Our writer Julianne somehow convinced all of us to reveal the first album we ever bought and what it means to us. OK... so it wasn't THAT hard...
The tendency to scoff at our musical choices of yore (or maybe just last year, if you really dug that Train album) is commonplace. Yet at the same time, no matter how embarrassing it is to confront how worn out that Dashboard Confessional disc was, I still unabashedly love it. There's nothing that can sever the ties. The first album we've all ever purchased holds impenetrable value. The first twinges of the title track transport us back to the past, when things were simpler, Walkmens were new-fangled and/or cool, and parts of the songs we never fully understood were the most cherished.
Julianne: Savage Garden, Affirmation
It was 1999. Twelve agonizing months until Y2K, which for all we knew at the time, could've been the end of the world. My mother bought cases of water and kept them in our shower. My dad purchased Will Smith's Will 2K
for me, because I really wanted it and also I figured it was a good thing to listen to prepare myself. Will 2K
joined the sole album in my burgeoning collection, the one I proudly paid for with all my own weekly allowance at the cashier counter at Target. This album was Savage Garden's sophomore effort Affirmation
. I was prompted by my unexplainable mystic fixation to the song "I Knew I Loved You." Just how could Darren Hayes know he loved Kirsten Dunst
before he met her? Was he a time traveler, a magician? Did you learn those skills when you got older? At eight years old, I took everything very literally.
It's a good thing I didn't understand the concept of metaphor framed by Hayes' cringe-worthy falsetto in these songs, whose saucy titles range from "Hold Me," "Chained to You," "The Animal Song," (not about animals but instead about ...uh..."compassion in your hands") and "Two Beds and a Coffee Machine." Instead of inquiring what the lyrics said or meant, this album showed me how easy it is to get lost in romanticized songs, so much that I could dream up situations as a grown-up. They felt to me like songs for my future life, when I could listen to gleaming soft guitar-pop while driving around in my pink Barbie convertible.
Stefanie: William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet: Music from the Motion Picture
I remember it like it was yesterday. My best friend Julie and I were browsing at a Tower Records in a suburb in Northern California looking to be naughty. The options were plentiful, but my fourth grade class had just put on a production of Hamlet
and I had just begun a (still continuing) obsession with Shakespeare. Naturally, my heart flamed with desire when I saw this album cover with teen heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo and some dirty sounding songs listed on the back ("Garbage"? "One Inch Punch"?). I wasn't disappointed, as Julie and I huddled over my CD player, the first song let out the moans of a sexy woman and a cool sounding bass line. Oh, yes. So began a lifelong obsession with deliciously naughty music.
Ed: The New Radicals, Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too
One of the first albums I remember buying myself was 1998's Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too
by The New Radicals. I remember seeing the video for "You Get What You Give," which is still awesome, and remember thinking "I want more of this." I asked my mom to take me to the store and she obliged me. I got that bright yellow case in my hands and couldn't wait to listen to it. And I listened and listened. My headphones were glued to my head for two weeks straight. I even started to wear a hat like the singer. I haven't listened to the album in years but I still vividly remember how cool I thought it was.
Joe: Blink-182, Enema of the State
The first album is kind of a tell, revealing both age and a variety of important, sometimes embarrassing building blocks for your ear. Luckily for me, aside from my (totally understandable, shut up) pop-punk obsession, my Dad forced a love of both The Stones and Mozart, which kept me humbled in just how vast the world of appreciable music can be. Charles Mingus, Madonna, Kanye West, romantic era Mussorgsky, Destiny's Child, and other odd bedfellows were the starting point for my first Napster raid (I was a weird kid, going from "Jumpin Jumpin" to "The Great Gate of Kiev" and back). But the first time I exchanged my own legal tender for a piece of musical merchandise, it a copy of Blink-182s Enema of the State
. I'll never forget my dad's face as he spied the sexy nurse on the cover, (her?). Later in my adolescent life, my parents would sit through at least one of the sketches on the Blink-182 live album I accidentally left in my car (full of masturbation, sex abuse, pedophilia, and other sophomoric humor from characters like Satan). I'm surprised they still love me.
Jokes aside (from my own life and from the Blink humor mill), Enema
is the perfect time capsule for a weird, awkward, nerdy kid. Its full of the teenage angst that would go on to define my wonder years of high-school, "Going Away To College", "All The Small Things", these songs grew to be a very specific part of my childhood. The emo-ennui of "Adam's Song", the perceived fun of "The Party Song" (I'll be that cool one day!), the subtle philosophical mystery of "Anthem", all thrown in a blender and molded into perfect three-minute shots of power-chords and catchy riffs. Perfect for a kid who didn't understand Kid A
yet and went to a Fall Out Boy concert expecting them to NOT suck. Man, those were the days.
David P: The Beastie Boys Licensed To Ill
OK. So I'm pretty proud of the seven year old version of myself for this one. He was a pretty crafty little kid. Here's why. The Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill
was the most extreme thing I had ever heard in my life. I come across it courtesy of an older friend, an almost teenage type person playing the album while our parents socialized in the kitchen. Dude was immediately the coolest person on the planet and Licensed to Ill
was an immediate object of my desire. I mean, who the hell were these guys rapping about Brass Monkeys, Paul Revere, and some far flung place called Brooklyn? I had to have it. But no money and a reliance on my parents for a ride to the local Sam Goody made things tricky. So I devised a scheme that went something like this. Destroy the Abba tape I had just received from my parents for Christmas (um, I had probably asked for it), return it as faulty merchandise, and exchange it for Licensed to Ill
. The plan worked perfectly. My only mistake? Playing "Girls" a little too loud in my bedroom one fateful afternoon. Unfortunately my mom heard it and I never saw that cassette tape again.
And our fearless leader!
David M: ?
The advantage of my courterparts in this post is that their first album was not a distant memory. Also unlike the rest of my crew my first album was on Vinyl and not some cold hard digital format. I was endlessly worried about keeping the albums clean and scratch free. I had the deluxe "Discwasher" set up to ensure every play was free of dust and other foreign objects. I obsessed about wearing albums out with repeat use.
My first album purchase is lost in the haze of the late '60s and early '70s. At first I pillaged my parents record collection and was distressed to find an album entitled "Songs to Enterain Your Husband With." The cover art was a woman in a negligee with a man in business attire walking through the front door. Once I was done with visual / mental trauma I found Simon and Garfunkels' Bridge Over Troubled Water
and got deeply into their sound.
My early album purchases were focused on collectibles. I had a Dave Mason album where the vinyl was swirls of cream and brown. Led Zeppelin, "Led Zeppelin IV" in hot pink vinyl. Grand Funk Railroad in the special album where you opened up the cover and the band was perched on hay bales in the nude. This special and in some cases tasteless collection grew to fill crates and crates in my room and was this single heaviest item that traveled with me to college. Sadly, this collection gathered dust after college in my mother's attic and when she called me to come and retireve it, I declined and the collectible vinyl and naked bands went into the trash.