Today is the annual celebration of Record Store Day, when artists encourage you to support your local brick-and-mortar record shop by releasing special-edition goodies. It's a perfect day, too, to reminisce about your first album, as our friends at Colorado Public Radio's Open Air have been doing this month.
For some, a "first album" means a vinyl record for others, a cassette tape or CD. (I imagine that my infant daughter will one day be asked to recall her first download.)
I was born in the era of vinyl 1974 and I can't recall the first adult record I acquired, but it was likely a movie soundtrack either Xanadu or Coal Miner's Daughter. (I was bonkers about both at about the same time.) I used to dress up as the heroines of both movies Loretta Lynn, and Olivia Newton John's rollerskating muse and would put on "concerts" of the albums for my amused parents. I haven't listened to either soundtrack since then, but I can confidently say that I'm still an ardent fan of both ELO and Loretta Lynn, so they definitely planted a seed that grew.
So what was your first album? Was it something delightfully embarrassing, that only the kid-you could love? Was it something you still listen to today? Here are some short and long answers from staff at The Current and MPR.
David Campbell, host, Radio Free Current and The Local Show: J. Geils Band "Centerfold" b/w "Rage in the Cage"
My mom bought it for me because it was my favorite song to skate to at the Saints West roller garden in West St. Paul, Minn.
When she brought it home, I listened to it like 100 times in a row. The realization that I could listen to this any time I wanted was just mind-blowing. As the spin count climbed, I began to realize what the song was actually talking about. My mother found me face down, crying into the couch about the whole nudie mag / stripping part. Too much, too fast for my little six-year-old mind.
Jim McGuinn, program director, The Current: Do It Now
At some time around 1970 when I was 3 or 4, my parents gave me an album that was ostensibly a compilation put together to promote NOT taking drugs, called Do It Now (liner notes claimed Do It Now "is a celebration of life a feeling of energy and love by the poets, artists and musicians who have joined together to speak for a purpose to relay the message against drug abuse.") But the weirdest thing about this was just how many songs were either from avowed drug takers (Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, the Byrds, Eric Burdon) or just sounded really trippy, like the song that I remember listening to over and over again that kicked it off, "Nowhere Man" by the Beatles.
I was already a Beatles fan, having seen Hard Day's Night, Help, and Yellow Submarine on some "Beatles Week" on the 3:30 movie on Channel 32 in Chicago, and a couple years later, when I was finally able to cobble together my weekly allowance, I remember going to Kmart and, after much rack-flipping deliberation (hmm, a trait that continues to this day), buying a copy of Meet the Beatles, which I still have! My copy can be dated to the early '70s because it's on the Apple label that only pressed their catalog at that time.
Fast-forward to early 1980, and my classic-rock-lovin' mind was blown apart by seeing The Clash on Fridays (itself a fascinating SNL-ripoff that launched Michael Richards pre-Seinfeld, among others.) The Clash played "London Calling" and "Train in Vain," and I also remember Joe Strummer's teeth being really messed up. I wasn't used to rock stars having bad teeth somehow those teeth meant something! I went out and bought the "London Calling" 45 the next week, though it wouldn't be until early 1982 and age 15 when I heard the Jam's "Town Called Malice" and finally got turned on to punk rock for real and my life changed forever.
Jay Gabler, digital producer
The first pop record (as opposed to kids' record) I ever owned was the Ghostbusters soundtrack. I wanted to see Gremlins for my ninth birthday in 1984, but that movie had the scandalous new rating of PG-13, so my parents instead suggested I take my friends to see the PG-rated Ghostbusters. I fell in love with the movie and started my own ghostbusting business, asking everyone to call me Ray (I figured Venkman was too cool for me to aspire to, and Egon was too geeky).
My mom bought the "Ghostbusters" 45 and copied it onto a cassette so we could listen to it in the car, and then that Christmas, my godparents gave me the whole soundtrack LP. I still have it; when Anna Barberio had a vinyl-themed birthday party this winter, I brought Ghostbusters, and when the crowd at Grumpy's NE heard Ray Parker Jr. start to play, everyone cheered.
Jay Gabler's copy of the Ghostbusters soundtrack.
Mark Wheat, host
My first 7" was T. Rex, "Ride a White Swan" (1971); first 12" was Wings, Band On The Run. I was 11 and ended up buying next 9 singles of T.Rex a major first crush.
Only ever brought Wings Over America after this, but I was definitely a Paul rather than John guy at age 11!
Other staff firsts:
Mac Wilson, host Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill
Jade, host and associate producer of The Current's Morning Show Ace of Base, "… unless we are talking actual records, then Nilsson Schmilsson."
Leah Garaas, producer, digital media "First CD was *NSYNC's self-titled debut. First vinyl purchase I was 16 was Black Moth Super Rainbow's Dandelion Gum that came out in 2007."
Steve Nelson, program director, MPR News "Pac Man Fever LP. 10. Very, very cool." (P.S. He still has it.)
Steve Nelson's copy of Pac-Man Fever.
Kate Moos, director, APM News Content Development The Beatles' Rubber Soul. (Kate wins.)
Laura McCallum, deputy news director, MPR "Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road not too bad, right?"
Justin Levy, supervisor, Event Services "Can I be honest? A Destiny's Child 12" of Survivor."
What was your first record? In the comments section, share your story and a photo, if you've got it of your first album.
- How I learned to love vinyl (again) Jay Gabler reflects on his experience as a Gen Xer -- specifically, one who observed the decline and resurgence of vinyl.
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