(This post meanders, and has no real point. Consider yourself forewarned.)
If I hear an Albany resident under the age of 40 say, "That is my favorite. album. EVER." I immediately know what they're talking about, without even looking.
'How could you possibly know that?' you say?
You only talk to people who have the same taste as you! you say?
Nah, because it's always the same. (I say.) Without question, the most frequently-named favorite album ever is 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.' by Neutral Milk Hotel. I think that most people, when confronted with choosing a favorite album would balk and wave away the question saying, "Oh, I could never choose." But folks who have fallen head over heels in love with this album are quick to put it in position #1 with very little hesitation. Best ever. End of story.
And it is, but I wonder if it would have the same effect on me today as it did when I was 19 and about to be on my own, supporting myself for the very first time. Would it have buoyed me through that time (simply by distracting me from the major changes I was going through. I barely remember the transition period, but, boy oh boy, do I remember listening to the hell out of that album during it) in the same way? I really don't know. When it comes to other art forms, like movies, I usually feel that they have a time and a place. I never saw 'Goonies' as a kid and probably never will, because it will never be as magical to someone pushing thirty as it was to all the eight year-olds who watched the VHS on repeat until the tape broke.
When I first heard, 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea' I distinctly remember thinking, "Alright, well, there it is. If I die in my sleep tonight, I haven't missed out on this and no one will be able to take it away from me." That is a powerful piece of art, right there, to evoke that emotion in the heart of a kid. That feeling doesn't come around too often, for me, anyway (other inspirations being Joanna Newsom albums and anything written by Robert Pirsig.) That feeling where you're actually scared someone's going to try to take this thing from you. It's precious and, I'm telling you, 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea' will give you that feeling. But I guess I'm biased.