Emmy Wildwood,
The TVD First Date

“I was born in Tucson, AZ where records melt. In the summer the heat would rise to 117 degrees sometimes, so both people and vinyl had to be stored in a cool, dry place.”

“My father was a musician turned businessman and avid record collector. He made a media center with our record player in the cool and dim living room of the house I was born in. I’m not sure if I’ve been told the story a million times or if I have retained the actually memory of my mother rocking me before bed in an old wood rocking chair while she played Joni Mitchell’s Blue.

When I close my eyes I can see the electric melon color of the dial in radio lit up in the dark and I can remember the needle on vinyl’s subtle fuzz as an indicator that I going to be wrapped up safely in loving arms and carried peacefully into sleep. Even though I wasn’t a crier (then), she rocked me every night to their collection of Joni Mitchell, Emmy Lou Harris, Crystal Gayle, Juice Newton, The Beach Boys, and The Beatles to ensure we bonded. From time to time, a song comes up on the radio that I feel like I’ve never heard before and somehow I know all the words. Most likely, those are songs my parents put on the turntable before bed.

As I got older the memories become clearer. My father became more and more successful and he spent longer days working. He always found time to play us James Taylor or sing us Peter, Paul and Mary before bed. Though the heat never relented, in the summers business was slower. On a special day and often “New Release” day he loaded me and my sister up in his 1940 Ford Truck to take us to Vic’s Record Shop and he would buy a few albums. My sister and I would lay on the floor beside the media stand cooling our cheeks and bellies on the floor and listen to the albums we bought while my parents sat on the couch. Then I knew that music kept my parents close and our family in harmony.

One album that is tattooed on my brain is Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual. I think maybe I fell in love with this record as I was building my emotional intelligence. I listened to the songs—that even as an 8-year-old pulled at my heart strings—and I would trace the album cover with my finger. I loved her mismatched outfit and the lightning bolt of her body zig zagged across the sleeve. She was someone to me who would never be overlooked or forgotten. The same went for Crystal Gayle whose beautiful long hair was that of a fairytale princess and Juice Newton who was orange haired, just like me.

We bought records even after everyone else was still buying cassettes. Going to Vic’s was a family ritual and as I got older I would get home and greedily tear open the records we bought to look for posters, stickers, or paraphernalia to covet as treasures. Eventually they stopped pressing new music to vinyl and my father submitted to wound tape inside of plastic. At least it still had inserts. At least it still had lyrics printed. At least it was still new music.

I was a teenager when CDs were being printed. As everyone started selling their old vinyl albums at yard sales to trade in for the newest technologies, we kept ours in a cool dry place. And still, in the summers I would go into our hall closet and dig through my father’s collection insisting he let me play them. I was a miserable 16-year-old but my father and I would tolerate each other as he dusted off the old stereo equipment so he could play me Abbey Road or Paul McCartney’s solo endeavors. I even lightened up long enough for him to teach me some musical facts or the chords to “Here Comes The Sun.” Then we would revisit that family harmony through music, though inevitably I would get mad and storm off to my bedroom full of black light posters where I would hammer what I learned into my fingers as I played on my J-200—the same guitar on which I ended up writing hundreds of songs.”
Emmy Wildwood

Emmy Wildwood’s latest single “Down Down” is taken from her forthcoming sophomore record All My Blood.

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PHOTO: MAEGHAN DONOHUE

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