I love music.
This may be the most understated thing I will say all year. Long-time readers of this blog probably figured out a long time ago that most of my non-work trips start with me going, “Ooh, a concert I want to see!” I’ve talked a great deal about music on this blog already- I’ve talked about They Might Be Giants, and Leonard Cohen, and Eurovision. I ‘ve posted about musicals in general, and about Starlight Express and A Chorus Line in particular. I’ve also talked about my first ever concert (New Edition), and about my memories of the Ghostbusters soundtrack in that glorious red plastic Arista case back in 1984.
And of course there’s a page on this blog that I keep updating to show the artists that I’ve seen play live.
I’ll say it again: I love music. I need music. If I don’t listen to music for a while, I can get downright cranky. It’s as vital to me as breathing, and I go to concert after concert after concert for the love of music, even though I hate crowds and I have a fair amount of travel anxiety. I can’t not go. (FOMAC, or Fear of Missing a Concert, is an entirely different blog post that I may come back to later. Shut up, it’s a real thing!)
With that introduction in mind, I want to talk about music throughout various parts of my life. I’ll start at the very beginning.
My earliest memory of music, any music, was all the way back in 1978. I was five years old, and I remember being in some sort of a school or daycare center or something along those lines- it wasn’t a usual place for me. I was waiting near some other kids while we picked up one of my siblings. The kids I was hanging out near were playing with original first-generation Star Wars action figures. I remember they made me be C3PO. While we played with the Star Wars toys, there was a radio on.
There were two songs in heavy rotation on the radio at that time, and they were the first songs to ever penetrate my tiny little head. Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana,” and John Paul Young’s “Love Is In The Air.”
Those two songs played back to back. I can’t remember ever hearing music before that day. I’m sure I did, but I don’t remember it.
I also recall the very first album that I ever owned. When I was ten years old, there were advertisements in the back of comic books that said that if you sell stuff from their crappy catalog, you could win prizes. This company sent an army of tiny Willy Lomans (Lomen?) door to door to sell magazine subscriptions, Christmas cards, pecan turtles, and wrapping paper. With enough sales, you could get yourself a tent, a bicycle, or any number of other “fabulous prizes.” It took a hell of a lot of sales to get anything substantial, but in 1983, I used my hard-earned prize bucks to get a voucher for a cassette tape from one of those music places like Columbia House or BMG, only not quite as obnoxious. That first album? I was grooving to “Future Shock” by Herbie Hancock.
I had seen the video for Rockit, of course, and the kicking-pants robots made me want to dance. Or something. The entire album turned out to be really phenomenal, but I didn’t appreciate it nearly as much in 1983 as I do now.
My mom got me the second album I ever owned- we were in a Richway, which was sort of like the larval form of the retail chain now known as Target. Richway’s parent company sold all of their stores to Dayton-Hudon Corporation around 1988, and that company closed all the stores, stripped them for parts, and then reopened most of them as Target stores. The specific Richway from this story is actually some other non-Target store, according to Wikipedia.
But I digress. We were in Richway, in West Palm Beach, Florida, in 1984. It was an amazing day for eleven-year-old Steven because not only did I get my first transforming toy there, a red Gobot sports-car named Turbo, but Mom also bought me a cassette of Rockwell’s first album. Again, I was familiar only with the first single released, a popular song called “Somebody’s Watching Me,” which had Michael Jackson on backup vocals. The rest of the album was a lot of fun, though, and I still listen to it sometimes. “Obscene Phone Caller” was always one of my favorites songs, even though it would be years before I actually understood how pervy the song really is.
What was your first album? Your first concert? The first song you remember hearing?
11 thoughts on “Music History: Firsts”
I remember buying music while still in elementary school. I made regular trips to Musicland, in the mall, when I was probably 9 years old. I bought a lot of K-tel albums, and a lot of singles. For albums, can’t remember which I bought first, but I owned a variety of music: The Doors Greatest Hits; Moody Blues Long Distance Voyager; ELO’s Discovery; Donna Summer’s Greatest Hits all come to mind.
My parents weren’t keen on concerts, and the closest were over an hour away. So, no concerts until adulthood.
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First cassette tape: not 100% sure, but I think it was NKOTB
First CD: the day I bought myself a CD player with my babysitting money, I also bought two CDs, the Romeo & Juliet soundtrack, and the Wallflowers.
First concert: I was 10 or 11, and Janet Jackson on the ‘janet’ tour. I am still gobsmacked that my parents let me go to that.
Also, pretty sure these choices make me extreeeeemely basic. I assume pumpkin spice latte mix will be delivered to my house now, yes?
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I think those choices just mean you had a pretty typical early musical life. I have other friends who were all-in on NKOTB. And the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack has some really great stuff on it. I still love Quindon Tarver’s cover of When Doves Cry from that.
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Thankfully I got a solid dose of Oldies and classic rock from my parents so that balanced out the early boy band influence, haha. And I totally agree… that soundtrack was solid. Now to see if I still have it on here or was lost in the great computer crash of 2010…
Ha! Still have it. And now that I’m listening to that song, I don’t think it was on the original CD that I bought. It is a bop though 🙂
They put that one on the “volume 2” soundtrack- Baz Luhrmann films tend to get more than one soundtrack, it seems. They did the same thing with Moulin Rouge.
Fun fact: Richway briefly became Gold Circle which then became Target. I only know because my mom was employed by Richway and Gold Circle but Target chose not to hire her.
My first two albums that I bought were Annie: the Musical and Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell. Yep, diverse music tastes from the get go.
Ah, that explains the Gold Circle photo- I didn’t take the time to check the date of the photo I linked, because I was writing this pretty late last night. And I would probably dig Meat Loaf in the lead role of an Annie revival. “It’s a hard knock liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiife!:
i was born in 1970 and have a sister born in 1962 whose music choice was my introduction into the world of music. Some of my earliest memories are “Born To Be Alive” by Patrick Hernandez and “Hotel California” by the Eagles. There is about three years between these two songs but I guess the Eagles album was already a few years old when my sister and I listened to it. And then there is the album “The Kick Inside” by Kate Bush. I am getting goose bumps while writing this: it is my personal epiphay, musically speaking. I still love this album and listen to it maybe once a year, over 40 years after I heard it for the first time. Strangely enough I cannot recall which was the first album I ever bought myself.
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I fully agree; Kate Bush is always a good listen.
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