Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stop, Look and Listen

I came home to my youngest blasting tunes from his room; I heard Three Dog Night, a bunch of new stuff I don't know, The Who, and Kelly Willis. He's 17. I'm blessed.

What was your first music you bought?

For my generation, you say, what was the first LP you bought? The next one, I guess you'd ask them about cassettes, then CDs, and now online/streaming/MP3/digorama.

As a working musician, I don't have any nostalgia for the sound quality, but I do for the whole experience of records: Going to Stop, Look And Listen to browse and buy... That store, a seventies stalwart if there ever was one, was in the Concord train station, which was still a train station, but didn't need anything other than the platform upon which Budliners disgorged weary commuters in early evening.

I remember going in and knowing I was going to buy my first album, the first one I was going to decide upon, and that was heavy!

I grew up the youngest of 4 kids, the eldest 11 years older than I. Both my folks loved music, and our house was filled with a range of music that I am still proud of today: From J. J. Mouret to Buck Clayton, Segovia to Ledbelly, Bonnie Raitt to the Beatles, and Paul Simon to Odetta, we owned it all, played it all, and at parties, my folks friends came and dug it all.

But it was 1973 and time for me to contribute. I mighta only been 13, but it was heavy shit to me - I wanted to buy what I wanted to hear, but I knew my whole family would weigh in on my decision - I wasn't gonna buy based solely on that, but it certainly colored my choice!

So, there I was, prowlin' the aisles... I had it down to a Top 4 list, in no particular order: Carol King's Tapestry, The Allman Brothers' Brothers & Sisters, Aerosmith's debut album, and Steely Dan's Can't Buy a Thrill. Now, truth be told, I own 'em all, and have through LPs, tapes, CDs and now hard tracks on my main box, but at the time, I could afford exactly one, so a decision had to be made.

Each of those albums evokes a specific memory, as all good albums do. Carol King reminded me of a whole bunch of great songs she had written, and besides, you had some musicians in that band who were destined to literally define ass-kicking music in the next 20 years, from studio to live, and you can't ever discount that. Danny Korchmar on guitar, Russ Kunkel on Drums, and Merry Clayton singing backups. That band, with Lee Sklar on Bass, would fuel Jackson Browne's legendary Running on Empty tour, establishing levels of sustained musicianship and debauchery rivaled only by the Eagles. Brothers and Sisters I first heard at tennis camp, where I was surrounded for the first time by teenagers up through 18 and counselors in their early 20s; good music and cool discussions were de rigueur and terribly exciting at 13 years of age. Aerosmith I heard for the first time at the first truly good party I ever went to, at John Bott's house. There were hot and cold running cool girls my age for the first time in my history, and I knew instantly that this was a very good thing... And Steely Dan was... how about fucking astounding! The musicianship and sophistication blew my mind: Elliot Randall's chromatic paean on Reelin' in the Years, Everything Denny Dias and Skunk Baxter did, Becker's unconscious bass playing; when I heard that, I'd been "playing the guitar" for 3 years: That was when I knew why I wanted to play and the kind of emotion I wanted to be able to express when so doing. (I ain't even close to it but; maybe, some day...)

Anyway, a lotta pressure on a 13 year old dude, ya know?

I went with Carole King. Learned all the licks and how to sing harmony and what being locked in the pocket means.

And like I said; I own all the other ones too...

No comments: