Tracks In The Dust

A Father's Advice About Learning the Mission of Life

Archive for the tag “The Beatles”

Do You Remember Your First Record Album?

There is such an eclectic bunch of music going on in my head these days. I have been reflecting back on those days when I got my first “record player” and then again when I got my first stereo record player.

Favoite Music

When I was a kid, I resorted to using my parent’s HI-fi console, complete with cloth covered speakers and walnut finish…and a spindle turntable with a drop down function that would allow you to play  a number of 33 rpm vinyl records or with the adapter it would accept 45 rpm singles too. The sound was just incredible for its day (nothing like now of course). Once the tubes warmed, up it was a great way to blast the 15 watts of power I’d guess it had.

So I remember firsts with albums based on what it was played on.

On my parents console;  “Introducing the Beatles” on Vee Jay records got worn out by the needle before I got a new copy. It was just the greatest album I had ever heard. Even remember begging my dad to loan me the money (under $4) to buy it at the local department store.

My first record player was all plastic, all in one portable player with 2 speakers ( but mono I think). When I got it I was certainly special to me. I shudder to think that anything would last long with the wear and tear the turntable would have likely induced. “The Monkees” first LP was introduced to my new portable plastic dream!

My first stereo was actually a hand-me down from my brother, but certainly welcomed as it was very “stereophonic” set, entrenched in my own room. A Zenith brand all in one system with separate speakers that fired upward with a cone-shaped thing above them to distribute the sound. The important thing with that was that was also the first time I owned “headphones” (take that Beats). The White Album by the Beatles became a favorite that Christmas season and I fondly remember the headphones making  semi-permanent marks in my skull.

When I finally had a job of my own I invested in my first “real” stereo system, after shopping carefully and deciding I was never going to be able to actually afford the McIntosh equipment I fell in love with at the Hi-Fi Fo Fum, I did get my JVC amplifier and tuner and a great turntable from Technics (I wish I had- it was totally manual with a weighted platter- just what the DJ’s use today). The EPI bass reflex speakers helped to make “Pink Floyd” Dark Side of the Moon one of the frequent players. That system ended up fueling many house parties in the future before its retirement.

So I do remember my first record album, but I also recall the equipment that made it such.

Technically my first album I owned was probably a Perry Como album. But later in life, with 1000’s of LPs later, I fondly remember the music and the times.

What is your first recollection?

The Music That Echoes

I always loved the ending of The Beatles Abbey Road:  ” The love you take is equal to the love you make

Sort of like another song : “What what comes around goes around.”  It really became one of my favorite musical statements. It was the reminder at the end of a turbulent decade that we still could cherish the golden rule- do on to others as you would have them do on to you (or something like that). Love they neighbor as you would love yourself.

FM Radio Dial

There is so much music that has become woven into the fabric of my life- how about yours? 

But there are times when you may remember getting burned, you may find yourself asking “how did I get here?”. Sort of like Talking Heads “life in wartime” – same as it ever was, same as it ever was.,

But the sounds contain the soundtrack, that bounces into the stratosphere of your remembrances. It is the music hitting the angles of my living room right now.

Listening to thoughtful music that once seemed like the ingredients of that “hippie hopefulness” of a younger time. Does that mean I don’t believe it now. No, I think I believe it more now than ever, but when you get older and life gets more serious I suppose it makes it harder. Neil Young may tell you not to “let it bring you down, it’s only castles burning”. More an echo now that the dream it may seem to once have been.

So I will escape. ” Be a free man in Paris, unfettered and alive. No one calling me up for favors, no one’s future to decide.” ( thanks Joni). It will be a short trip down the road I am going before I get there. It will be the travel music that will keep me sane, it will be the soundtrack that will put a song with a moment and indelibly inject it into my memory as “that time when….” It will show up in the background at the mall, in the movie credits, on the radio in the car, or just when things are quiet and my mind wanders…

What is your life’s sound track sound like?

I know this is all random. But it is like all the songs that reach out, streaming from a website like a “sonic cocktail”  that can take you on a trip though time. Sorry for the free-form random song-dropping. But that’s how it is.

It can capture a feeling… It can make you recall things that are just an echo in your mind that suddenly reappear.

Musical Moments In Time

It is kind of profound really. I did my best to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles playing on American TV for the first time. I can tell you that I remember right where I was on that night, playing with some elementary school friends who were the children of my parents best friends.

Beatles Pix

We all huddled around the black and white 19″ TV in their living room and stared and smiled. We boys were too manly to scream. My parents and their friends shook their heads in disbelief that these mop-haired musicians were so popular. They were sure that it would pass, this would be a novelty. Like the icons of the 50’s – they would burn out and something else would replace them also. But we found out later they were not replaceable. They were indelible and made a lasting impression on my life, and so many others of my generation.

Those impressions lasted. I have passed the torch in a way, and showed my children the simplicity of their music, the pure construction of the early years, the experimentation era and the ironic struggles to Get Back as they quickly disintegrated as the fab 4. It was the music, it is the music that has held up. I hear it in the songs and artist my children happily introduce me to. There are so many good ones actually. It takes a true musician to construct pop music that will last beyond the next pre-fabricated musical trends.

I clearly remember every album as they arrived. What I was doing and where I was. Long playing vinyl records that had 2 sides and in many cases didn’t last past 30 odd minutes in total. But there it was in the record bins. When I was younger I even purchased the “mono” versions instead of the stereo versions because it was an affordable $1-2 less than the stereo.

Looking back now I even bought my first (not last) copy of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band in mono. I sat and listened to it that summer, over and over and sponged up the sounds that were so fresh and different that I had to keep playing them again. And the album came with the “words”- so even more than the music, you could enjoy the meaning as well as the tune. The album came with lavish cover art and cut-outs that made the physical album itself an experience.

I will always see The Beatles as the musicians who helped move my world from black and white to color. Helped me explore the music beyond the 20 songs constantly played on the AM radio. Helped me to consider the possibilities for popular music today and I can still them in the new artists music. Like so many other musicians at the time and since, they have paved the way for the music and the experience for my children and theirs in the future. Thanks to those iconic guys.

The Day The Music Died

For those of us who love music… we likely all have music heroes.

Imagine

There are those musicians who perform and write music that hits our psyche, those who make a certain time in our lives more than special. There are those musicians who have been present in our lives for a long-span of it, and continue to be part of the soundtrack of our lives over the rest of it.

Music is a thread for me that has been present in one way or another for as long as I can remember.  I had music at my fingertips since I was old enough to play those yellow plastic 78 rpm records and 45 rpm records with the big hole in the middle on a little record player I had in my bedroom. I remember when my brother gave me his old “transistor radio” that actually allowed me to travel with music everywhere I went. It was the beginning of a discovery of the variety of music in the world. Easy listening, classical, country – you name it. In particular rock and roll was in its infancy stages when I was quite young. I was enamored with the same hits that all older teens were listening to, and wanted to play it every waking hour.

I learned about The Beatles there. In 1963 I had in my hand a $3.99 LP that my dad helped me buy from the local department store called “Introducing the Beatles”.  A brown almost old fashioned themed cover on an odd label (V Jay) with 4 guys  pictured on it that if they had shorter hair could have been the 4 Freshman, but they weren’t- they were significantly different.

From that moment on I was willing to consume all of the British invasion – take in every nuance of reference to the Merseybeat, to the mods and sods of English ruffians. But no matter what – the Beatles were my central soundtrack. Through the 60’s as I was growing up, they were growing up too. They were moving the culture of a generation of music, others were following. Even in the initial times of the late 60’s rock renaissance explosion, the Beatles were the royalty of the rock music that had become so diverse in such a short time.

So I here I am. Fifty years later. Still the fan of a group that has long since passed as music is depicted today. No wrecking ball, no electronic drums, no voice boxes.

What I miss terribly are all the years that we lost when John Lennon was assassinated so early in his life. Like many before him and many since, there was a lot of music to consume in such a short time. But imagine what it would be if he had survived to be the senior musician his famous writing partner has become. What would we have experienced?

That day in December 1980 will be indelibly in my mind. I was actually broadcasting on a local small town college radio station at the time. I spent the entire night with listeners who called in with disbelief as we listened to his music and remembered the day that made the music live for us. The music died that day. I still will remember it, hope many others do too.

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