Author Archives: Special to TVD

Castle Black,
The TVD First Date

“My older brother and my dad both had extensive record collections when I was growing up. My dad loved Christmas albums, so we had this really weird and random collection of Christmas albums from a really disparate group of artists. He would blast The Beach Boys Christmas Album on Christmas Eve, and while I usually really disliked holiday music, that album was kind of okay. He also had a very large Elvis collection, so it was very common to come into our house and hear those records playing.”

“My brother’s collection was more interesting to me—lots of Rolling Stones, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Ogden Edsl. I think the first records I owned as a kid were probably Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Twisted Sister’s Stay Hungry. (I never remember the album name Stay Hungry, I just usually describe it as that gross album cover where he is eating that bone.)

I didn’t maintain a record collection when I moved to NYC. I admire people who can do it here as space is really limited, and collections get heavy to move around as you move apartments frequently as one often does here. I have some friends who spin records and have amazing collections. There are also a good number of DJs still playing records all around who draw a kind of cult following. I was in Berlin a few years ago at this cool local bar in Kreuzberg, and it was packed with locals to hear two DJs spinning records side by side, really rare ’60s and ’70s stuff. The energy was unparalleled and has stuck in my mind about the power of records to this day.

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BAUM,
The TVD First Date

“Imagine the height of teen angst. I looked like a big ’80s phony, smelled like cigarettes, and I was 15 years old. The year I truly discovered vinyl was the year I was introduced to Kierkegaard and had my first kiss. Patti Smith and The Velvet Underground had lyrics practically built into the sidewalk pavement of the East Village and I was determined to find them.”

“I grew up on 51st and 5th in midtown Manhattan. I went to school on the Upper East Side, where vinyl records definitely did not get lots of love and attention. Each weekend, however, I took the train downtown and got off by Chelsea Market, heading towards the little record stand in the back flea market. There was something so romantic about winter time, getting a vegetable soup at Bubby’s, walking on some cobblestone, and chatting with the French man who ran the record shop in the market. At first, this is what it was all about for me—the experience of going to buy the records. I was traveling back in time to meet my idols and doing so in what felt like a dream.

Not long after I started my new weekend ritual, my dad dug up his old record player. I was able to listen to my favorite album, The Rolling Stones’ Tattoo You, in tangible form which brought a new sense of life to the music I had loved for so long. I went to the record stores in the village and started buying my favorites: What’s Going On, Songs In The Key of Life, Horses. Caring for the records physically, protecting them, being meticulous about the way they were positioned on the shelf, validated my love for the music on a new level and created a bond.

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Boo Ray,
The TVD First Date

“There’ve been a few different record collections that’ve had an impact on me. My cousin Buck’s a rock & roll aficionado/record collector and stayed with us one summer. I was 12 and Buck was 18 or so, and he showed me how to turn on the amp, how to handle the records, how to move the tonearm and drop the stylus, and told me “don’t touch the EQ!” That’s where I first heard The Allman Brothers, Thin Lizzy, Rod Stewart, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Who, and Tom Petty.”

“The way he inspected the records and read the liner notes as the behind the scenes story of each record captured my attention. Everything about it all seemed important to me. The first three songs on side 2 of his Cheap Trick Live At Budokan album knocked me out. I loved the big dramatic intro on “Ain’t That A Shame.”

A couple of girlfriends have turned me onto important music on vinyl too. My friend Marie in NYC has a great collection and turned me onto JJ Cale, Chris Whitley, Gordon Lightfoot, Jackson Brown, Gerry Rafferty, and Townes Van Zandt. My friend Julia in Los Angeles has an excellent 45 rpm single collection and turned me onto Jeff Beck, Robin Trower, Albert Lee, Roberta Flack, Bobby Womack, and Allen Toussaint.

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Lee DeWyze,
The TVD First Date

“If it wasn’t for vinyl, I wouldn’t be a songwriter.”

“Sundays were my father’s day off.
It was a day of yard work, Bears games, and music.
The record player sat in the corner of the room.
It was one of my father’s prized possessions.
The wooden case stood about as tall as me, and next to it, my dad’s favorite albums.

His small collection of records next to the player was nothing compared to his workroom, which had shelves upon shelves of albums.
From Snoopy And His Friends by The Royal Guardsmen to Dark Side Of The Moon. He had it all.

At some point during any particular Sunday, the TV would go off, and my dad would make his way over to the record player to look for something to play. I was always drawn to music.
I always wanted to know who he was going to play and why.
He would tell me stories about when he first heard a particular song or record.
I always wanted to know more.
It was the sound of the player turning on. The crackle. Who didn’t love that crackle? That was part of the vinyl experience. My dad would choose the record he wanted to hear. Most of the time it was prefaced with a backstory about the band or the song.

Then, there were “those nights…”
My mother worked at a hospital at night.
My dad would get home from work and we would eat dinner and the night would settle down.
With two older sisters and a younger brother, these moments were rare, but the most special.
My dad would turn off the lights, and we would sit, and listen to music.
Cat Stevens, Peter Paul and Mary, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, etc…
It was always a surprise.

Then one evening, my dad played me the record that changed my life,
Tea For The Tillerman.

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Jung Youth,
The TVD First Date

“There are few sounds more satisfying and soothing to me than the crackle and pop of a vinyl record when you first drop the needle in the few seconds right before a song starts.”

“As a kid, I never really understood what an incredible format that records actually are—my curiosity began when I was snooping around my parents’ basement and stumbled across some dusty albums from my dad’s old collection. He didn’t have many records but a few of the ones I found made an impact on me. Some of them included ELO’s Out of the Blue, Cat Stevens’ Greatest Hits, and Crosby Stills & Nash’s Daylight Again.

It wasn’t until about a decade later while in high school that I began listening to records while visiting my hometown’s favorite record store, ear-X-tacy. My friends and I would always go and check out the newest releases before buying anything since we didn’t have the money to buy more than one record every now and again. Apple had just released iPods and a lot of the way that we consumed music was through burnt mix CDs and mp3 players like that, but my best friend had begun digging through crates and collecting random albums for the purposes of chopping up samples and making beats with his MPC2000XL. At the time, I was becoming absolutely obsessed with hip hop music and once he played J Dilla’s Donuts and The Shining for me, I became interested in the idea that one could manipulate the records’ sounds and turn them into entirely new forms of art.

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Church Girls,
The TVD First Date

“My dad and I would play a game when I was a kid where he’d put on a record and I’d have to guess it within a few seconds. The Beach Boys were a favorite, though I felt a bit insulted by the immediately unmistakable ‘Barbara-Ann.’”

“I spent hours on the living room floor pouring over album covers. I loved having a big piece of artwork to hold. When I first saw the cover of Every Picture Tells a Story, I remember thinking Rod Stewart didn’t match the mental image I’d had of him. This perturbed me because he and I were supposed to get married.

Soon after, my dad gave away all his records and replaced them with CDs—everyone’s favorite wave of the future.

Vinyl reentered my life in high school when some of the punk bands I was into started pressing vinyl exclusives. I bought a record player, created a little oasis in my bedroom, and began growing my own collection.

I remember getting Against Me!’s Reinventing Axl Rose in the mail and opening it up to find a pink and white vinyl disc. It looked like candy. I loved it.

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Dan Miraldi,
The TVD First Date

“In third grade, I became a vinyl collector.”

“It was one of the days when I convinced my mother to let me stay home, because I technically had a fever (probably around 98.7 degrees). She was organizing part of the basement when she called me to her side and presented me with a green and tan cardboard case. The container had a picture of a man and woman dancing on a record. A few months earlier, I started showing interest in the music of the Beatles and Elvis Presley. She thought I might enjoy the contents of the case.

She was right. Inside was the collection of 45s she purchased when she was growing up. Without much ceremony, she told me I could have them! I began flipping through the discs. I was thrilled to find in her collection a copy of an Elvis Presley EP featuring songs from his film Viva Las Vegas as well as a slew of Motown singles and a copy of Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild.” My mother then showed me how to operate the basement turntable. It was one of those players where you could stack the 45s you wanted to play and they would drop down on top of each other once the record before it was finished. After that day, part of my after school routine often was going down the basement, stacking those 45s on the record player. and having my own private dance party.

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Gary Lucas,
The TVD First Date

“I never fetishized vinyl. I mean I liked it fine, okay, when first introduced to those flat pancake discs—because, until the advent of the cassette and later its big brother the CD, what were the options? There weren’t none—so I just took it in stride as something utilitarian that just was, uh, there.”

“The first vinyl I can recall were 78s in my parents collection bound together in folio books with brown paper sleeves housing the black shellacked discs—sometimes audio documentaries like Show-Biz, narrated by Georgie Jessel and containing snippets of “great moments of “SB” like Sir Harry Lauder serenading a NYC theater at 2AM after his ship sailed in late from Glasgow, the Duke of Windsor’s abdicating his throne for the clutches of Walllis Simpson Warfield (a rather broad definition of show-biz, wouldn’t you say?)—or purported audio documentaries like Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater broadcast of The War of the Worlds—or actual spoken word drama with sound effects.

One good ‘un we had in our house in Syracuse growing up was Basil Rathbone essaying the role of Robin Hood (a reversal from his portrayal of the villainous Sir Guy of Gisbourne in the Michael Curtiz/Errol Flynn-filmed swash-buckler), a whole movie for your ears spread over six 78 rpm discs, acted out and replete with grisly torture sound effects in the dungeon. At one point when the Sheriff of Nottingham was extracting information out of one of Robin’s band of merry men by stretching him on the rack, ugh…but I digress.

On a lighter note, I especially remember those flimsy little yellow and red plastic see-through vinyl Golden Records for children (mostly without covers—my dog ate them or something) which were thrown around my Auburn, NY-based cousins’ rumpus room like so many frisbees when they weren’t playing them back for me and my siblings on weekend trips to their house. Stuff like “Mr. Bumbles” (“the funny Mr. Bumbles!”—sung in a minor key funereal dirge tempo by some guy with a mournful, lugubrious voice, melody and tempo reminiscent of the verse section of Henry Hill’s “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic”).

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Richard X Heyman,
The TVD First Date

“There was always a lot of vinyl lying around the Heyman household. My father was into big band jazz as well as some classic comedy albums; my mother liked Broadway soundtracks and classical. My three older sisters were into this new fad called ‘rock’n’roll.'”

“There were stacks of 45s by many of the burgeoning artists of the day. We even had some old 78s. I remember a few times where for some reason I couldn’t find the little plastic center piece (what the hell are those things called?) you’d put in the big hole on a 45. I’d try to eyeball it as centrally as possible, but I could never get it just right. The music would sound slightly wobbly and I’d get a little seasick. Like the time I listened to “Uptown” by The Crystals over and over again because I just wanted to keep experiencing it. And all the while, I had to put a nickel on top of the tone arm to keep it from skipping. This of course was on one of those tiny box record players.

I’d have to say I cut my teeth on Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Harry James, Count Basie, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, The King and I, Camelot, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley, Del Shannon, Ricky Nelson, Fats Domino, Dion & The Belmonts, James Brown, The Drifters, a ton of doo-wop and soul, etc. I spent a good portion of my youth deep inside the grooves of those vinyl albums.

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Kenneth Whalum,
The TVD First Date

“My first experience with vinyl records came when I was about 8 years old. It was Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions. I think along with the fact that it was my first vinyl experience, it was my first experience with Stevie Wonder.”

“I was immediately interested and curious about how this huge machine at the time worked. After asking my dad how he placed the needle on the record, he showed me and the music began to play. This is obviously one of the great albums of all time so the sounds were amazing as the record went around and around.

Another thing I remember was the fact that the artwork was amazing. I was probably more intrigued with the art than I was with the music at the time. My parents played this record and many others all the time and I loved how the speakers stood taller than I did. There is a certain sonic texture that even now is just much more rich than any other type of way to listen to music. It almost seems fatter. The presence of the sound waves seems thicker to me. My uncle Kirk Whalum would also make sure we had all of his vinyl records in the house.

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