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My First Album Love

The first record I ever owned may or may not have been one that was cut from the back of a cereal box and played on my Fisher Price record player.

But the first record I fell in love was not a cereal jingle, nor even a children's album at all. When I was nine years old, I fell hard in love with The Who's Tommy.

The album itself belonged to an older cousin. I remember pulling the record out of its sleeve and my cousin showing me how to properly handle a record album. As he placed my hands around the edge of the record and explained about fingerprints and dust and grooves, I read the titles. I asked him - what does Overture mean?

Mom and dad had this stereo at the time (this was 1970, we're talking stone age here) that was part liquor cabinet, part music machine. It was piece of furniture that was an oblong, wooden box plunked down on spindly legs. On the top of the box on the right was a sliding door. Opening that revealed a turntable and a radio tuner. The box also had a sliding cabinet on the front left side which, when opened, revealed several bottles of gin and Harvey's Bristol Cream.

My cousin showed me how to drop the record on the turntable. Until then, I had been using the Fisher Price system and was a bit haphazard about how I handled my cardboard records. He was almost reverent about it, holding the edges with his palm, placing the album gently on the turntable, dropping the needle on the groove by hand because he didn't trust the automatic arm to do it right.

He turned the volume up. The unmistakable crackle and hiss of needle upon vinyl filled the room.

We listened to the overture and he explained that each time the music changed, it was a piece of another song on the album. As the overture ended and It's a Boy came on, my cousin's friends appeared outside and my music lesson abruptly ended. I asked him to leave the record and he did.

So I sat on our overstuffed living room couch that afternoon and listened to Tommy in its entirety. When the first side ended, I grabbed the vinyl with my palms, just like he showed me. I felt so much older than my eight years as I flipped the record over and gently laid the needle down. No more cereal jingles for me. No more Banana Splits or whatever cartoon music I had been listening to before then. I had discovered a new world.

I listened to the album all they way through twice. I listened to the music, to the words. I heard the story within. Yea, I was only eight, but even at that young age I had a way of grasping things my peers didn't. I was reading, comprehending, understanding beyond them since I was a toddler. It's just the way I was. And now I had discovered something else that they would not quite get.

It wasn't until the second listen that I figured out there was a full story going on and not just random songs. I played it again, sometimes skipping over songs (Go to the Mirror), sometimes playing a certain tune twice (Acid Queen). On the third listen, my cousin (who was supposed to be babysitting me at the time but had disappeared with his friends) came back and was stunned to see I was listening to the album, and not for the first time.

For the next few hours, he sat down with me and went over the whole story, one song at a time. I remember him saying "I can't believe you get this" about ten times. We talked about wicked Uncle Ernie and Cousin Kevin and how I thought in the end Tommy reminded me a lot of Jesus.

It wasn't until five years later when we went to see Tommy the movie together that we talked about it again, and on a deeper level. Hey, to a 13 year old, a rock opera is about as deep as it gets.

By the way, we both hated the movie (with the exception of the Cousin Kevin/Uncle Ernie scenes). The vision of Ann Margaret rolling around in baked beans haunts my dreams to this very day.

And that was the first album I ever fell in love with.

Song selection:

tommy can you hear me
cousin kevin
im free -
see me feel me/listening to you
we're not gonna take it take

Comments

My folks had the same type of record player. Thanks for the memory!

The vision of Ann Margaret rolling around in baked beans (and chocolate! and soap suds! and a strange large phallic pillow!) haunts my dreams to this very day

Same here, although I wouldn't use the word 'haunt.'

THe first actual album I ever got was the Doors "Waiting for the Sun" on Christmas ( 66 or 67).I don't think my parents had a clue,especially when I listened to the disturbingly graphic parental death scene that is "The End".

Now, I don't remember the first album I fell in love with (although I plead the fifth regarding the frequency with which I played Michael Jackson's Thriller), but I can honestly say the first song I remember truly moving me was The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes." It still gets me everytime, and the first time I heard Fred Durst do it, I contemplated buying a plane ticket to whereverthefuck he was just to knife him.

My first cereal-box single was SUGAR by the Archies (how apropos, coming from a certal box!).

My first LP was Steppenwolf, Rest in Peace. My folks hadn't a clue either

Well, its evil, wicked, mean and nasty
--Don't step on the grass, Sam
and it will ruin our fair country
--don't be such an ass, Sam.
It will hook your Sue and Johnny
--You're so full of woe, Sam
All will pay to disagree with me
--Please give up, you already lost fight all right....

To this day I still listen to Tommy. My first album, Kosmo's Factory by CCR. First and only muscle car, 69 Chevelle SS in factory maroon. Best song to listen to while in said car, "Racing in the Streets"

Cosmos's Factory wasn't my first album, but I considered it my first "real" album!

Before Cosmo's Factory, I had these LP's (in this order). Please don't tell anyone!:

Holiday Sing Along wtih Mitch Miller
The Archies (with Sugar Sugar)
The Partridge Family Album
Three Dog Night: Naturally

Of course, it only got better from there:

CCR: Cosmo's Factory
Rolling Stones: Yet Yer Ya Ya's Out
Black Sabbath: Paranoid
Led Zeppelin II
Alice Cooper: Love it to Death
Deep Purple: Machine Head
Grand Funk Phoenix

During that period, I wore out two 45's that I still have:

Steppenwolf: Magic Carpet Ride/Sookei Sookie
Guess Who: American Woman/No Sugar Tonight

What a great period for music!

Speaking of which, the new Red Hot Chili Peppers double album was released today--gotta go listen to it. Bye.

Damn, I left out Iron Butterfly, which I bought at about the same time as the Archie's album. I'd have to say Iron Butterfly was my first "real" album, if you can call it that.

The first album I bought with my own money was The Rolling Stones double album Hot Rocks. I wore those two discs out on my G.E. Mustang with the shitty little plastic speakers.

Mark--I'm with you on the new RHCP album. I also bought the new Tool CD 10,000 Days. Not as good as Lateralus, but it still kicks ass.

In-A-Gadda-Da-Fucking-Vida, maaaan!

Hmmm, I reckon it would be a tie between Rush's 2112 and the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to Heavy Metal

Hm.

First album I remember owning? Queen's The Game. First one I obsessed over? Kiss's Double Platinum.

All on vinyl.

In 1970 I was in the Army and stationed in beautiful downtown Southeast Asia.

One thing that every GI bought while they were stationed overseas, be it Vietnam, Korea or Germany, was a kickass stereo.

And everyone had that album, which they would play at full volume every chance they had, be it day or night. You could walk past hootch after hootch hearing nothing but one cut or another from "Tommy".

I learned to hate the f***ing album. I still do.

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