Author Archives: Special to TVD

Alanna Clarke,
The TVD First Date

“In 1969, in Montreal, my father purchased a Lenco L75 turntable and a Sony Amp (STR 6050). Sound quality has always been of the upmost importance to my Dad, whether he was at one of my shows critiquing the sound-man, or choosing the best speakers or headphones for listening to music. The turntable was set up in the living room of my childhood home in Calgary and my Dad more than likely told me not to touch it. Both of us vaguely remember a time when I was around four that he showed me how to play a record but it turned into a scratchy noisy experience and that was the end of that!”

“While my Dad was the sound quality expert, my mom had the music collection. Nancy Sinatra records, The Jackson Five’s ABC, a favourite was Elton John’s 2 record set of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. On my mom’s particular copy, the song “Bennie And The Jets” had a certain point where it would skip because the record was scratched—I still think of when I listen to the song.

One of my favourite memories is of a show I played where a fan brought a gift for me and it was a gorgeous vinyl record of Judy Garland’s Collectors Items. I don’t have a record player so I still have yet to listen to it, but it’s one of my most treasured gifts!

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Her Habits,
The TVD First Date

“I’m alphabetizing my record collection.”

“This means monopolizing the living room floor with stacks laid out in a chaotic miniature skyline, the urban planning of a madwoman. A bowl of popcorn, handwritten sticky labels and a Sharpie populate the streets of this makeshift megalopolis. Sweet men chatting on the sofa tip-toe through my record heaps when making trips to the kitchen for more snacks. It feels familiar, ritualistic, and focused… all that vinyl embodies for me.

This reorganization is shaping up to be a long night. Would filing by genre be the superior formula? Too late now. I’ve painted myself into a corner, stranded in the middle of a township I rashly built in the spent embers of a Friday dusk. Taking each album into my hands, I consider its origin. Time capsules like these recall the vanities of adolescence, the giddiness of long-lost intoxications and the creak of derailed lust. They reanimate ideas hidden away in storage.

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Hidden In The Sun,
The TVD First Date
& Vinyl Giveaway

“Listening to vinyl has become “holy” ritual, a personal passion, and even a part of my profession.”

“Touring around America, I have been able to listen to vinyl in various environments on many different systems. When the right environment, a good stereo, and the perfect record all come together, it’s like time stops. I’m forced to put aside what I’m doing, be in the moment, and just listen. George Jones and Hank Williams on a Silvertone in Joshua Tree, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones through an RCA console in Austin, Clyde Murphy (The Gospel Singing Coal Miner) on a Califone in West Virginia. These experiences, and many of my most profound music listening experiences, have centered around vinyl.

My earliest memories of vinyl are from my childhood, when my mom would play records from her collection on Sunday mornings. I would wake up those Sunday mornings to Jazz or Classical music coming from our living room. The sounds of artists like Dave Brubeck and Stan Getz, or composers like Bach and Dvořák would fill our home.

My interest in music started as early as I can remember, and I recall laying on our living room floor and listening with curiosity while pouring over the artwork of these records. Though I grew up in the Bible Belt of Tulsa, Oklahoma, we were not a particularly religious family. But through this weekly Sunday morning ritual, I began to associate vinyl with a holy day, as something special. While many people were sitting in church, we were listening to records. And these listening experiences became to me “holy” ritual, a ritual that has continued on for me into my adult years, as vinyl developed into a personal passion, and even a part of my profession.

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André Costello
and the Cool Minors,
The TVD First Date

“…Andrew Bird’s Break It Yourself has this upbeat sort of charm to it, but dives into this murky, almost oceanic, orchestral thing he does with his loops. The recordings are so honest, that you can hear the clicking as he builds the loops at the beginning of some of the songs. He has this ability to jump from a classical violinist to a foot-stomping fiddle player, all the while staying classy as all hell.”

“Since it’s release, I’ve spent a lot of time with this album. The crispness is a sound that wanted to emulate at some on The Rattling Arcade, and I feel we’ve touched on it with “Steady Loaded People,” but especially in the single “Way of the Future,” recorded in the same session.

Grizzly Bear’s Yellow House is one of those albums that for me, changed my entire outlook on music. The songs are so strange, but still have this buried accessibility. The vagueness of the lyricism acts like free-agents, allowing the terms to stick in the mind, allowing the listener to paint their own portrait in their mind. I feel that when songs are specific as to meaning or narrative, they lose an amount of adoptability to the listener as far as ownership. Yellow House has so many dark undertones that fill out the album.

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Siv Jakobsen,
The TVD First Date

“My first experience with vinyl records must have been when I was quite young, maybe 10 or 11, sifting through an old box of records we had in the attic of my mom’s childhood home. She had collected a massive amount in her younger years, with everything from Simon and Garfunkel to Ella Fitzgerald. Unfortunately we’ve lost those records, but the experience of seeing all of them, dusty and old and beautiful, still sits with me today.”

“I can’t quite pin-point when I had my first listen through a vinyl player—I think I must have been quite young. I remember the beauty of the sound—it was old and nostalgic, in the best possible way. It reminds me of moments when I have time to just sit and listen—you can’t really listen to a record “on the go,” so it forces you to relax and actually really, truly enjoy the music.

It’s a wonderful counterpart to the way we usually listen these days—music being so easily accessible all the time, we hardly take the time to have a moment and listen, without being on our way somewhere.

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Skye Steele,
The TVD First Date

“When I was 19 I was a student at the New School and I was living and working at the Marlton Hotel, an old Greenwich Village SRO on 8th Street that was infamous for (among other things) having been the place where Valerie Solanas lived when she shot Warhol. The Village had already changed a lot when I got there, but still we had a few old-timers from the factory days hanging around at the Marlton, mostly decomposing on their feet. I lived on the second floor and had one window with a heavy-duty burglar gate on it that looked out onto a side alley with the next building six feet away. When I moved in, my girlfriend gave me a fern that I hung from the burglar bars. It was dead in a month. As fall wore down into winter and the days got shorter it felt like I was living at the bottom of a stagnant pond silting over from the top down.”

“We broke up that winter. I was in love with this girl–we’d known each other since high school and we both moved from California to NYC at the same time–but I fucked it up bad. She was uptown having an IVY league experience at Barnard while I was living very, very downtown. She was a genius scholar, a good writer, and MTV-gorgeous. I was new in town, zealous, looking for beatnik adventures. This 30-year-old Argentine fashion designer who lived across the hall took an interest in me and I got all wrapped up. I cheated on my hometown girl. I was just mannish enough to come clean, but in the most pitiful whimpering way you can imagine. That was the end of all that.

So a bad fall moldered into a bad winter, and I was digging way down into a self-flagellating depression that was amplified by everything about my living situation. The room was so small I put my mattress underneath the bed-frame and laid cardboard over the springs so I would have a space to work, prepare food, and for the beat-to-shit thrift-store turntable I dragged with me across the country. The only place to sit was a ramshackle leather office chair I found on the street that I leaned up in a corner beside the window cause it was missing a wheel and would tip over anywhere else. I would just sit there all night listening to Leonard Cohen Isle of Wight, smoking out the window in my dirty salvation-army coat, pretending to read, but really just staring.

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My Big Star Story
by John Fry

Word has made its way to our office today that legendary Ardent Studios founder and producer John Fry has passed away in Memphis. “The 69 year-old Fry died on Thursday afternoon at Methodist East hospital, where he was taken after suffering a cardiac arrest at his Germantown home,” the Commercial Appeal has reported.

Mr. Fry was an early and vigorous proponent of the website you’re reading at present and it’s with heavy hearts we remember him with his own recollections today, as published here on March 29, 2010.
—Ed.

One day in 1968, I walked into my office to find a young man still in his teens, seated in my chair, with his boots propped up on my desktop, smoking a cigarette. Once I relocated him, I learned that he was Chris Bell. I would soon meet Andy Hummel, as the two, along with Steve Rhea, were starting to join the after-hours recording crew at Ardent. I already knew Alex Chilton from his visits to Ardent for Box Tops overdub and mixing sessions. A bit later I would meet Jody Stephens as he joined Chris and Andy on drums when Steve left for college.

Of course, there would be no Big Star band until a few years later, but this day is as good as any to mark the start of a journey that Alex, Andy, Chris, Jody, and I would wind up taking together. That journey has been well described in several different formats. The life stories of the individuals involved would progress in ways that none of us could have envisioned.

For me, the experiences included getting to participate in the recording and release of music I loved then and still love now, the bitter feeling of total commercial failure in the Memphis ashes of 1975, an early morning phone call in 1978 with bad news, and the ultimate acceptance of the music by generations of fans and musicians, many unborn at the time it was recorded.

Recounting some recent events may express my feelings better than talking about the distant past. Fast forward to 2008. Jody Stephens shouts from his office across the hall from mine “Hey, we’ve got a show in London on August 28.” My response is, “I’m going.”

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Springh,
The TVD First Date

“I have always been a vinyl fan since I was a small child, except for a small act of wanton destruction when at the age of 4. I apparently drew all over my stepfather’s vintage Grateful Dead collection which makes me cringe thinking about it. I sincerely hope that my future children do not do the same to me. Happily, the surviving records acted as a soundtrack throughout my childhood and I was always intrigued by the colourful sleeves that I wasn’t allowed to touch.”

“Later in life I discovered the joy of vinyl myself. I love the ritual of removing the record from its sleeve and the smell, particularly when it is new. I like watching the deck spin up and enjoy the crackle before the music starts.

It feels so far removed from the modern-day accessibility of endless Spotify and Soundcloud playlists where music can be very much a background experience to be passively enjoyed whilst doing other things. Vinyl is an active experience where you have to stay involved in listening because, if you are lucky enough to keep control of the record deck, you have to be ready to change to the next record.

Though I do love the sound, I can’t chime in on the sound fidelity—vinyl vs CD issue—as my favourite format in this respect is the cassette tapes of my youth which are particularly suited to Nirvana albums. Vinyl for me is very much about the experience of listening, it forces the listener to engage physically with the music. It is also finite so it is not possible to jump between songs as much as is possible online which makes it more likely that you will listen to that pesky b-side.

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Sofia,
The TVD First Date

“My Dad has an enormous vinyl collection and I remember being old enough to understand what they were and realizing how cool it is that he still has them, and in pristine condition, I must say.”

“He’s got a really extensive collection including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Woodstock Era records, Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, and that’s to name a few. Before he left Lebanon after the war broke out, he also had his parents’ collection, which have been lost with all the Jazz greats like Etta James, Nat King Cole, and Louis Armstrong.

It’s a real shame that some of those were lost, but I know he remembers all of them fondly. He loves to tell me stories about how he would go to the local record shops when he was a teenager and spend hours deciding which record would be the latest addition to his collection, back then they would sometimes have as little as ten records to chose from! It’s a big difference to the infinite amount of music we can now access on the internet, with just a click of a button.

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Jameson,
The TVD First Date

“I didn’t listen to vinyl when I was growing up. I listened to the Beatles on cassette in my Dad’s car. I listened to Jimi Hendrix on CD in my room for hours trying to learn how to play guitar. Then when I was about 16 my friend showed up at my house with a copy of The Police, The Singles on vinyl that he had bought at a garage sale for a dollar. He knew I was a big fan of Sting and The Police, and he just handed it to me and said, ‘Check this out, it’s a REAL album!’ In my head I thought, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve heard about these.'”

“We took it over to my grandfather’s house (the only person we knew who had a record player) and cranked it up. His 1950s California ranch-style home had a speaker in every room; when the drums kicked in on “Roxanne” I felt like I got punched in the chest. The sound had this richness and texture I had never heard before…I fell in love right away.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I got my own turntable and started buying vinyl of my own. I bought a fresh new copy of OK Computer (one my favourite albums of all time), but otherwise it was all thrift store finds: Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, Pink Floyd The Wall, Tom Petty, some Bjork, some Tom Waits stuff.

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