“Other than the love of my parents, at the age of 4 or so, I think I had never experienced deep love for someone or something until I listened to Sting’s Ten Summoner’s Tales.”
“Over and over my parents played this album, so over and over I listened and memorized and marinated in the shimmering sounds, quirky intervals, time signatures that challenged my childhood steps, unforgettable vocal melodies, and the glistening arrangements, without knowing that was what I was doing. Honestly, I was very, very young at the time. But the listening ignited a love and a hunger in me, a voracious appetite for beautiful melodies and intricate musical stylings, always seeking unordinary lyrics to explain my own thoughts and questions.
For a long time I didn’t really understand the experience that had been put in front of me. I just learned that album from front to back, learning to love it. To this day, that album is one of my all time favorites and Sting still resides as my favorite musician of all time. And to this day, I style my own compositions, arrangements, and lyrics with as much love as that album first ignited in me.
“I grew up on vinyl. The first record I remember loving was in 1968 when I was 5. The song “Tequila” by The Champs sent me and my little sister into a naked dancing frenzy, jumping up and down on the furniture. We played it over and over until we collapsed.”
“My step-dad bought me a used little record player with built-in speakers that came with stacks of 7” singles. My favorites were “Tip Toe Through The Tulips” by Tiny Tim, “I Feel The Earth Move” by Carol King, and “Those Were The Days” by Mary Hopkin.
My parents didn’t live together, but they both owned a lot of albums. Neither of them were into pop or rock music. I considered my mom’s records mine as well. She was really into folk and had all the early Dylan records, Simon & Garfunkel, Judy Collins. She also loved Jacques Brel and Edith Piaf and Ray Charles, Bo Diddley and Billie Holiday. And I loved all of these records with her.
My dad was into classical and jazz but he knew the Beatles were good and gave me all of their albums. My favorite was Abbey Road. Later, my dad was the musical directer of Jesus Christ Superstar on broadway and I loved the cast album along with Hair and Godspell.
“The first record I ever bought was ABBA’s eponymously titled album. I was 14 and I listened, enraptured, to ‘Mama Mia’ over and over and over again. Now I have a bigger collection of albums that I listen to on my little Crosley suitcase-record player. It’s been with me for the past five years and it turns every space I’m in into a home. I don’t like to listen to MP3s—they’ll do in a pinch if I need something fast, but they don’t feed my soul the way a vinyl record does. Music sounds different on vinyl; more alive, more present, more sacred. More real. With vinyl, the act of putting on a record becomes an interaction instead of a one-way kind of consumption.
When I have it my way, vinyl is all that I have. It’s more of an effort to get the music I want on vinyl, and it takes more time, but there’s also that element of finding music that you didn’t even know you needed. I always look through the bins at secondhand stores and garage sales. For some reason, there are always ten times more Johnny Mathis records than any other in those bins. Can someone tell me why? I have a few, just because it seems like a prerequisite to a record collection. And I feel bad for all of the orphaned Johnny Mathis records. They’re great.
“I don’t think I appreciated the artistry behind an album until I started collecting vinyl.”
“One of my friends had boxes of records he wanted to get rid of before he moved to a different state and he dumped them at my house and I got to look through – judging an album by it’s cover was always fun and spinning the mysterious ones was enjoyable too. Not to mention, the album art of the seventies is just so amazing. (Can we talk about Captain and Tenille?)
I proceeded to steal a bunch of vinyl classics from my parents and then finally became a regular at neighborhood record stores. I bought modern and vintage records and some would come with surprises. I got a Simon and Garfunkel record that came with an absolutely brilliant double exposure poster of the two of them with the 59th street bridge. And I absolutely loved Radiohead’s In Rainbows packaging. I love the hands-on experience of vinyl and the opportunity for bolder artwork choices.
“My first memory of vinyl is my Grandpa’s collection of old classical albums which I had no appreciation for at the time, but I remember being fascinated by how it all worked.”
“My Grandpa use to be quite unfriendly and intimidating when I was young, I was actually terrified of him. I knew he wouldn’t let me mess with the record player so I would always wait until he wasn’t around and then I’d try to figure it out. I got away with it a few times, but seeing as classical music wasn’t doing it for me at my young age, I eventually lost interest.
It wasn’t until my late teens that my love for vinyl truly began. I grew up in Florida which as everyone knows is full of old people. One good thing about that is the thrift stores are always full of vintage clothes and vinyl. I bought my first vinyl at a thrift store for something like 25 cents. Fly Like an Eagle by the Steve Miller Band. Pretty sure I listened to it on my roommate’s record player every morning for a year. There’s no better way to start off your day than sipping on some coffee and listening to a great album on vinyl.
“My first date? Well, she was stunningly beautiful, that was plain for all to see. The first time I saw her I thought, I’m way too young for this, way out of my depth. I wanted to walk away but couldn’t. Clearly, she had my number and being older she knew exactly what she was doing. She looked and smelled exotic, exciting. From the time we touched I was spellbound.”
“Over time as our relationship developed, her outlandish beauty became less relevant. I was completely besotted and in turn obsessed with what was on the inside. Her appearance became meaningless as I began to understand her more and more.
Still, I could never understand how she could be so blindingly brilliant most of time and so flippant and throw-away at others. Did she have a level disdain for me? In the end, I decided the best way to handle the flippancy whenever it started was to simply turn off.
Not surprisingly given my age at the time, I did not remain true to her. At times I ignored her completely for long periods while I spent time with others. Ours was not an exclusive relationship but what was ours was ours, unique.
Perhaps I have been guilty of not standing up for her at times. People have said on occasions that they don’t really like her and I have remained silent. In my defence though, to not like her seems such a ludicrous proposition to be undeserving of a serious response.
“Back then, I was on my way to Greece, but somehow wound up in Spain on the tiny island of Formentera. The boat docked on Ibiza, but when we pulled in at 6:00 in the morning, the port was awash with people selling tee shirts and ecstasy, and Neil Young was blasting from a local bar. Peace be to Neil Young, I must have 20 of his albums, but I’d gone off traveling for silence and solitude, wind, sand, and stars. I got back on the boat.”
“Where do you dock next?”
It sounded perfect.
I found a little house in the middle of a pine grove, a twenty-minute walk to town. No running water. No electricity. Eight dollars a week. I couldn’t believe my luck. The people I rented from couldn’t believe theirs. No savvy travelers were paying more than $5. I didn’t care. I was home.
“Being as this is a first date, I would of course ask my date about his or her own opinions of, and experiences with the black stuff. I would listen attentively, making approving noises to highlight their great taste. Then I would launch into the following monologue:”
“My living space is 6′ wide and at points vinyl takes up 5’5” of this so, yes, it’s quite a big deal. It started with a flexidisc. To be more specific, a flexidisc of whale songs when I was about 7. Then I started stealing records off my sister’s boyfriend—in particular I was very impressed by a King Crimson bootleg call Earthbound, because the cover was entirely black.
My first records gotten through more honest means were mainly thrash metal, particularly Reign in Blood by Slayer, from which I learnt some exciting new ways to swear, and a few Chicago blues classics by Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon, folks like that. These were all charity-shop purchases, I think—I’ve generally been too skint to buy them new, and they smell more interesting second-hand. Actually my favourite thing of all is when stoned students have drawn on the white inner sleeve jobby—often found in Jimi Hendrix albums. I have an amazing biro portrait of him on one, flanked by angels, with the names of various blues greats appearing in thought bubbles about his head. Groovy.
“I didn’t know you when I was younger, because I didn’t know you existed. All I had was a white square thing with a guy sitting next to a pink giraffe named Stephen Stills.
I didn’t know what you were, when I was younger but, when I found you, tucked away in my Dad’s old boxes hidden up in the garage, I loved you. It was like I had found a precious heirloom that I had to protect. I hid you under my mattress for years. Granted, I mostly hid you because I was afraid to tell my Dad that I had gone through his boxes in the attic, but, that’s neither here nor there. You were beautiful and I didn’t have to play you on a record player to know your worth.
I would take you out every so often and stare at you, wondering what machinery I’d have to get to bring you to life, but honestly, you were beautiful just the way you were.
After Dad died, I put you on my desk, as a piece of art. You looked so prestigious and important. More than that, you reminded me of him in a way that no one else could. You were a part of his youth and now, a part of his youth is with me.
“‘Til this day, every time I see pink and yellow paired together, I can hear it: the angry, driving kick drum that introduced the world to the Sex Pistols via Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols’ opener ‘Holiday In The Sun.'”
“I was twelve-years-old, quietly ransacking my uncle’s basement for something incriminating to read or play with when I stumbled upon his well-concealed, immaculately kept record collection. I combed through shelves of vinyl, studying the names, the faces, and the artwork until I finally found one that peaked my interest. I remember grimacing at the word “sex” plastered across the lemon backdrop as I plucked it out of place. I scanned the room to make sure I was still alone and tiptoed over to my uncle’s record player—a machine I had seen in movies, but never in real life. After fumbling with it for a moment, the raspy fuzz kicked in and I panicked, thinking I had broken it.
Panic shifted to genuine confusion as soon as the music came blaring through the built-in speakers. The frantic guitars, Rotten’s unhinged vocals, the speed—it was chaos. Perfect fucking chaos.
By the end of “No Feelings,” the Pistols had me hooked. Unfortunately, my revelation was interrupted when I heard my uncle rumbling down the stairs. I instinctively jabbed at the machine in an attempt to silence it, but it was too late. I avoided eye-contact as I waited for my uncle to scold me for going through his shit, however, instead of addressing my failure to adhere to any sort of personal boundaries, he high-fived me and shouted, ‘The Pistols! Man, I love that record.’