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Love at first listen: Albums that shaped your lives

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(CNN) -- It was the late 1960s and Tom Repasky was in a fog.

Sal Steels feels the same way that he did 20 years ago when he listens to Van Halen's "1984."

H. Michael Karshis owns thousands of albums but Steely Dan's "Can't Buy a Thrill" holds a special place in his heart.

"I was trying to discover who I was, what I was and what I was doing here," he said.

In 1963, at age 14, Repasky was on a field trip with his seminary when he and another student accidentally fell down a steep ledge while throwing rocks at upperclassmen. A tree broke his friend's fall, but Repasky was not so lucky.

Repasky awoke in the hospital, but says he was unable to remember even the smallest detail of his past. "It was as if I didn't exist before that time," he said.

This experience scarred him, to the point that he was asked to leave the seminary by the end of the year. "I clearly was not the same person," he said. "After my near-death experience, there was this prolonged period of not being able to relate to reality very well."

Several years after his accident, Repasky first heard the Moody Blues song "Nights in White Satin." "After I heard these lyrics, I thought, 'They know what I'm feeling.' "

He sought out their album "Days of Future Passed." He was particularly drawn to the lyrics from their song "Dawn is a Feeling:" "You are here today; no future fears; this day will last 1,000 years, if you want it to."

Repasky, who now lives in Danville, Pennsylvania, and is an artist, often goes back to this album. "When I hear the music, it brings me to the point of realizing that I had experienced life and I could be alive, and it brings me great joy in knowing that." The part of "Nights in White Satin" where the words "I love you" are repeated always moves Repasky, even 40 years later. iReport.com: Watch Repasky tell his story

Repasky is one of many iReporters who shared the album that first hooked them and has stayed with them throughout their lives.

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H. Michael Karshis owns about 3,200 albums, but one holds a special place in his heart: "Can't Buy a Thrill" by Steely Dan.

Even though his mother worked in a record store in 1973 (which helps explain the number of albums he owns), "Can't Buy a Thrill" was the first one he bought with his own money, at the age of 12. "Reelin' in the Years" was the song that hooked him.

"It's almost an ode to a distant past," he said. "I remember listening to that before I was 17 and thinking about how old 17 was. It has a different connotation and meaning the older you get, but it's still a poignant, relevant song."

Whenever Karshis moves into a new home, one of the first things he does is to crank up the stereo and play the album.

"It's just one of those timeless albums and it's hard to describe how it affects me."

Karshis, who works as a graphic artist in San Antonio, Texas, thinks the cover of the album has influenced his artwork. "I'm not saying I got it all from the Steely Dan cover, but it's amazing how it permeates everything I do now." iReport.com: Karshis talks about one album in his massive collection

Sal Steels of Denver, Colorado, first rocked out to Van Halen's album "1984" about 20 years ago, and hasn't stopped since. In fact, he demonstrated the way he feels when the song "Panama" starts in a video for iReport.com.

For Steels, "1984" is "one of those you have in the car. It's one you make a backup CD for." He listens to it constantly and considers "Panama" his favorite song of all time. iReport.com: Sal Steels rocks out to Van Halen

Not all iReporters listen to their most influential album regularly. Diane Holder of Ann Arbor, Michigan, had fond memories of Pink Floyd's "The Wall," but it had been a while since she had heard it.

"Twice before, I went back and looked at something that I cherished as a memory from my childhood, [and] the results were not very good," she said.

Despite her hesitation, she listened to the album online. In this case, she was pleasantly surprised by how well it stood the test of time, and she ended up downloading the whole thing.

"For me, that is remarkable. I can count on my fingers the albums I have bought."

Jill Pearson of Atlanta, Georgia, is such a fan of Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" that she created a video quiz for the iReport.com community.

Pearson has been going back to the album off and on for years. "It takes me back to my college days and he's just one of my favorite performers," she said. iReport.com: Take the Elton John quiz

For some iReporters, one album opened their eyes to something new.

Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" was not the first album Tony Bernez bought, but he considers it an important work, not just for himself, but for his generation.

He considers it "one of the most ground-breaking, consciousness-raising and inspiring concept albums of its time, or any other time, for that matter."

"It marked a transcendent change from the Motown R&B songs that Marvin had previously released, and it spoke to the pain, injustice, and uncertainty of the turbulent 1960s and early 1970s," he said. "I just listened to it yesterday, and it still moves me in a very special way."

For Lulis Leal, one album completely changed her philosophy of life. She had not been exposed to Rush's music before their ninth album, "Signals," was released, but when she heard the song "Subdivisions," Neal Peart's drumming had her hooked.

Leal listened to more of Rush's music and soon learned that the band was influenced by author Ayn Rand. After reading her novels, Leal began to adapt Rand's philosophy into her own life.

Fred Thorne was a big fan of much of the popular music of the 1980s when he was 14, but the moment he heard R.E.M.'s song "Fall on Me" on alternative radio, he was determined to own the album "Life's Rich Pageant."

After buying not just one, but three R.E.M. albums, his musical tastes changed forever. Thorne went on to play in bands for 18 years.

"If you ask me, R.E.M. is the godfather of indie sound." iReport.com: Fred Thorne pays tribute to R.E.M.

Whether it's nostalgia, an appreciation of great songwriting, or even a life-changing experience, music has certainly done a lot to help these iReporters throughout their lives.

"Music can be that one thing that can bring a bright spot to anyone's life," said iReporter Crystal Dickson. "Where would we be without it?"

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