The Album that Changed You
am I the only person who hasn’t experienced this?
People, mostly audiophile friends of mine, talk about the first album that blew them away with such passion and detail. They talk about precisely what was going on when they first heard it, how it physically moved them (goosebumps), and seemed to change the elemental composition of their brain and thoughts. Some even take this revelation to the metaphysical, saying they’ll now operate in a totally different way from henceforth, and every encounter and experience will be measured (especially musically) against this new bar.
Jealous of their passion and, quite honestly, feeling left out of these conversations (which is even more embarrassing since I’m a musician; I mean, how can I truly love music if I can’t talk about this?), I essentially tricked myself into an Abbey Road story. That is to say, I dug deep for a memory of an album – any album at all – that I specifically remember hearing for the first time and had some feeling – any feeling at all – about it. So I talked about working as a busboy, at about 14, when one of the cooks tossed on Abbey Road. Somewhere before Here Comes the Sun, I turned to him to say, “Wait. This is The Beatles?” See, I’ve heard The Beatles. The lads who did cheesy love songs like Love Me Do and Hold Your Hand. But not these Beatles. So I bought the record, then The White Album, then Revolver, and then obsession kicked in.
I figured this story was plausible enough. It must be what they were all talking about. I just didn’t react quite as extremely as they had. Yeah, that’s it.
Fastforward about 15 years and I’m searching for old blues stuff at second-hand stores and garage sales constantly. (Delta blues is my current obsession.) When I find one, I head home, toss it on, and plop on the couch. I’m sure you can picture it: one leg arched up, the other dangling off the arm rest, one arm laying flat, and the other draped across my closed-eyes face, just to ensure no amount of light gets beyond the eyelids. Then it happened. This thing so many others had spoken of.