Emmeline,
The TVD First Date

“Puff the Magic Dragon may live by the sea, but he also lived in my family’s record player.”

“With the mere press of a button and the whoosh of spinning vinyl, “Puff the Magic Dragon” would spring from the speakers, inviting me to frolic in the autumn mist of a land called Honahlee. My name wasn’t Jackie Paper, but I was eager to share with Puff whatever strings and sealing wax I could find. (Fun fact: As a young music fan, I thought the lyric was “sealy wax.” I was convinced that “sealy wax” took the form of a special candle made only by seals, and I searched in every Eckerd for one worthy of Puff.)

I understood that the family record player was the secret to bringing Puff the Magic Dragon out to play. I knew that one of the knobs on the record player’s face summoned my favorite seaside rascal. I just didn’t know which one.

One day, fifteen-month-old me pushed myself up onto my stubby little legs, marched awkwardly over to the silent record player, and hit ‘play.’ When the sweet melody of my musical friend began to echo throughout the living room, I was so pleased that I began fiddling with more buttons. Suddenly, the volume increased to terrifying levels, and I clapped my hands over my ears and started to cry. “Too loud!” I wailed, feeling betrayed by my favorite dragon friend. Didn’t he understand the idea of “inside voices?”

When my mother found me, sobbing hysterically and clutching the record cover for “Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul and Mary, she lowered the volume and tried to drag me out of the room. I wouldn’t budge. My mother loves to tell this story at parties. “I should’ve known then,” she always laments amidst surprised laughter. “When she loved the record player so much that she refused to leave the living room—even with tears streaming down her cheeks—I should’ve known I was raising a musician.” “We finally had to hide that record,” she confesses. “She wore it out! I got to the point where I couldn’t stand to hear that song anymore.”

My parents might have creatively removed “Puff the Magic Dragon” from my life by my second birthday, but they couldn’t remove me from the living room. I was convinced that the record player was magic. Day and night, it told me incredible, glitter-tinged stories. I sat in rapt attention as a man named Bob Dylan told an incredible tale about a watchtower. I stood and swayed on unsteady feet as a young woman named Joni Mitchell sang in a high, clear voice about circle games and tree museums. I crooned along with some girl named Ella Fitzgerald in my tiny, baby warble.

Occasionally, I took the record that was mine—an old recording of “It’s A Small World” with technicolor photos of my favorite ride at Disney World—and helped my father slide it onto the center spindle until it reached the platter. I loved the familiar whoosh that echoed throughout the room, a friendly reminder that my favorite song was coming soon. (They were all my favorite songs.) I loved the rumble of the cartridge as the needle traveled along the grooves. I loved that it all happened beneath a glass cage, like the magic was too precious to touch the open air.

When we finally moved from my childhood home, I found “Puff the Magic Dragon” tucked away behind an army of particularly thick law textbooks. I’m sure the whole neighborhood could hear my squeal of delight. “Mom!” I yelled. “I found ‘Puff the Magic Dragon!’ Remember how we lost it?” I didn’t walk. I ran to the magical record player in the corner of the living room and laid that record on the platter with as much reverence as the priest uses to lay a host into a congregant’s waiting hands. I listened for the whoosh and watched the steady disappearance of the text into a circle of gold. Not even my mother’s groan from the kitchen could dampen my delight.

It is my sincerest wish when I make music that, on the end of it, some other little girl is experiencing magic for the first time—listening for the whoosh, watching the magic beneath the glass cage, and finding a lifelong friend in the melodies that spill from the speakers. Long live vinyl.”
Emmeline

Emmeline’s full length release, Rise arrives in stores on March 15.

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PHOTO: MANDY CAULKINS

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