John Byrne,
The TVD First Date

“My Uncle David is just a few years older than me. Growing up he was more like a cousin or big brother, and his record collection seemed to go for miles.”

“When I was a kid we’d visit him and my Grandparents every Sunday, and once the usual pleasantries were exchanged it was all about David’s record collection. We didn’t have a record player at our house until I was twelve or thirteen so the hours spent going through David’s eclectic mix of albums was exhilarating. It seemed to have everything, from The Beatles to glam rock to the darkest Irish folk to Thriller.

They were all there, meticulously alphabetized and cleaned, played through crisp speakers or on giant headphones that probably looked ridiculous on my curly pre-teen head. I’d pick the first album quickly, something to listen to while my brother and I were deciding the musical direction of the evening. Sometimes David would be there and sometimes he wouldn’t. When he was there he would often put on something new, something we didn’t know, and by the end of a twenty-two minute album side I’d have a new favorite. When he wasn’t there we handled the collection with the utmost care, this was precious stuff.

When we finally got a record player at our house, David gave me a bunch of old 45s and a few albums he had outgrown. They were mostly ’70s—T. Rex, Sweet, some Status Quo, but they made the perfect starter kit and I soon began adding my own albums even though tapes and CDs were becoming the preferred choice for many music buyers.

There’s probably not an album I wore out more than my copy of The Traveling Wilburys’ Vol 1. I know every note on that album, and every syllable on the liner notes. It led me into the world of Bob Dylan and Tom Petty; it led me to pick up a guitar for the first time to figure out songs that seemed like something I could play or write.

Because it was on vinyl, I stopped to listen to it every time. That’s the magic of a record, it’s the art of actively listening to songs in the order intended by the artist, the art of pausing for a few minutes to hear Roy Orbison’s voice pick up where Bob Dylan’s left off, while Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty’s harmony soars over George Harrison’s slide guitar. And you’re there for it, you’re present. You’re not driving or jogging or walking the dog. And although the right music can be the perfect accompaniment to these activities, when I listen to a vinyl record it is the music that’s doing the driving and I’m just along for the ride.

The most recent record I bought was Kate Bush’s Before the Dawn box set, and when I put the needle down on side one for the first time I had that same feeling I always get with a brand new record. I didn’t move until it was over.”
John Byrne

A Shiver In The Sky, the new release from The John Byrne Band is in stores now—on vinyl.

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PHOTO: SUZANNE KULPERGER

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