Little Steven Van Zandt, What Was the First Album You Ever Bought?

Little Steven
Little Steven

“Up until 1964, I was a music fan, but I don’t remember having more than a dozen singles. I don’t think anybody had a rock ‘n’ roll album or the device to play it on until the Beatles.

The first record I remember buying was Little Anthony and the Imperials’ ‘Tears On My Pillow.’ My Aunt Addie got me the Coasters’ ‘Poison Ivy’ because I used to get it every summer. I also had ‘Charlie Brown’ by then.

My emotional involvement increased a bit when I was 11 or 12 with ‘Twist and Shout’ by the Isley Brothers, ‘Pretty Little Angel Eyes’ by Curtis Lee and ‘Sherry’ by the Four Seasons. Other than those, I had ‘Bristol Stomp’ and ‘You Can’t Sit Down’ by the Dovells, ‘Duke of Earl’ by Gene Chandler, ‘Mack the Knife’ by Bobby Darin, a Dion or two, a Shirelles, a Chiffons and the next four or five Four Seasons singles, of course. My Uncle Sal would introduce me to Smokey Robinson with ‘Going to a Go-Go,’ but that was a bit later.

I didn’t have too many, but I was passionate about the records I had. Believe it or not, I had to re-buy ‘Twist and Shout’ and ‘Sherry’ because I wore them out. A virtual scientific impossibility. I’m sure the wearing out had as much to do with those little boxes we’d carry singles in with no sleeves for protection, but I did play them hundreds of times.

I had my first epiphany some time during the 77th playing of ‘Pretty Little Angel Eyes.’ It was an overwhelming, deeply spiritual, exciting yet calming, warm flood of emotion that I didn’t understand, but I knew it connected me in some permanent way to music. It was either an epiphany or puberty kicking in – I’ll never know – but it was intense.

The first album that I ever bought had to be `Meet the Beatles,’ I would think. That’s actually a very interesting and still revelant question about why somebody actually buys an album rather than a single.

I think it occurs because you’re relating on some other level, you know. You’re relating on some level that is bigger than just the song. You’re into something else. You’re into some kind of relationship with the artist, I think.

For me it certainly must have been ‘Meet the Beatles.’ That was the first album for me. Up until then, it was all singles. And then the Stones’ first album soon after that.

It’s funny, I was having a conversation about this just the other day. I think back, and I loved the Dave Clark Five. Now more than ever, I really appreciate their records. They made phenomenal records. But I never bought a Dave Clark Five album. You know? I bought several of their singles, but I never took that next step to buy an album of theirs. And it’s really very interesting to think about that.

Same thing with the Hollies, too. Fantastic records, just tremendous, but I don’t remember buying a Hollies album.

It’s funny. Something strange was going on. I’m trying to think – the Beatles and the Stones, and then the next thing I remember buying is the Who, which was a year later or so. It’s very interesting what makes people buy an album.”

Little Steven Van Zandt straps on his guitar to play with his boss Bruce Springsteen and the rest of the E Street Band at the Times Union Center in Albany at 7:30pm on Monday (April 16). Tix are $41, $71 and $101.

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