (which I have so thoroughly enjoyed doing) to get specific and choose one more album that specifically “rocked my world.” To have one’s world rocked is a fairly serious endeavor, which is why I decided to choose the soundtrack to Randy Newman and Barry Levinson’s film The Natural, based on the magically realistic book by Bernard Malamud. I mean, you better be feeling a whole lotta something if you’re saying your world was actually rocked, like maybe you need to see a doctor, rocked. And that’s what this gorgeous film score does for me, it’s like going to the doctor every time I hear it. The Natural, starring Robert Redford, is my favorite film of all-time thanks to this score, sumptuously composed and conducted by Randy Newman. Even listening to it here, now, as I type, it effortlessly brings tears to my eyes hearing the main theme and many more moments. The film is driven by the score and needs so little dialogue to communicate the feelings and moments therein. Imagery and music are combined so seamlessly—I can see the entire film as I sit here only listening to the score. It always awakens my emotional world every time I hear it, and I am brought beyond my current state to discover the current moment in a new way. Now that’s having your world rocked.
Year I Discovered It: My parents taped this off the TV onto VHS for me when I was a kid. That should give you a basic timeline. Long ago, Dude, long ago.
Ultimate track: It’s really all about the whole album and/or the film as a whole, but if you’re looking to get a quick sniff of what Newman’s cooking here, then I’d suggest the essentiality of “The Final Game.” It’s an action-packed 4 minutes of music, as you can hear every feeling and moment more clearly than you could ever see it.
With all this passion about music, how can you even resist the chance to hear what David Reiser’s created?! Grab a ticket for The Songs of David Reiser at 54 Below on August 27.