Letterist:
The TVD First Date

“One of the first albums I remember listening to was a Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn duet album, Louisiana Woman, Mississipi Man.

“I would listen when dad was on the road, and I learned all the harmonies that Loretta sang. I still listen to her when I am making breakfast on the weekend, or on rainy days. She is a kick-ass woman that did so much for females in the music industry, and so many people don’t know about her. Her, Tanya Tucker, Barbara Mandrell—all these strong women that sang with these sexual undertones and amazing voices.

When I was around the age of 10, my dad bought this huge record player-system-thing (it really took up about a quarter of our dining room) and got a bunch of old records from yard sales all over Alabama where we lived. My mom finally let me watch the movie Dirty Dancing, and I begged my dad to buy me songs from the movie. I became obsessed with The Shirelles and Otis Redding, and would force my little sister to make up dance routines to “Be My Baby” with me, with hairbrushes for microphones. I’m pretty sure she still holds that against me.

I started liking electronic type music for a couple of weird reasons—one being the Labyrinth, which introduced me to David Bowie. The Aladdin Sane album is still one of those that just sound better on vinyl, and that I need to listen to every song every time. Another strange reason is that I seem to date people that really like great music (I hope they feel the same about me). I got turned on to the Talking Heads because of a boyfriend, and am so thankful for that. If I had never heard “Once in a Lifetime.” I would be a lesser human.

Lately, I have been trying to rebuild my vinyl collection. I bought my boyfriend a record player that sits in our kitchen (I must have music while cooking, or I won’t start cooking). I recently got a couple of Joni Mitchell albums, the best being Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter, and Cat Power’s The Greatest, and have had them on main play. There are some really great places to buy albums in Brooklyn, and you can get some great stuff that you totally forgot about, if that makes any sense. There used to be an older gentleman in Clinton Hill that sells albums every weekend on his sidewalk, I need to pay him a visit or 10 soon.”
Pamela Bell, Singer

“When I was 8 years old I fell off the stage at my family’s church and fell headfirst six feet to the ground, receiving the most severe concussion of my life. I’m pretty sure this had a lot to do with otherwise ill-justified subsequent life choices.”

“However, when I came to, I was lying on the couch in the living room of my house (the nice room where my parents entertained guests), and for the first time, I saw their record collection. It was an archaic thing that, as far as I knew, hadn’t been touched since I was born. After they made sure I was okay, my parents left the room, and I snuck over to start sliding these black discs out of their cases. This was, unsurprisingly, also exactly the time I became definitively unpopular at my school.

Thus, presented in rough chronology of when I first discovered them, here are the 4 songs that convinced me that I lived in an alternate universe where I was really cool, and also began an ongoing career of being wrong about things.

De La Soul – “3 (The Magic Number)” | When I asked her about the records in the living room, my sister pulled out her copy of 3 Feet High and Rising and showed me how to play it. I remember thinking these were the smartest and funniest people who had ever existed. This song holds up so well. To this day I assume “Anybody in the audience ever been hit by a car?” is the epitome of witty stage banter.

Rush – “The Trees” | Not to be outdone, my brother retaliated by playing me this. It still seems like someone should make a movie of this story. Plus, the record had both a gatefold and a picture of a naked dude on it. A few years later I saw an interview with Mudhoney where they said this was obviously a deliberate ploy by Rush to gets kids high and make them look at pictures of naked men. That is still one of the few things in this world that makes absolute sense to me.

Janet Jackson – “Black Cat” | I decided I had to move past my siblings and find something I liked on my own. I picked Rhythm Nation 1814 out at the store because I had heard of Michael Jackson and I get easily confused. Luckily this album kicks so much ass that I listened to it over and over even though I had no idea what all the dumb interludes between the songs were about. I still don’t, really.

INXS – “Never Tear Us Apart” | INXS was the first band where I heard their song on the radio and knew I had to get their album. Plus I was in like 3rd grade at the time and I had a huge crush on this girl, Taryn Gunkel. I had this fantasy where I would go in front of the class and play this song on a boombox while I sang it to her, and she would fall in love with me and we would get married and drive around in a Porsche together. She changed schools the following year, probably due to fear for her safety.

This is still one of my go-to karaoke songs.

Actually, looking at all 4 of these songs, I’m now realizing you could combine them and get a fairly decent approximation of what our music sounds like.”
Alex McCown, Drummer

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