Whether it came as a cassette, vinyl, mp3s, eight-track or compact disc, and whether you purchased it because your sister had it, because you had your first allowance to spend or because you were simply tired of only being able to hear that one song on that one radio station, the first collection of recordings you ever purchased was surely a fundamental part of your musical-listening career—for better or worse.
We asked 14 musicians to recall the first record they ever remember purchasing and how they see its influenced their own music.
1. Matt Helders
The Arctic Monkeys
Artist: It was a CD, probably Oasis
Album: Be Here Now
Why did you purchase this record? I probably bought Be Here Now because I had an older brother and he’d already bought everything else. So I just used to listen to his CDs. So actually, it was probably quite later on so it was probably the third record. I obviously had the first two records of Oasis as well, but like I said, I was sharing in those days.
2. Merrill Garbus
Album: Cassingle of Can’t Help Falling in Love
Why did you purchase this record? I remember having a lot of records before 1993 when this came out, but I think this may have been the first one I purchased. I must have been hearing it on the radio a lot and when I grew tired of missing the first 12 seconds dubbing it from Z100 I went to Gramophone Records in New Canaan, Conn., and spent my middle-school allowance on it.
How has it affected your own music? Why did I love this song so much? It’s when the beat drops, good god... with a sentimental opening line and then a breath of silence before that hip ‘90s beat comes in with a crash. It’s still so good. Also, this was the time in middle school when all the kids had discovered dirty dancing, i.e. dancing with one knee between the other person’s legs and this was the song the kids were doing that do. Totally hot. (For other, more popular kids of course—there was no knee between my legs until well into college.) I totally use that, “ohhhh, SHIT!” moment when the beat drops in a song… all the time. I think the horns in that song also affected me. They definitely bring it over the edge to a new level of drama and high-intensity. I suppose my middle-school self is still wanting to have these mysterious, sensual, powerful experiences through music, especially when real life isn’t always as forthcoming with such bliss.
3. Albert Hammond Sr.
Artist: Buddy Holly
Album: The “Chirping” Crickets
Why did you purchase this record? Buddy Holly was my idol. That was my influence at the time, in 1956. I dreamed of coming into the music industry. Buddy Holly was a pre-artist on his own. I believe I was 12 years old when I purchased the album. Buddy Holly was an artist who didn’t complicate chords on a song. It was so easy. I asked my barber who then taught me how to play… A-D-E.
How has it affected your own music? That was my influence in my career.
4. Ian O’Neil
Artist: Green Day
Why did you purchase this record? Probably because they had a reputation I’d heard from friends and cousins. The cover also made a statement of its own.
How has it affected your own music? The album linked punk with pop. A very useful tool.
5. Chris Chu
POP ETC (The Morning Benders)
Artist: BOYZ II MEN
Album: II (on cassette at a Blockbuster music.)
Why did you purchase this record? I remember hearing it at the listening station. It was at #1 and about 30 seconds into “Thank You” the first song on the album. I bought it, went home and listened to it nonstop. I bought it because it made me feel good. I loved their voices. I loved the melodies. I loved the heart they put into it.
How has it affected your own music? It’s difficult to answer this third part since there were so many ways…. but I think II has impacted the way I make music in a pretty profound way, mainly in the way that the voice is used. They all had such amazing voices—the main melody/hooks were always important and performed beautifully, but the harmonies and background vocals were just as important—using voices to create different textures. Harmonizing the same melody in different ways over the course of a song to bring out different colors, etc.
6. Beth Tacular
Artist: Milli Vanilli
Album: Girl You Know It’s True
Why did you purchase this record? I was devastated to find out my first album purchase was a fake.
How has it affected your own music? This impacted my future life and music in no way whatsoever.
7. Phil Moore
Artist: Jesus Jones
How has it affected your own music? It was a pretty great first album and set the tone for the rest of my music-listening times.