Shannon McNally:
The TVD First Date

“My most vivid memory of albums, vinyl albums, is the way they smelled. I don’t recall a time when they weren’t around. Even through my vagabond years when I couldn’t keep track of much, I always had a few on hand.”

“My folks had them when I was a child. They weren’t avid collectors but they had a nice bunch of about 70 or so. I can still smell the cardboard and the finest hint of dust. My folks’ taste varied from Nina Simone to Jesse Winchester, Cat Stevens to Paul Robeson, to a Billie Holiday multi LP collection that came in a box. We also had children’s records. The Uncle Remus LP lulled me to sleep on more than one occasion and I can still hear the opening ‘Good morning, children’ croon of Leadbelly singing to a classroom full of kids.

To this day I still think of the sound tracks to Grease and Saturday Night Fever as kid’s records because I remember staging mini shows in the living room with my brother to ‘Grease Lightening’ and ‘More Than A Woman.’ Vinyl and the emotional response to the music I heard come from it, to me, are one and the same. As kids, my brother and I tried to be gentle with them but we used them, they got handled. They forced you to be still and listen because if you jumped around too much they’d skip. God, there was nothing more annoying than hitting that inevitable scratch and then you had to go over and pick up the needle.

When we first discussed pressing vinyl for Small Town Talk there was a brief moment when I thought we’d get to have a jacket that opened up so that I could print all the lyrics. I was surprised that it was a possibility as I figured it would be over our budget (which it ended up being) but for that initial moment, when I thought we were going to do it, I was possibly as excited as I have ever been at any individual cornerstone moment in my music career of 17 years. I survived the disappointment of a standard single pocket jacket of course, but it made me aware of the weird little details that really tell you what you are.

My daughter is just this side of five years old now and she listens primarily to vinyl when she’s partying in the living room in her princess garb and mac and cheese. Talk about indoctrination by hippie musician parents. I love watching her little hands navigate the edges of the record player, the edges of the vinyl, as she gets the feel for lifting and dropping the needle on and off the spinning disc.

After she was born we started buying Disney LPs at Goodwills around the country. I was really turned off by kid’s CDs that reinterpret classic albums for kids. There are a lot of great kids albums, but I find them in general weirdly dumbed down. Kids are so much more profound than they get credit for. The thought of giving her Mp3’s to listen to ranks up there with the idea of baby formula. No sir, babies need the real deal for brain development—the whole wave thank you. Better she hear Dark Side of the Moon or Sgt. Pepper as they were made, with that clear, open and spongy mind she dropped in from outer space with than make her wait until she’s 14.

I think of her listening to classics on vinyl as an inoculation to the disposable pharmaceutical lack of soul that she will no doubt encounter as her wings fully open and she ventures out of my living room. I will also be stressing penmanship and tuning by ear.”
Shannon McNally

Shannon McNally’s brand new LP Small Town Talk featuring Dr. John, Vince Gill, Derek Trucks, and Luther Dickinson is on store shelves right now!

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