“My parents really thought that I was a huge Fall Out Boy fan, and for my birthday they gave me tickets for their Halloween show in Miami,” says Brandon Flynn about his first live concert experience. “I rushed to listen to the album because I think I only knew one song, wished I was going to see Tom Petty, but it turned out to be a pretty badass night for my 13-year-old self. I saw my mom pee behind a dumpster, Fall Out Boy dressed up as Panic! at the Disco for Halloween, and I smelled pot for the first time!”
Since his early teenage years, Mr. Flynn’s love of music has only evolved and the sounds that inspire him now range the auditory spectrum. With the third season of 13 Reasons Why about to stun his loyal audience, a series of new projects (True Detective, Looks That Kill), and a slew of personal creative writing projects on the way, Flynn shares the 10 albums that have had the greatest influence on him (and the man he’s become) to date. Listen wisely.
om Petty and the Heartbreakers, Greatest Hits A lot of the time, greatest-hits albums bum me out because people never listen to all the untouched gems, but instead, just focus on the hits. When I was younger, this album was a staple. We’d listen to this on our frequent road trips to visit my sick grandmother in central Florida. This album showcases the songs that my family and I know and love and sing along to to this day. Anytime I miss my sisters or my parents, this album always brings me home.
The Beatles, Rubber Soul When I first got my iPod Classic, a guy named Frank gave me all of his Beatles CDs—my iPod was literally nothing but The Beatles. This album made me understand music a little more; the band was maturing in sound and stepping away from pop and so was I—as the listener.
Original Broadway Cast, Spring Awakening This ALBUM! I was 14 and just told my parents that I was bisexual. Things were very tense at home and obviously, hormones and angst need an epic soundtrack. I used to ride my bike around the lake I lived near and I would scream every word to this album.
Nirvana, MTV Unplugged There aren’t many albums that I can listen to from start to finish that allow me to go through a range of emotions and thoughts as clearly as this album lets me. Nirvana is a hero of mine, poetic and soulful, haunting and heartfelt, grunge and classic. I wish I sang like Kurt Cobain, which a lot of people would raise an eyebrow to, but I thought his voice portrayed what he sang about so harmoniously. If you watch the live performance, the set decoration is goals and vibes!
Joni Mitchell, Blue I love being introduced to music and some of my favorite people in my life have each recommended this album. Joni is an artist and she understands the meaning of words and music being best friends; best friends that open up your chest and massage your heart till you cry out all your feelings and feel better. I listen to this album almost every time I land in L.A. I love a good cry in the car as the sun sets beyond the hills and palm trees.
LCD Soundsystem, The Long Goodbye (Live at Madison Square Garden) In high school, my friends and I were really getting into going out and dancing. I literally had some of my most fun times going out when I was around these people; every moment was infused with meaning and love and true friendship. Aside from all the ooey gooey, we would always share music with each other. One of the songs that circulated was “Dance Yrself Clean,” everyone approved and that was that. I have been to a couple of their shows and even though I didn’t go to this one, it is still my favorite. For some reason, all I hear are the words, the incredible fucking genius of the poetic flow of consciousness mixed with the electronic beat is a literal ear orgasm. This album makes me want to write. It’s very inspiring.
Radiohead, In Rainbows This album reminds me of Maggie, maybe my only friend I’ve known for most of my life. She is one of the most beautiful people I have ever encountered. When I went to college, I realized I wouldn’t have her around as much as we were both expanding on to our own thing. I realized this was the case with a lot of people I had encountered in Miami. This album has this incredibly nostalgic feel to it. It also feels like a reach-out, a plea, a craving for ease; I think I really needed that in my dorm room in New Jersey.
B.B. King, Live in Cook County Jail This album is just really cool. To hear the inmates, the guards, the jail council, B.B., and his guitar, Lucille, is really a fascinating concept. The idea of all these people getting together and enjoying the blues inside a prison, where in the end some may go home and some may never see life beyond a sky-high fence, it gets me every time. Another guy who I wish I could sing like, almost like he is singing because he is scared of his thoughts and feelings. He has this one track, it’s a medley and B.B. King takes all the men who populate the cells of Cook County Jail through a couple decades of his hits; just a really cool reminder of music, the part it plays in humanity, in perception, and in history!
Amy Winehouse, Back to Black I am a sucker for female jazz vocals and Amy showed my generation what that sounded like. Lyrically, Amy understood the human condition and she made it sound full and jazzy. At this point in her career, she was limitless, and you can hear it and you can feel it. Every song is a story and it makes the album feel like life. I also totally lost my virginity to this album.
Francis and the Lights, Farewell, Starlite! This is my recent discovery. This album found me during a bit of a lonely time and made me feel a lot less lonely. It’s so full of love and it kind of reminds me of Phil Collins. The songs just make me cry—both sad tears and happy tears. I cried at the gym while listening to it and I couldn’t have cared less. Destroying expected masculine behavior at the gym while simultaneously discovering new music; priceless.