“I have never really been particular about what I use to listen to music. Cassettes, CDs, MP3s, anything really works to get the song across. However, there is something really enticing about holding a huge piece of art that stimulates the listener visually in addition to the sonic elements of music, and that is what I love about vinyl.”
“There are definitely memories I have listening to vinyl at my house in the Bay Area. I remember growing up and my Dad always playing lots of Grateful Dead records because he is one of those guys who has seen the Grateful Dead like 30 times. We are going to see Dead & Co. for his birthday in July, which is going to be a fun family affair.
I also remember discovering The Harder They Come on vinyl in my Dad’s collection, which has become one of my favorite albums of all time featuring Jimmy Cliff, Toots & The Maytals, and more reggae legends.
“When we first moved to Nashville I went to visit my good friend’s record store, Grimey’s. As a new artist to the city, I wanted to know what was happening in the local music scene besides the banjos and honky-tonk songs I heard down on Broadway.”
“Grimey’s turned me onto a local band called The Bees (now known as The Silver Seas). As soon as I got in the car and heard the song “Starry Gazey Pie,” I was inspired. I wanted to write melodies like this and write with the people creating melodies like this. After getting to know the singer Daniel Tashian over the years, I finally asked him to work with me on an album…10 years and 10 albums later.
Record stores have always been my place to go to find new music. Now in the world there are so many outlets, but nothing beats conversations with the people working in the stores that know more than we could ever know about new bands, old bands, different trends, and sounds, etc.
“I have gone on before about certain records in my dad’s record collection—The Buddy Holly Story, Elvis’ second LP, Ray Charles’ Genius + Soul = Jazz, Beach Boys’ Endless Summer, to name a few—but I wanted write about my experience with a certain 45: Jackson Browne’s ‘Runnin’ on Empty.'”
“My parents divorced when I was around twelve years old. Like a lot of ‘70s kids who went through this experience, I felt like my world had fallen apart. My mom and sister and I had moved to a new house in a new neighborhood. Everything was different. And I experienced a new emotion: sadness. Not the I-didn’t-get-what-I-wanted-for-Christmas kind of shallow surface sadness, but the my-world-has-irrevocably-changed-forever-and-there-is-nothing-I-can-do-about-it kind of deep sadness.
Maybe it was depression? My memories are so fuzzy I can barely remember. But I do remember holding the purple 45 in my hand. Bought at a garage sale, a tiny 25¢ sticker written in ballpoint. On the cover, a huge, clear drum set sitting in the middle of a western highway. Huge, open chords that sounded just like that open highway. Screaming lap steel, hitting notes that resonated in my soul. A man telling his story—looking back at his youth, wondering where to go from here. Empty tank of gas metaphor. The song expressed a fatalism tinged with a hobson’s choice of optimism that I had heretofore not experienced in music and lyric. It sounded like a sunset. It sounded like I felt.
“My sister Kelli was my first ‘music’ teacher. Being 7 years older than me and a teen right in the middle of the 1970s AND a huge music fan, she opened the door for me. I can remember as a girl walking into her bedroom where very loud and luring sounds were emanating. A somewhat typical story I imagine for those of us who had music centric older siblings.”
“I can remember a day very distinctly that she had “The Immigrant Song” blasting and was singing along. It went through me like an electric shock literally, scared me even and I did in fact think that it was surely the devil’s sound. I can remember seeing the B-52’s first album on the floor in all it’s glorious punk pop yellowness at the same moment. This is first time and place I can remember getting caught in the daze. It was like a switch went off inside me that has remained, very on. Home was found.
From there I started collecting in bits and pieces and can recall my first summer in London at age 13 just being in absolute heaven at the music cornucopia that pervaded that city. I was already a full on new wave and goth addict so London at that time, was a dream. On that trip I bought a number of records and one of my most cherished of all, which is a live album by Bauhaus called Press the Eject and Give me the Tape. It’s inner sleeve is long gone at this point, the outer has lost most of its glue and every time I hold it I am just filled with an avalanche of love, connection, and sweet memory. “Rose Garden Funeral of Sores” is my favorite track on there. I’m a big fan of Daniel Ash’s dissonant off kilter accents and that kind of style in general.
“My parents had divorced years prior, and I had been relocated from the musky soul of Nashville, Tennessee to the grim, stucco plastics of Southern California to resume my new life with my mother and her new husband.”
“Allotted trips back home to Music City U.S.A. started to grow thin, due to the distancing that happens when heartbroken people leave a geography they can no longer relate with, so I had taken to collecting backpacks and suitcases full of memorabilia from my old life, and transporting it back with the excitement of a smuggler.
During one particular load-up, deep into a blanketed southern summer in which all anyone can think of or talk about is the wet fire of humidity, I stumbled across a hidden record stack in the house of my grandfather as he was mowing the lawn and sneaking cigarettes behind the shed that kept his tractor. It was locked away in some ancient puzzle cabinetry that required a bit of intelligence and grace to open, but when it was finally cracked, a whole new world opened up to a young boy who had only known the country music roots of his father and of his own city.
“At risk of doing that whole ‘cryptic songwriter’ thing, I’d like to keep ‘Bella Tell’ open to interpretation. I don’t want to ruin the story. Sometimes I write songs based on very clear stories that were told to me, or that are known folklore, but this one is based on my own specific experiences and I wouldn’t want them to taint the listeners’ personal experience of the song based on their own histories. If I were to choose keywords for the song, though, they’d be these: RUCKUS, GUILE, GRIT, and DEBAUCHERY”
“Something I think quite a lot about is intention. Living at a time when things are constantly thrown at us, constantly changing, buzzing, flashing, it can be very easy to lose sight of intention. What vinyl represents for me is intentional listening. It’s an opportunity to break out of mindless scrolling and pressing buttons.
It’s delicate. It’s about listening to an album for the pure experience of it, rather than simply cutting the silence. It’s more than the listening too, isn’t it? It’s a full sensory experience—the smell of the record, the artwork, the feeling of it in your hands as you gently place it onto the player.
“I was born right at the end of the golden era of vinyl recordings but I remember, at an early age, sitting in my father’s bedroom listening to his vinyl records for hours on end. There were various artists like Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, Mike Oldfield, Stevie Wonder, Cat Stevens, and of course The Beatles.”
“A few years later The Beatles would become a huge influence in my life but by then I was more interested in painting the cover of Tubular Bells and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as photo realistic as possible, without much success. However, I do remember vinyl sounding extremely good, a different kind of depth and warmth compared to CD. Might be an afterthought, perhaps. I think that was the beginning of my lifelong interest in analog recording.
Me and my best friend used to record a rhythm track to one cassette tape and then play and sing to that recording while recording to another tape recorder. Then back to the first tape recorder with more instruments and so forth. When I was ten I bought a multitrack cassette tape recorder with four tracks. A huge improvement. I made countless demos on that one. Today I use a 24 track Studer tape machine.
“When I was little I used to steal my mom’s Walkman, so my parents bought me a toy cassette player. I used to record my own lyrics over tapes I found around the house, and I’m sure that somewhere in the detritus of my parents’ attic are tapes full of a five year old’s heartfelt songs about cats recorded over 1980s guitar solos.”
“Eventually my parents started giving me the tapes they didn’t want any more, and I loved having a collection of my own. I’d bring it to daycare to show it off alongside my tin of Pokémon cards, and was aghast when the teacher refused to play my Madonna cassette because she had deemed it inappropriate.
By the time I was 12 I had started to amass my own CD collection, but by then IPods had stepped onto the scene. I got an IPod shuffle for Christmas that year and loaded it up with all of my favorite tunes. My disappointment at not being able to easily select a song, let alone a whole album to listen to kept me going back to my CD player. I also liked being able to see the stack of CDs and cassettes on my dresser, a disorganized display of the evolution of my musical tastes.
“My friend Jeff and I were fourteen years old when we first started creating music from samples. This would be the beginning of a never-ending quest for sounds.”
“We would sample from anything, tapes, CDs, records, VHS—it didn’t matter. It helped that most of my friends and I could find stacks of vinyl in our attics or basements. There were a couple of used record stores on an avenue between our two houses. We dug exclusively in the dollar bins, buying records purely based on cover art.
I noticed that vinyl sounded different right away from looping break beats and riffs. I’d hear the space between each instrument, the dynamic range in the whole mix, the thumpy low end and scratchy highs.
“My first experience with records was rather schizophrenic. The music I first remember hearing that actually stayed with me was the Sound of Music soundtrack and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. You couldn’t get two more diametrically opposed albums if you tried.”
“I remember sneaking into my older brother’s room while he was out and playing Dark Side of the Moon (he had his own record player) and gazing in wonder at the mysterious cover art and the pyramid poster on the wall. The music had the same effect on me: mysterious, strange, compelling.
And yet an other day my mother could put the Sound of Music or The Best of Abba or Glen Campbell on the turntable and I’d be equally as enthralled and transported to another place.