Friday Firesmith – Music

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When I was growing up every family had a radio and most cars and trucks had radios but kids didn’t own anything that could be plugged in. Most houses had one electrical socket in each bedroom and that was it. If a kid was lucky he might have a lamp, but as far as having something that produced sound, well, no. My parents had a turntable and they had four or five albums but they weren’t really into music that much. The radio in the car stayed tuned to whatever my father liked and therefore I liked it too, or didn’t but no one cared.

When my older sister got a turntable for her birthday, and I think she was twelve or thirteen, it was as if someone had walked into the house leading an alien by a leash. Here was a personal music playing device and even though my sister didn’t own any music, and all this thing would play was those small 45’s, but that was heaven enough.

It was an odd thing to be given a choice in music. All the music we had ever heard was on my father’s car radio, or one of those old albums, but when it got right down to it, there wasn’t enough music I had heard to know what I really liked. There weren’t that many radio stations and the older kids all listened to the same music as the adults. When my birthday rolled around I got a turntable, too, and it too played 45’s but it was mine. I just had no idea what music I liked.

I started out with what was popular on the radio, and for a short time anything on the top ten on the radio was enough. But then eight track tapes became more popular and suddenly, there was a lot more music, and some of it was rock and roll. Everyone knew who the Beatles were but we had only heard rumors of what Alice Cooper was like, and what some of the bands like the Rolling Stones sound like.

I lobbied hard for a real turntable, one with two speakers so I could listen to things in “stereo” and I wanted one that would play albums. But my parents wondered if allowing a kid at the age of fourteen to choose his own music, if that wasn’t going too far. My father had a solution to the problem by not allowing us to buy music he wasn’t standing there to see, and it worked. He would shake his head and say, “You don’t like that.” My father did that a lot, explaining to us what we did or didn’t like.

In the Summer of 1975 my mother allowed me to go to a local music store and buy anything I wanted, one album, of any sort, of any music, no holds barred. I had heard Alice Cooper, and this store had one copy of one Cooper album, “Welcome to My Nightmare” I loved it. I played the album until the grooves nearly wore off of it.

Okay, your first album was…?

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

48 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Music”

  1. J. Geils Band – Full House Live. I have now had it in every medium available. If they come up with another one, I’ll get it in that too.

  2. Mike, I’ve often thought music has become too common. There was a time, not so long ago, when you had to ride your horse to the nearby town to hear the musician – or you could sing along with your family. Records, 8-tracks, FM Radio made it so easy to access: iPods and smartphones have made music hard to escape. I’ve had to avoid easy music myself, but that might be about me.

    Not to get overly nostalgic, but are people who listen to music all the time really enjoying it, or are they conditioned to that constant supply of soma?

    • I have wondered about that, actually. When we got three channels on our television set there seemed to be more on than there is now.

      Still, I love classical music so I got about a billion hours of it. I can hit a button and listen all day, and really enjoy it.

      But I hear what you are saying, totally.

  3. Three Dog Night “Live at the Forum”
    First concert: Sly and the Family Stone, homecoming, freshman year at Southern Illinois University

  4. My parents had a console stereo with a record player under the lid. I bought Tarkus…Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Soon, I was forced to buy headphones.

  5. My first record player was also a 45. I remember Charlie Brown, Purple People Eater, Beep Beep and artists Ricky Nelson, Duane Eddy, The Everly Brothers and Chuck Berry plus many others. I also remember taping a nickel to the end of the player arm so that it would not skip. My first album was probably something from Elvis. In the early to mid sixties, it was The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones and Led Zepplin, never the Beatles…

  6. Hey Mike, I don’t remember what my first album was, but I do remember buying lots of 45’s. I was just a kid and bought them on my weekly trip to Woolworth. Before I got serious about music, there was lots of novelty music being made in those days and I remember buying a 45 of “Guitarzan” by Ray Stevens. A few years later I recall buying “Uneasy Rider” by Charlie Daniels Band. The first album that I remember having and actually caring about was “All the World’s a Stage” by Rush. Here’s a link to an article I wrote about music –

    • I remember the days when I could tell you who played what guitar on what album in what band.

      An example.. David Barre played guitar on Jethro Tull’s Aqualung Album, but damn, I forgot what kind now.

      But you’re right, there was once a respect of knowledge that was exceedingly esoteric.

  7. I had various K-tel albums that I had my parent’s order, but the first one I bought on my own was Queen, The Game.

  8. For my twelfth birthday my Dad bought me a Webcor “portable” (still had to plug it in) phonograph, and two 45’s. See Ya Later Alligator by Bill Halley, and 16 Tons by Ernie Ford. He also bought a bunch of big band LPs for he and Mom, so they could use “my” phonograph.
    Probably the first album was The First Family (Vaughn Meader), but I can’t be sure… it was about 1600 albums ago.

  9. Got a Webcor portable phonograph, with 16 Tons (Ernie Ford), and See Ya Later Alligator (Bill Halley) for my 12th birthday. But the first album was probably The First Family (Vaughn Meader) and first music album probably either Blood, Sweat & Tears (Johnny Cash) or the Beatles. It’s hazy because that was some 1600 vinyl LP’s ago.

    • I loved The First Family album. I think I wore that thing out playing it. “Uhhh, Let me sat THIS about THAT.”

  10. I think the first music I could call “mine” was when my mother had bought me “The Beatles” (the “White Album”) on 8-track tapes. Even though I was hoping for either the 1962-1966 or the 1967-1970 tapes, and the “White Album” was a little “odd” for my young ears…I learned to appreciate the diversity of the songs on those tapes, and it’s probably still my favorite Beatles’ album.

    “Sgt Pepper” is probably 4th on my list of favorite Beatles’ albums, behind “Revolver”, “Abbey Road” and “Rubber Soul”. Ha! So much for such a “ground-breaking” album, eh?

  11. I know you don’t care for them, Mike, but I’m sure my first album was Kiss. I believe it was ‘Rock and Roll Over,’ secondhand from a friend’s older brother. My first album bought new with my own money was ‘Alive.’ I was 9 or 10. My family had a newer console record player with an 8-track player in the living room and I got the old, old record player console in my room eventually. Thinking back now, my parents were probably tired of hearing my albums in the living room!

  12. My first record was the Robin Hood sound track (Disney) I was about 3 years old. My family was always into music. My first real music was a Kiss album, I think like Scoakat, it was Rock and Roll Over. I also had a collection of 45s with those little plastic doohickeys so you could play them on a regular turntable.
    My mom had everything from Chuck Berry to Elvis to Patsy Cline to Johnny Cash to Hank Snow to Willie Nelson to the Everly Brothers to Ray Charles. I grew up surrounded by music. My grandmother used to love Nat King Cole. I still love him to this day, it makes me miss her.

      • Well, Kiss fans have been ridiculed and made fun of since the seventies for liking them. Almost 40 years later the band survives still, and we have our satisfaction. Now, if they only would have known when to quit…

      • I was a big Kiss fan when I was a teenager, but it didn’t really have too much to do with their music. It was just a angst-filled freak show for me(I saw them live in ’77) However, the fact that they have NOT been inducted into the R&R hall of fame, along with Deep Purple, Rush and a whole slew more iconic bands (and people like Madonna have), is baffling.

    • My mother hates metal music, I think she heard quite a bit of it coming from my room when I was a teenager, I bet she could sing every AC/DC song that was out by 1983 (Big Balls), at one point she and my stepfather were plotting to take my music. Then the walkman came out and saved us all.

  13. I think the first album I owned was a gift from my godmother. I was around 10 or 11, and when I opened it in front of everyone, it turned out to be (don’t laugh) The Four Seasons greatest hits. I’d never heard of them, but I played the crap out of that album because it was MINE!

    I think the first album I actually bought might have been The Beach Boys. Like MCW, I was more into the 45s. The store where I took clarinet lessons had a record section, and I’d buy a 45 as often as I could with my allowance. By the time I broke that habit, I had around 300 of them. I think I still have most of them somewhere down in the dungeon.

    • I think when we are young, especially us geezers, the first music was good simply because of the ownership factor and there was so little to chose from to begin with.

  14. My grandmother gave me an AM radio for my sixth birthday in 1959. I listened to all the top stars of the day, Elvis, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly & The Crickets, etc. etc. Back in those days, it was nearly impossible for black musicians to get airtime. The first time that I heard Sam & Dave, Little Richard, Otis Redding, and Chuck Berry, I knew that music would be a very important part of my life. I became a musician in elementary school, and have been in bands ever since.
    My first real paying gig was in 1969 at age 16, playing rhythm guitar in my dad’s square dance band for Freshmen Orientation at UNC-Chapel Hill (Go Tarheels!) with about a thousand students attending. I currently play percussion in a classic rock/soul/blues band across central NC.

  15. “My mom had everything from Chuck Berry to Elvis to Patsy Cline to Johnny Cash to Hank Snow to Willie Nelson to the Everly Brothers to Ray Charles”… Same here Chick. Maybe we’re sisters? I discovered my mom’s 45’s and remember singing along to all of those and more. The Peppermint Twist, My Beautiful Balloon, Dean Martin. The first album I ever received? Bobby Sherman. Shortly after, my neighbor (baby sitter) turned me on to Janis Joplin. Later my Mom broke my 45 of Cecelia because it was ‘dirty’. I wonder what she would have done if she’d known I’d been listing to Joplin? I begged for The Monkey’s (Mom still said no). The first album I ever bought on my own was Cher’s Gypsy’s Tramps and Thieves. Then Kiss and Willie Nelson. Ahhh, musical memories.

  16. I was born in the age of casette tapes, and I asked my dad for a walkman. My first album that I distinctly remember picking off the shelves was the Spice Girls. And then a few years on, I switched to Disturbed. 😛

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