This week I've mostly been listening to Everclear's Sparkle and Fade. God knows why; sometimes you just want to hear the songs you loved when you were a teenager before forgetting about them for another five years. (It's still a great album though.)
Anyway, my thesis is that around 99% of gamers started playing when they were between the ages of 11 and 14, and since this is usually the period of your life when you are also seriously starting to get into music, the two - RPGs and music - tend to get linked together in an inextricable way in the mind, so that just as certain smells remind you very strongly of certain incidents in your life, certain songs and albums remind you of gaming and vice versa. Here are mine:
1. Incesticide by Nirvana. We played the hell out of this tape while playing nightly (nightly!) sessions of Cyberpunk 2020 circa 1994, in my friend's attic bedroom. I was never the hugest Nirvana fan, which is weird seeing as I sucked up everything all the other grunge bands had to over, but this one was great. I can still listen to it start to finish even now.
2. Generation Terrorists by THe Manic Street Preachers. My big sister was really into the Manics, so by extension I was too, because I thought (wrongly) that she was cool. There's something about NatWestBarclaysMidlandsLloyds that gets me wanting to roll d20s to this day.
3. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by the Smashing Pumpkins. When you're a kid living in boring suburban Northern England with no money and nothing to do, you need something like this album to show you that somewhere in the world there are people who have ambition to rise above. D&D performs a similar function.
4. OK Computer by Radiohead. This was the biggest album of the 90s, probably, at least in Britain. I remember playing it on cassette over and over again while a friend and I studied Planescape manuals when we should have been revising for our GCSEs; Tony Diterlizzi and Thom Yorke will forever be tied together in my mind.
5. Tiger Bay by Saint Etienne. We used to game in my room when I was about 13, and music from this album could often be heard in the background floating down from my sister's room, which was directly overheard. There is something highly incongruous about listening to Hug My Soul while pretending to be an elf killing a grell, but it was a regular occurrence round my house in the mid 90s.