Some of my earliest memories involve music. Hell, I even remember the first 45 rpm I ever bought, for those of you who want to know what it was; it was Charlie Daniels Band “The Devil Went Down to Georgia. The first vinyl album I ever got was a gift to me from my cousin Billy, it was Styx “Grand Illusion”, and the first album I ever bought with my own money was Led Zepplin IV. The first band I ever bought all of their vinyl when I could afford it was AC/DC and then Rush. The first time I met my childhood girlfriend, I was playing basketball in my driveway and listening to Mozart’s “Requiem” on public radio simply because I could not get the rock station on my small transistor radio that I had sitting at the foot of the basketball hoop in my families’ driveway in Green Bay.
To say that music is important to me is a minor understatement. I love music and mostly all music seems to have some place in my life, even some rap. But I have to say, I have yet to discover in my unfathomable CD and vinyl collection any type of POP music. That being said, my daughter is a big fan of POP music and sometimes I wonder where I went wrong. However, the fact that she listens to music and plays music comforts the blow of music I feel has very little impact in life is a bonus to me.
Sidetrack…. The first rap song I ever heard was by The Rapping Duke, some of you older kids may remember that album. But, I digress… onward.
Tonight, while at work, insane amounts of memories came flooding into my mind as I stood in the kitchen of the restaurant I work in. The first song they played was “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and the memory that filled my mind was sitting in my house in Green Bay and pulling the 45 off the denim turn table with fold out denim speakers while sitting on my older sisters bed, then pulling off the little red plastic chip that fit inside the hole on the 45 and placing Led Zepplin IV on the turn table and the first guitar licks of “Black Dog” came pumping out of the speakers. My youngest sister, who was about 3, came bouncing into the basement and jumped on the bed and directly on top of Charlie Daniels record sitting next to my thigh. The record broke and with it, my heart. Thinking back now, I am sure I responded inappropriately and with anger. I had bought that disk for .99 cents at a local record store and it had become a symbol of my upcoming independence. My two older sisters tried to calm me down and even comfort me, but I was having none of it. I wanted my record back.
My anger and frustration was not lulled by the amazing sounds coming out of the monotone speakers. Eventually I calmed down, but I never did finish that listening session of Led Zepplin, I simply put the album back in its sleeve and then put it in the album cover. I then went upstairs to my room and tried to memorize the lyrics to “Stairway to Heaven” on the fold out cover. By the time I had enough money to go back up to the record store to replace my broken 45 months had passed and when I walked into the store I was greeted with a new favorite sound. The music of Molly Hatchet, I quickly found the album and bought it along with Led Zepplin II. When I got home I placed both albums on the Hi-Fi in the living room, first the Hatchet album and then the Zepplin album. While I loved “Flirtin’ With Disaster” the rest of the album left me wanting but when Zepplin II dropped and I heard John Bonom’s “Moby Dick” I was hooked. A few weeks later I picked up Zepplin III.
All that is history, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that I discovered AC/DC and their great sounds. I became a member of a record club and bought albums when I had money. By the time I moved in with my father in Two Rivers I had a pretty respectable collection. But then Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Recourse Center “PMRC” started to burn records and my father and his wife jumped on board. In order to safeguard my music, most of which were on the PMRC burn list, The house, which was rented, had several upgrades to it which included a basement bedroom with a dropped ceiling, which is where I hid my album collection.
A few months after I hid the albums we moved. During the move I forgot all about my albums. After the move, when I realized I had forgotten my music I tried to go back and get them, but the people that lived there would not allow me in the house to get them. In my mind I believe they are still in sitting on four ceiling tiles in that basement, slowly rotting over the past thirty years.
The only saving grace to my predicament was the consumer introduction of the Sony Walkman and Boomboxes that played cassette tapes. I worked hard to rebuild my old collection as well as add Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Beatles and many more bands to my tape collection. There was so much good rock music that my friends and I would end up buying different cassettes and dubbing them for each other. And, while it was great to be able to listen to the music that spoke to me as loud as I wanted, whenever I wanted, I still missed dropping the needle on an album and listening to all the pops and crackles coming from the speakers before the music came pumping out of the speakers.
Today, I find myself with a pretty respectable digital collection of my favorite music yet I still miss the sounds of the vinyl. Which brings me to where I am today, you see, a few months ago at a local flea market a new vendor showed up with six milk crates filled with rock albums of the 70’s and 80’s. In the pile of cardboard and vinyl I discovered Zepplin IV and Zepplin II along with Molly Hatchet’s “Flirtin’ With Disaster” Album. I bought the Zepplin’s but passed on the Hatchet, I had to, simply because some crazy owner had written all over the cover of the sleeve. There was also a decent Rolling Stones “Some Girls” album. I almost bought it, but it was missing the album sleeve with the transvestite photos of the band members.
My middle age is approaching faster than I can ride my motorcycle and I find myself trying to rebuild my lost memories of my youth through the music that comforted me, kept me sane and helped me deal with all the growing pains and angst I was unsuccessfully able to contain. The albums I’ve purchased, which numbers into the teens now, all are finding homes in album frames I purchase from a craft store and then hang on a wall at work. Amongst the aforementioned albums there are several Bruce Springsteen albums, the Beatles “White” album, Twisted Sister albums, The Who’s “Tommy” and many more. I hope to soon be able to look at that wall, see the amazing cover art, turn on my MP3 player and listen to the music that not only speaks to me from a young, inexperienced Skip, but also fill my soul with the fantastic journey from obtuse youth to myopic young adult to the journeyman I am becoming.
Have a great week, now go listen to the first song you made out to. (Mine was “Sad Eyes” with a girl named Rhonda.)