Rachael Sage,
The TVD First Date

“My love of vinyl started when I was really little, and as I look back on those early memories now, I can’t help but feel closer to my parents and my sister, because it was music from their collections that found its way to my impressionable ears (which otherwise would have only been listening to cassettes). My fascination with recorded music began in our basement with my sister, who put on Marlo Thomas’ Free To Be You And Me. I was too young to reach the piano pedals, but it wasn’t long before I played every song on it by ear on the piano – albeit with one finger – and announced very boldly to my folks that I was “going to make up songs too.”

“Some of my earliest memories are my dad doing his best to educate me and my sister by listening to his beloved collection of 45s featuring everything from The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” and “Yesterday” to Richie Valens’ “La Bamba”, to Carole King’s “Natural Woman.” When he drove us to school or to friends’ houses, he was usually tuned in to the oldies station (CBS FM) and they would be playing the Top 100 from the ’50s or the ’60s and he would always tell us what songs he had proudly kept in his collection, advising me to study certain artists whose music he fervently expressed had changed the social landscape.

From Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” to Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” to The Temptations’ “Papa Was A Rolling Stone,” if it had been a major hit before I was born, it seemed like I could find the single in my Dad’s incredible collection. Ironically, my Dad can barely carry a tune and doesn’t play an instrument – but he sure had impeccable taste in music!

Likewise, my Mom exposed me to some very influential artists through her extremely eclectic album collection. She seemed to gravitate toward anything with beautiful melodies or a lively, energetic theatricality, whether it was classical music, Cole Porter, Liza Minnelli, Andy Gibb (my first celebrity crush), Dave Brubeck, Barbra Streisand, or the soundtrack to Oklahoma. My Mom’s vinyl record collection was also my first exposure to folk, and while I didn’t necessarily gravitate toward it initially, it’s interesting how all these years later I count her Judy Collins, James Taylor, and Peter, Paul & Mary records as among my favorite recordings as an adult.

By the time I was old enough to want to be just like my big sister (who was three years older than me), I was also well aware that I would never be as cool as she was! In her early teens, she and her friends would wander around the various record stores in NYC – like Sounds, or Bleecker Bob’s – and collect the latest alternative artists they loved, all on vinyl. I would hear her spinning The Cure, The Smiths, Siouxsie & The Banshees and basically everything I was NOT hearing on Top 40 Radio at the time, and it was all very mysterious and interesting. Like everything else I heard on vinyl, it permeated my impressionable young mind and made its way into my own writing, however subtly.

Through the years, I have expanded my own vinyl collection to include everything from my favorite albums by Buddy Holly, Elvis, Dusty Springfield, and Hall & Oates, to brilliant recordings by Howard Jones, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Joan Jett, Christopher Cross, Elvis Costello, and Lucius. When I visited Russia I was gifted a copy of an Aquarium album that’s still among my most prized possessions.

Nowadays, I have more appreciation than ever for beautiful vinyl artwork, and I fondly recall the days when I first moved to NYC and would wander the aisles of Tower Records, captivated initially by an image that then prompted me to listen. I feel so fortunate to have been exposed to so much incredible music on vinyl through the years, and to now have the opportunity to press vinyl myself! When I design vinyl packages now, I think about the full sensory experience – and how the imagery, layout, and even things like pop-out artwork (included in my newest release Character) – will fully immerse the listener in a memory.

I don’t mind streaming, and I grew up with cassettes and CDs as the ‘norm,’ but the warmth and nostalgia associated with vinyl always brings me back to a much more intense place, where listening to music is something sacred, intensely personal, and precious.”
Rachael Sage

Character, the new full-length release from Rachael Sage is in stores now—on gorgeous gold vinyl.

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PHOTO: BILL BERNSTEIN

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