HomeCultureRecords That Changed My Life

Jason Gould: Records that changed my life

Jason Gould: Records that changed my life
Singer-songwriter Jason Gould talks to us about the records that have changed his life, spanning from soul and disco to jazz fusion and folk rock
Jason Gould is an American singer-songwriter, performer and former actor. As the son of Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould, he has been surrounded by creativity his entire life: he appeared in films like Say Anything... and The Prince of Tides before pivoting to a career in music.
His latest EP, Sacred Days, will be released on March 22. You can watch the video for one of the songs on the record, "World Gone Crazy", here. Jason talks to us about the five records that he believes have changed his life.

Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder

The album cover for Songs In The Key of Life by Stevie Wonder: a series of cascading orange rings with Stevie's face aglow in a white centre
I remember hearing this in the car, driving on the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles with my father in the mid-1970s. I was obsessed with the song "Sir Duke", but every song on this double album is a masterpiece and Stevie is the ultimate. So inspired.
"His humanity, spirit and love are imbued in every note and lyric"
His humanity, his spirit and his love are imbued in every note and lyric. It's really one of the great albums of all time, in my opinion.

Ghost in the Machine by The Police

The album cover of the album Ghost in the Machine by the band The Police: red digital numbers glitching on a black background
I discovered The Police in high school. This album was on repeat on my Walkman, as I lay in bed feeling like a loner, not knowing where I belonged in this world.
I didn’t know that reggae, jazz fusion and rock could intermingle. Haunting melodies. Political. Rebellious. Stewart Copeland's drumming, Sting’s voice, Andy Summers' guitar. Every song was a journey. It was an introduction to adulthood for sure.

Bad Girls by Donna Summer

The blue album cover of Bad Girls by Donna Summer: Donna looks to the camera in the foreground, while in the background she stands next to a lamppost with a policeman behind it
When I was 11 years old in the late 1970s, my friend and I were obsessed with Donna Summer, and this album was full of amazing songs.  Donna was an original: fierce, confident, beautiful. Her voice was so inviting—like an old friend.
We saw her in concert at the Greek Theatre in Hollywood. I remember Paul Jabara, who wrote "Last Dance" and "Enough is Enough" with Bruce Roberts, called my mum’s house one evening when I answered the phone.
"Donna's voice was so inviting—like an old friend"
He said, "Would you like your mother to record a song with Donna Summer?", and I said “Yeah!". We got to watch them record that song in the studio, which was very cool.

Tea for the Tillerman by Yusuf/Cat Stevens

The album cover of Tea for the Tillerman by Yusuf/Cat Stevens: a drawing of a countryside setting where a tillerman with a red beard and a green hat sits at a table and drinks tea, while children climb a tree next to him
I think my cousin played this album for me when we were teenagers. There’s something so pure and unvarnished and unaffected about his lyrics and melodies and voice.
It's like getting a lesson about life from a trusted father figure: something I was craving. These songs are classic and poignant and deeply insightful about life and humanity. 

Lady in Satin by Billie Holliday

The album cover of Lady in Satin by Billie Holliday: side profile of Billie Holliday in front of a blue background
I didn’t really discover Billie Holiday until I was in my twenties. I remember seeing Lady Sings the Blues with Diana Ross as a kid, but it wasn’t until I heard Lady in Satin that I really got the artistry of Billie Holliday.
So soulful and wise—the kind of wisdom only a tremendous amount of pain can generate. I heard it in her voice and I felt it. "Strange Fruit" indeed.
"So soulful and wise—the kind of wisdom only a tremendous amount of pain can generate"
Interestingly I didn’t know my mother had admired this album until I read her autobiography. But I gave her the CD for her birthday in 1990 when she was preparing to film The Prince of Tides. She ended up using the song "For All We Know” in that movie, and I ended up recording a version of it myself.  
Jason's new EP Sacred Days is out March 22. 
Banner photo: Jason Gould tells us the records that have changed his life (credit: Gene Reed)
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...