Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The First Cut Is the Deepest. But It's the Deep Cuts That Really Get You.

I grew up listening to music - mostly really great music - all around me. Now, I don't claim to have the parents who listened to classic jazz albums and shit like that. But I'm the youngest of five. I got all the influences. The first album that I ever learned the lyrics to - both sides - was "What's Going On" from Marvin Gaye. I'll take that. I'm almost as proud of that as making sure my daughter's first concert was Wilco - a band she loves (at age 6). And my brothers and sisters were Beatles fans, which is beyond a cliche (but helpful in the musical evolution).

Anyway, despite all of that, the first album that I ever bought with my own money - a key distinction - was the soundtrack to "American Graffiti." And I loved it. I bought it in the Bay Area while visiting my sisters on a visit from SoCal. I played it all the time. Over and over again (a listening pattern that remains today). I learned most of the songs. Even the ones I didn't like. I took it home with me on the plane. I was home for maybe five minutes when I raced across the street with it to show my best friend, Eric. I was going to play him all the great tracks.

He was in his room, with our other good friend, Pat. They had just discovered a new band and a new album, which they were cranking: Aerosmith "Rocks."

I had just become, instantly, the uncoolest of the three. I mean, you only have to hear "Back In the Saddle" once to realize you shouldn't put on "Maybe Baby" right after it. But I had the album. And though all was immediately lost as soon as I walked in, I still - mistakenly - made a play for how great it was. They didn't care. We listened to Aerosmith for an hour at least. Then I played a track or two of "American Grafitti" and suffered the unhip indignity of it all. Maybe that's why I went on to become a music critic - to always be out front, to never follow.

Anyway, here's my question: What was the first album you ever bought for yourself? And how did it affect/change you - or not?


page said...

Interesting topic...

I'm the youngest of 3 so I heard of a lot of older bands while I was growing up. The first song I remember hearing & loving on the radio was the Beatle's Hey Jude. I must have been around 4 or 5 years old & the song had been out for a while....I was also a Jackson 5 & later Michael Jackson freak so I had my mom buy me all their albums. My sister's & I had our own routine to Dancing Machine.

I think the first album I actually bought was Led Zeppelin's first album because my sister was sick of me borrowing hers. I just couldn't get enough of those drums. It wasn't until years later that I actually listened to their lyrics & realized how sexually explicit they were & why my parents hated me listening to them.

I also had a Peter, Paul, & Mary album that I loved. Can't remember the title. But it had all their hits on it.

I used to pretend to howl at the moon every time my oldest sister played Joni Mitchell because she had such a strong & distinctive voice. Now I really enjoy hearing her.

And I used to buy every Rolling Stones album. Love the old stuff & select 70's & 80's songs.

I could go on & on. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Trixie said...

The Captain & Tennille. Love will keep us together, baby. Love will keep us together. Not sure it changed me musically except discovering the joy of singing at the top of my lungs. Loved the pictures of their bulldogs (Bruno? Brutus? Something like that).

I remember learning the words to songs by taping them - putting that little microphone on the cord next to the record player. I would play one line, pause it, write down the words, then play the next line.

My favorite albums were those Ronco Hits! albums with songs like Run Joey Run, Billy Don't be a Hero and The Night Chicago Died. Ah, the great "story" songs. Those albums were always a hit at slumber parties.

Marvin Gaye at such a young age - way cool. I'm still listening to that album on my iPod. Make me wanna holla, throw up my hands ... you tell 'em, Brother Marvin.

Lysa said...

Magical Mystery Tour, when I was 9 or 10 and the album had been out about 6 or 7 years. I remember everything about buying that album--the store where I bought it (Sage Music Mart), taking it home and listening to it, etc. Here's what I learned:

1. George was definitely the cutest.
2. I immediately discovered that my friends had bought different "popular" albums (Elton John was big, Bay City Rollers were getting started, etc.), but that I really liked listening to my own stuff.
3. There's a whole wide world of music out there, and I was going to have to earn a whole lot of money around the house to be able to buy it all.

I'd say that all three lessons still ring true, except now I earn money from people other than my mom.

On a Wilco note, I took my son to his first show when he was 3 (KFOG Kaboom '99). He's 11 now, and last summer we had our first joint groupie experience, seeing them at the Greek in Berkeley and then driving down to Santa Barbara to see them again the same weekend. What a great thing to share with him...we pledged to do a minimum three, maybe four shows on their next West Coast tour.

George D from the 415 said...

Well this will clearly set my age as far younger than most. I was first buying music in the transition from tapes to CDs, but since I was young I bought a handful of tapes. Also, I really had a tendency to listen to the music my siblings would play, which ranged from Madonna (who I didn't like) to The Beatles to Bob Marley. I also remember listening to KOIT in the car a lot as a kid.

The first album I remember LISTENING to on headphones was Kris Kross's Totally Krossed Out, but I cannot recall if I actually bought it or if it was borrowed from one of my older siblings (Also a youngest of three).

The first cassette I remember owning came out a few years later, which was the soundtrack to Batman Forever. I loved Kiss From a Rose.

Slappy said...

I bought three cassettes all at the same time:
Rockwell - Somebody's Watching Me
Def Leppard - Pyromania
Lionel Richie - Can't Slow Down

How'd it affect me? Take a guess! LOL

George D from the 415 said...

I just went through iTunes, and another CD/Tape crossed my path which I remember having at a very young age: The Simpson's Sing the Blues. I LOVED the Bartman and Deep Deep Trouble. Those songs ROCK!

rushfan said...

The first album I ever bought was Rush's All the World's a Stage. I was in boy scouts and the son of the scoutmaster worked for Polygram, the record label, and so my friend always had new music. He brought Rush's Permanent Waves to a campout, and I loved it. Went to the record store (Big Ben's in San Lorenzo) but couldn't remember which album I loved, so got ATWAS instead.

Rush is still my favorite band 28 years later, although Moving Pictures is my favorite album.

After college I couldn't find a job so worked at a record store, then went into music distribution for 10 years. Got a lot of crap from people in the industry because Rush is not a cool band, like Wilco for instance, but it never bothered me. My 12 year old son loves Rush too, thank God. He's seen them three times.

Anonymous said...

it was a 45, ahhhhh the 45's. The lost little piece of plastic, the small sleeves with no jacket.

Mine was Rubberbandman by the Spinners. God only knows why but that was my first. A lot like Marnie Opper, it was a fleeting love.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah, Tim, you are right. David Simon, great though he may be, needs to shut it for a while.

p.s.-I thought about sending you the Huffington thing too, but knowing you probably had already seen it, my sadistic meter prevented me.

pnm said...

I was the youngest of three brother so instead buying my own I would sneak into their rooms and listen to their records.

I loved the Beatles (my folks and two brothers are from Liverpool--I'm the only 'Yank'). I especially loved the stuff that scared me like the White Album and the end of Strawberry Fields. Even today I get the creeps listening to that stuff.

My first concert, though, was Devo--can't get much cooler than that. One thing about the show was that they opened for themselves, in the guise of a religious rock group called Dove: The Music of Love.

girlina said...

There was minimal jazz in our home. It was blues, blues and more blues. It could explain why I loved bubblegum so much. What little kid wants to hear Muddy Waters and B.B. King all the time?

My first concert was at six years of age - James Brown. My great aunt managed the concessions at the Municipal Auditorium, and while we begged and pleaded for the Jackson 5, every year it was James Brown. Ah, the foresight of adults.

My first purhcased albums were the Jackson 5's Get It Together & The Bay City Rollers. I also had my share of K-Tel compilations...

pnm said...

BTW, Tim. How about for your next music blog posing the question: Tom Waits: Great songwriter or the greatest songwriter...

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

The album I bought was "Every Picture Tells a Story" by Rod Stewart. Great album! Ironically, Almost everything he's done since then is shit.

charlesEP said...

hootie and the blowfish- cracked rear view

there was no music in my house. soon after buying this i got into punk and third wave ska. still, anytime i hear darius rucker sing, assuming its not to sell whoppers, i get a little happier.

BobMac said...

I still have the vinyl record of American Graffiti (actually, it's my wife's.) My first album, however, was The Cars' Heartbeat City...still have it -- still listen to it. My first CD I bought was Howard Jones' Dream into Action. Strange how buying music used to be a big deal. Enough of a big deal at least that we can remember all the details of a purchase made about 25 years ago.

KLE said...

As an only child, I didn't have that influence of of an older sibling to guide me. Luckily, my mother is from Liverpool, so at least early Beatles was standard repertoire growing up. The first money I ever spent on music was 45's of Beatles singles, and I remember having the "red" and "blue" compilation albums.

My earliest forays into music of my very own were Bee Gees and Andy Gibb - Saturday Night Fever, Tragedy,and whatever Andy's albums were called. See what happens without sibling guidance?

Throughout middle school, high school, and college, it was a Dark Ages of top 40 then show tunes and Barbara Streisand, etc.

It wasn't until I was out of college that I finally got a clue about the Grateful Dead and things improved dramatically from there. During my deadhead years there were two boyfriends under whose guidance I finally learned to really listen to music, and to really, deeply love it. One of them also took responsibility for completing my Beatles education.

Finally, now that I'm 40, I feel like I have a much more wide open appreciation of music, and at least for the time being, am the guidance for my almost 8 year old son. He's developing an eclectic ear and I think will be a real listener for life.

boyohboy said...

I'm apparently the youngest one to post 'cos my first purchase with my own money was "...And Out Come the Wolves" by Rancid (who I didn't even know were local at the time). BUT, that was followed (in order) by "King of the Delta Blues Singers" by Robert Johnson and a Fats Domino collection. Just shows how open you are to really different things when you're young and everything is fresh and new and great I suppose.

As for the song that most affected me? I heard "Complete Control" by The Clash and then EVERYTHING changed...

Anonymous said...

The first tape I bought was Genesis' Invisible Touch when I was 12. Like the Rush fan wrote earlier I know Genesis isn't the coolest band ever but I love their music and some of the best times I've had over the years have been seeing them live in concert. All my friends at the time liked hair metal and I think Genesis has aged better than Poison or Ratt.

Pinkhamster said...

First album I bought was on cassette: the Flash Gordon soundtrack by Queen. The defining story I have to tell about that is that it was in our family's VW camper tape deck when thieves smashed the window one night and stole the car stereo. These music critics actually paused to remove the Queen tape and throw it on the ground rather than steal it along with the stereo. If that's not a forceful review, I don't know what is. As a result of this difference of musical taste, I still own the tape to this day.

seaphoto said...

The Partridge Family Album, solidfying my crush on Susan Dey.

Anonymous said...

Kiss "Alive". I saw them on Don Kirshner and was floored by the visual, and the next day I took the bus to Leopold's in Berkeley, and picked that album because of the visual on the cover, the band playing in concert. I always prefer live albums if I can get them for the feeling of the experience. And from that I became a big rock guy while in junior high, and at Claremont jr. high in Oakland, being a black guy into KISS, Ted Nugent, and Aerosmith was not the most popular of choices. I didn't give a shit, I like what I like and who ever had a problem could go to hell. As a child my mom played everything from James Brown to Cold Blood to Sly Stone to the Stevie Wonder to the Rolling Stones, The Isle Brothers, The Beatles, and The Ohio Players. I listened to everything and was taught by her to never limit my choices or tastes musically. Everyone will not like the same thing, and to dismiss something because it is in a different genre is just silly. And I faced a LOT of silliness at Claremont.

Tunnza said...

Since PBS had Peter and the Wolf on Wednesday night, I've been reminiscing about listening to it on 78's in my grandparents' dining room with my aunt (4 yrs. older) and sister (2 yrs. older) way back in the day. Those are the days when an album was an album – multiple records to accommodate all the numbers in a piece. When 33's came out, we listened to original Broadway cast albums of West Side Story, Bye-Bye Birdie and the like.

But I think the first album I bought was probably Judy Garland's Judy at Carnegie Hall album. At the time I had crushes on two boys who were crazy about Judy (and may have had crushes on each other). I loved the album and became as much of a fan of Judy as the boys were. The woman knew how to sing! And I agree with marc about live albums. The feeling's incomparable.

Anonymous said...

Riccardo B:
I'll spare everyone most of the ya-da ya-da details and just offer up the answer. 1967 I guess it was and the Album? Sgt. Pepper. But to play it, I had to also buy a stereo record player at the same time. Flash forward tho & what made me finally breakdown and buy a CD (and if you are following along, yep, had to buy a CD player the same day as well) That time around? Tom Waits, Big Time. Partly because I was in the audience in SF when it was recorded.

fhrohles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DarthFrank said...

I'm the youngest of 5, am now 41 and my Brother listened to The Doors and The Who, and my sisters were into Loggins and essina, Bread and Chicago. My first 45 was War's Why Can't we Be Friends, and the B side was How Long Has This Been Going On.

The first LP I paid for was Led Zeppelin II, because I was 10 and in Communication Breakdown Robert Plant sang 'suck'.

pnm said...

Riccardo B:

Certainly hope you enjoyed the Tom Waits Big Time show as much as I did. This was the first time I saw him live and it was great.

I just wish they'd release the movie on DVD.

throttlefinger said...

Made in Japan by Deep Purple. At 13 or so, I secretly signed up with the Columbia music club, which shipped records at the time. Needless the say, the gig was up when the post man knocked on the door and gave my mom that boxy bastard.

I listened to that album so much...was great for rockin out while doing my mandatory menial laboring or kicking back with a 10 minute solo on Space Truckin'.

Couple years ago, bought the digitally remastered, "gold" re-release. All that technology spent upgrading the songs, I still think the vinyl version crushes it.

martinesque said...

Madonna. Like a Virgin. Cassette. This was actually the third tape I owned - the first being a Police tape I stole from my older brother, and the second being (of course) Thriller, a gift for a birthday or something. But it was the first I paid my own money for. Followed closely, if I recall correctly, by U2 October.

And me and some girl, Holly I think her name was, used to sit in the wood chips on the playground and argue about who was Michael Jackson's girlfriend, me or her.

Thriller and Like a Virgin were both mega hits of their day and not exactly "cool" (although soon my bro would put in my hands the much-cooler Dead Kennedys, NWA, Descendents... and later Pixies, Sonic Youth, etc). But what they drilled into my 4th-grade self was dancing. Dance dance dancing! (dancing that also led me to Prince, which led me to 60s soul, which led me to jazz.) And dancing is, really, a lot what music's all about. Even if you never actually move your butt, you're dancing when you're listening, in some way or other.

Pinkhamster said...

"And me and some girl, Holly I think her name was, used to sit in the wood chips on the playground and argue about who was Michael Jackson's girlfriend, me or her."

You were probably in the right age bracket.

Scott of the Set said...

Greetings Mr Goodman.
(I'm a long time reader, since the examiner days , podcast listener and greatly enjoyed your talk with Jon Carroll whom I've long admired.)
Music first began infecting my nervous system through two cartoons: 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' with Vince Guaraldis' score, especially the bouncy ' Linus and Lucy ' and the animated Beatles show. I was maybe five years old then and considerably younger than the screaming teenage girls I was seeing on our familys' green plastic black and white TV, but I can still see the opening close up shot as each vertical bass guitar string is plucked and vibrates back and forth ecstatically.
My first three records I bought about five years later in 1971. They were 45's:
Uncle Albert /Admiral Halsey by Paul McCartney, Indian Reservation by Paul Revere
and the Raiders and A Brand New Key by Melanie.
~ The gravitational pull towards anything Beatles was irresistible. I started with Uncle Albert /Admiral Halsey, immersed myself in the Beatles Red and Blue compilations and was thereafter irretrievably lost . (God help me, I bought all of McCartney's albums for the next several years, as well as joining the official Wings fan club.)
~ Indian Reservation. Do you remember what it's like to first come under the spell of pop music? It's a time when you really have no defenses, like a kid in the spell of a second rate magician's slight of hand. Almost any drum beat is hard wired to zap your hormones. Add to that the pumped up sound of a Hammond and over the top production extolling indian pride.
" So proud to live! So proud to Diiieee!!! " What's a ten year old boy from Marin not to like?
~ I remember hanging out by the playground swings in fourth grade with my friend Andy. Melanie's A Brand New Key is stuck in my head. It has been all day, maybe longer. I have been singing along taking pleasure in mimicking as closely as I can, Melanie's voice which is very high and girlish. I don't know what I am thinking in this moment. I've learned from my dad's example to take enjoyment in annoying others. But admittedly I had never seen my dad sing like a girl in front of his friends. The image I'll always remember: Andy staring at me disapproving and creeped out saying " will you stop singing that. "


Anonymous said...

Well my comment is a little different. just want to say thanks to Tim Goodman who turned me on to Uncle Tupelo and from there I went on to many more of the same...this was way back in your west county times first album bought was Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin.

Tweedy said...

I was the oldest of two, so had to fend for myself music-wise, and it will show as you read this. My parents - specifically, my father - did have the great collection of classic jazz, but my mother had converted him to classical only so I never got to hear those records until discovering them in my teens. When I was 7 or 8 I discovered they also had Sgt. Pepper's (their only rock album besides Simon and Garfunkel's Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, if you count that as "rock").

First musical memory I have is watching The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night with my mother at around age 5. It goes downhill from there for a while. though. First albums I remember that were "mine" were the Star Wars soundtrack, the Raiders of the Lost Ark soundtrack, and Kenny Rogers' The Gambler. I lived in TX at the time and as an 8-year old I was a sucker for country songs with a story, like Convoy.

First album I remember definitely buying with my own money was Men At Work's Business as Usual, on cassette, during my top-40 radio phase, which lasted about a year before discovering Led Zeppelin. How did Business and Usual change me? I occasionally borrow a line from "Be Good Johnny" and put it to use around the house, e.g., "You're a strange cat Scatters, but I like you." Other than that, it reminds me how it took me a while to fumble my way along the radio dial to learn about good music, although my early love of the Beatles never went away.

Steve T. said...

Van Halen (the first album). I grew up in a household with a Mom who listened to Top 40 music so I heard the Doors, The Beatles, Doobie Bros, Creedence, etc.....this was the first album I bought of "my music" and made me feel like I had developed my own musical tastes.....I later realized that I loved all the aforementioned bands plus VH, Rush, Zepp, etc......

Anonymous said...

kdMy first records were ABC by the Jackson 5 and The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees. Unfortunately, the Jackson 5 record had a short life as my older sister got mad at me and broke it in 2. But I saved the Monkees and wore many a needle out on that record. Always thought I'd name my daughter Valerie.

E.P. Campbell said...

My sister had warned me not to go to a certain store (can't remember the name for the life of me) because the owner had been arrested for selling bootleg copies of tapes. We didn't exactly have a huge selection of music stores around, and I wouldn't be denied my chance to buy some tapes after weeks of saving up.

So. Fast-foward to me getting home and unwrapping my purchases. The plastic wrap was reassuring since they couldn't possibly be bootlegged if they were wrapped in plastic, right? I had bought Run DMC's Kings of Rock and Led Zeppelin IV that day, and I only chose IV because I thought the symbols on the spine looked cool. I popped it into my tape deck and I was immediately crushed. The tape claimed that the first track was Black Dog, but the lyrics had nothing to do with a black dog. I clearly had been screwed over by a mislabeled bootleg.

I still can't listen to that damn song without hearing my sister laughing at me when I asked her to help me get my money back.

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