April 17, 2012

RSD Countdown: Three Albums That Changed My Life

Today's Record Store Day countdown guest post comes from my dear friend, ex-roomie and basically-sister Christine Cote! If anyone knows anything about music across a variety of genres, it's this girl. Enjoy!

Growing up, the majority of the music I listened to fell in the Christian Rock, Country or Top 40 genres. When I was really little I would spend afternoons on my Mem’s front porch listening to the local country station, playing cards and eating Chewy Chips Ahoy cookies. Over time my older sister and her friends began listening to Top 40 and my afternoons were filled with Mariah Carey and Teen Bop magazines. I went through the NSYNC phase, swearing to my grave that I’d always love them more than The Backstreet Boys. I loved everything from Hanson to Matchbox Twenty to Ace of Base. It wasn’t until I was 15 that I began to see beyond radio hits and the latest Christian Punk band (however, Relient K will always be great). At the end of 2004 Relient K released the album Mmhmm and every Tuesday leading up to the release date they would post a new song to their Purevolume.com page. Up until this point I had no idea Purevolume even existed. Because of Relient K (as I’m typing this I’m realizing how much I owe those guys) I discovered Eisley. I listened to three songs on repeat for months, “Telescope Eyes”, “I Wasn’t Prepared”, and “Lost At Sea” which were available for stream on their Purevolume site.
Their album Room Noises released in February of 2005 and it was all I could talk about for months. Room Noises was the first album I heard that made me stop and consider every aspect of each song. For the first time that I can remember music was no longer just a good song, a happy melody or a fun beat; I was appreciating music as art. I began to not just hear music, but experience music as something emotional and meaningful; something deeper than just noise filling my ears. I read and re-read lyrics, considering their meaning, the imagery and how I could possibly relate or understand them. Of course this is all looking back; I don’t think I realized what was happening at the time. I just knew that I found something that struck me hard and stopped me in my tracks; this album made me want more. I wore that album out! I wish that I knew the number of times I listened to it. I can listen to it now and feel 15 again, with all the awe and excitement of discovering a brand new world. Eisley sparked a love affair with music that led to bands like Mae. I remember hearing The Everglow and being blown away by the structure of the album; to me it was not just a list of recorded tracks, but a piece of art. My Uncle introduced me to Nickel Creek and that was the first time I heard a mandolin speak! To this day Chris Thile’s mandolin makes me weak in the knees.

When I was 16 my Dad gave me Tea for the Tillerman by Cat Stevens. This album was the first album not from my generation that I can honestly say I fell in love with. I was the kid that knew about bands from the 60s and 70s, but couldn’t tell you much about them. If a person asked me, “Do you like Pink Floyd?” my answer usually was, “Oh man, Pink Floyd is great!” I knew Pink Floyd was great because I’d been told they were great. I knew they were iconic and influential, but I hadn’t been influenced personally or experienced the greatness. This was my lame attempt at trying to be “cool”. I had a hard time relating to music if it was from before my time. I never knew why that was, but I never seemed to take the time to discover for myself what made these iconic musicians so great; that is until ‘Tillerman’. I heard it through once, then flipped back to side A and reset the needle; over and over and over. It was amazing to me that I could have such a deep connection with an album that had released so many years previously. It was wonderful that most likely there was a 16 year old girl in 1970 that put this record on and had felt the very same things I was feeling. It was that sense of community in music that grew my hunger to follow the trail of musical influences back through time. I experienced the same kind of thing again just about 2 years ago with Fleetwood Mac’s album Rumours. I listened to it from start to finish for the first time and it instantly became one of my favorite albums ever. This of course is claimed by many, but this only made the experience better. It struck me all over again that since 1977 people have been listening to this album; experiencing this album in their own unique way right along with me. This is the biggest reason why I love attaching myself to music that was before my time. It’s inspiring to me that a person or a group of people can create melodies and pen words that will carry on for years and years. This is also one of the reasons why I love vinyl records.

My first introduction to vinyl was when I was pretty young. My Mem loved Elvis and she had a few of his records in her house. I don’t really remember her ever playing them, but I can remember knowing they existed and thinking how odd it was that they were so big. [:

When I turned 16 I got my first record player and could finally play all the dusty records I had inherited from my parents. When I realized that many of the current bands I adored were releasing their albums on vinyl I was ecstatic and my collection has only grown since. My favorite place in the world is a well-stocked record store. I’ve been swept up into the digital age because of how easy it is to gain access to music you wouldn’t otherwise know existed. However my favorite way to truly experience an album is on a turntable. There is something to be said about taking the time to place the album and set the needle; the initial pops and cracks before the music starts is like a drum roll before the big reveal.
I recently heard an interview with a guy that worked at my favorite record store. He was talking about records and how they have made a comeback and he also said that records are great because they encourage community among music listeners. I have some seriously fun memories of dance parties with my roommates to Michael Jackson’s Thriller album or discussing the latest Manchester Orchestra album while cooking dinner. People hear music, but they don’t experience music.

Some would argue that I could plug my MacBook or iPod into a pair of speakers and have the very same memories. Which is true, but I think the digital age has damaged the experience of an entire album. I’ve come across so many people who buy singles, or two or three songs here and there and rarely buy complete albums. Records allow for the entire picture. Most artists put together an album track by track for a reason. It’s a cohesive story that should be heard that way. I’ve been brought to tears by everyone from John Mayer to The Civil Wars to Adele to Right Away Great Captain. I live for that stirring in my heart and the chills that run down my spine when I hear an album that moves beyond just pretty noise.

I have this dream that one day I will be able to share Room Noises, Tea for the Tillerman, Rumours, and so many more with my children or my grandchildren. I hope that the crackle and pops will mean as much to them as they do to me. I could go on forever about all the albums that have permanently stamped themselves on my heart, but this would turn into a novel. Those three albums are just a few of the ones that sang the loudest throughout my life. Maybe not for exceptional songwriting or production quality, but for the way they fell on my heart, brought me to tears and inspired me.

Thanks for sharing the history of your musical evolution Christine! I've probably said this a thousand times, but you can find more of her lovely photography and musical musings right here. (All photos in this post taken by Christine)

"The indie record shop is a global institution. It's a place that reflects history, the current state, and at times, can predict the future. Identities are formed and molded at record shops when one discovers an artist, an album, a genre, that moves them to no end. It's a venue for human contact; a social HQ for all music fans and fans of all music. Music fans, record collectors, DJs, and recording artist, now have a responsibility to keep this institution alive - more than just a mere 'shop' is at risk of extinction." - Sam Fogarino (Interpol, Magnetic Morning)

1 comment:

  1. Hi sweet lady! I found your blog via MaieDae's and am SO GLAD that I did! I love finding sisters in Christ who blog; it's like finding a diamond in the rough! I'm your newest follower. xoxo


You're so sweet (: Thanks friend!


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