My First Record: Alicja Trout (Black Sunday, Mouserocket, River City Tanlines)

Somewhere in the 70’s in a house with wood panelled walls, split level rooms, multi-colored shag carpet and a non-ironic sad-eyed clown painting a 7″ record was spinning. Two little kids knelt on the floor and listened. It was the Chipmunks doing “I Wanna Hold Your Hand“. It spun on a chunky record player housed in a textured fabric box with a metal latches, a clear handle, and a built-in speaker. It sounded soooo good. The melody, the words, and the harmonies… I loved them. I loved this song but I don’t think I loved the Beatles. I loved the Monkees! This was my friend Johnny’s record. We were both HUGE Monkees fans. Back then it was already a syndicated show but we didn’t know or care that it was passe. Johnny and I perused his parents’ record collection to listen to more music, in particular Jesus Christ Superstar.

I had two record players. One was jungle themed and colored in dark jewel tones and tans. The other was Mickey Mouse and when you opened it up Mickey’s head and upper body was on the inside of the record player cover and Mickey’s arm folded down with the needle under his pointing white hand. ( As an adult I have seen this record player more then once in several various antique malls. ) I used to go to the library and check out records. I was 6 maybe. There was soo much to choose from. The vinyl was always kind of scratched. I remember crying at this song about a whale named “Whichy”, the end was sad for some reason. I was angry that I had gotten a sad record, but I liked it too.

Mom gave me a Monkees Greatest Hits record, purchased from some department store. Still have that. Johnny and I loved the more obscure Monkees songs that were on the records at his parent’s house. We’d already heard the hits a hundred times on tv, like the “Monkees Theme” and “Daydream Believer“. Also Mom had given me a Christmas Greatest Hits record with “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” and “Rockin Around The Chrstmas Tree.” I loved that song. I had no cool records. My parents didn’t like rock music.

We went to Disney World when I was a kid and I really wanted this cartoon covered record, it had Brare Rabbit on it and maybe a bunch of Uncle Tom’s Cabin cartoons, and my parents were pretty blatantly opposed to getting me this record. They were both easily annoyed by some music so maybe they thought this record would be annoying to them. But they did get me the “It’s A Small World” record, and I DID really like it. I still have it and I play it for my daughter Valentine.

My parents did have a few records. Some classical collections and a boring Joan Baez record. There was some weird record with naked ladies on it. It was all about the sounds of the red light district in Hamburg, Germany. I never listened to it as a kid out of fear of getting caught. But I kept up with it over the years and when I finally re-found it it was not what I expected. There was just this nerdy guy speaking into a recorder as he walked down the street and was claiming that these were the sounds of the red light district. It was boring. What a ruse.

We had one interesting record that my dad always called his father’s record. It was about an 8 ” size and it was very thick and heavy in a discolored thin and plain paper sleeve. My Granddad played the ukelele and sang with a friend in harmony. It was an old hit of his day about packin’ up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile smile smile. It had come from a record making machine, and had been cut as they performed the song into a mic. Pretty cool.

-Alicja Trout

Alicja Trout lives in Memphis and plays in several musical ensembles like River City Tanlines, MouseRocket, and Black Sunday. She ran a record label/mail-order store called Contaminated Records from 1999-2007. Today she is a mom, guitar teacher, and property manager. She likes sushi, long walks on the beach and confesses to being somewhat of a pack-rat, especially with many formats of audio recordings.

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