I can remember it vividly - more vividly, in fact, than such other adolescent landmarks as my first kiss or my high school graduation.
It was a cold, rainy spring morning when I got on the bus and headed for the old Twin Fair store on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. Once there, I made a beeline for the record department, where I spent the next two or three hours examining each and every record album in the store.
Finally, after seemingly endless internal debate, I walked up to the checkout counter and set down my money along with my selections — “The Return of Roger Miller” (the one with “King of the Road”) and the Righteous Brothers’ first album (featuring “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”). They were $2.99 each in mono, a dollar cheaper than the stereo versions.
Those were the very first record albums that I ever bought, and I was immediately hooked. Now, nearly 30 years later, nestled next to thousands of other slabs of 12-inch vinyl that I’ve added to my ever-growing collection, I still have those first two albums.
I guess you could say that those two albums were my personal musical “roots,” although, of course, I didn’t consider those implications at the time, and those well-worn grooves still sound exciting and somehow comforting to me, despite the scratches and pops that have developed over the years.
It got me to wondering what record albums might have initially influenced today’s recording artists. Stay tuned for a sampling of what I discovered.
“I couldn’t afford to buy a whole album, but they used to have 10-inch vinyl records with about five tracks on them that were cheaper than the 12-inch albums. And those were three of the earliest records that I remember having the money to buy.
“One of them was a Barney Kessel record. Another was by Hank Williams. But the very first 45 that I bought was ‘The Ballad of a Teenage Queen’ by Johnny Cash. That was the first actual record that I bought out of my own pocket money. There was a great track on the other side of it, too – ‘Big River’ – with a great guitar riff in it.”
In support of his latest solo album, “Rippin’ Up Time,” the legendary guitarist of the Kinks, Dave Davies takes over the Swyer Theatre at The Egg at 8pm tonight (Monday, October 26) with his own band. Tickets are $59.50.
“No, I don’t remember the first album that I actually bought, but I remember having fiddle records given to me when I was a young lad, and I would learn to play the whole albums.
“There were four specific records that were given to me – the Scottish fiddler Gerry Holland, an Irish fiddler named Sean McGuire, the Canadian fiddler Graham Townsend and the French-Canadian fiddler Jean Carringnon – that were huge influences on me because I just learned all four of the records from start to finish.
“And they were four different, very distinct styles, and each style required a different technique.”
Donnell Leahy teams up with Natalie MacMaster (who also happens to be his wife) for a fab fiddle concert, “Visions from Cape Breton and Beyond,” at The Egg’s Hart Theatre in Albany at 7:30pm on Wednesday (February 25). They will be melding their individual fiddle styles into a whirlwind of traditional and contemporary music featuring their band and dancers. Tickets are $29.50.
“The first album that I bought was the Pearl Jam Ten album.
“But before that, the first album that was given to me was the Paul Simon Graceland album, from my dad. That was a hugely influential album for me, even though it was very different for me. It was the music that made me very aware that there were no boundaries, and that there was such a big world out there with lots of different musics. Paul Simon made it OK to cross-pollinate sounds. His melodies and lyrics combined with the heartbeat of that African music was something that just brought me to a whole other level.”
Josh Groban – singer, actor and the host of yet another network TV singing competition – steps into the spotlight at Tanglewood’s Koussevitzky Music Shed with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra at 7pm on Saturday (August 30) in support of his latest album, All That Echoes.
“It was ‘Penny Lane’ by the Beatles. I bought it for my girlfriend. I don’t even have it. I gave it away immediately.
But the first record that I bought for myself was probably ‘Walk Away Renee’ by the Left Banke. Yeah, that was the first one. I paid 74 cents for it.”
His playing has been heard on over 2,000 albums, garnering him 13 Grammy Awards, three Country Music Association’s Musician of the Year awards, a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association. Dobro master Jerry Douglas leads his band into Nippertown for two shows this week. At 8pm on Wednesday (August 6), he’ll step into the spotlight at Club Helsinki in Hudson ($30). And at 8pm on Friday (August 8), he’ll take over the Swyer Theatre at The Egg in Albany ($28).
“That’s a tough question. I don’t think I can remember. It was probably a Barbra Streisand album, but I can’t really say for certain.”
Singer and Broadway star Linda Eder steps into the spotlight at Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center in Saratoga Springs at 8pm on Saturday (June 21). The concert will be recorded for her upcoming in-concert album, “Linda Live.” Tickets are $65.