My 70's iPod

This week the radio nazi is on vacation, so other co-workers have been selecting the Spotify genres, and thankfully, lowering the volume. Yesterday a bunch of songs from Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors trickled into the playlist, and it made me think back to my days as a teen in Jersey.

When you were bored, or there was nothing good on the TV, one of the things I would do to pass the time was listen to music. We had one stereo in the house, located in the front living room on a cheesy imitation wood shelving unit. The stereo was on the bottom shelf above a set of doors which held the headphones, various cassette tapes, and the boxes of 45’s. The top shelves of the unit were filled with albums, some my mom’s, but most belonged to me and my sisters.

I could sit for hours listening to album after album with our giant 70’s headphones encircling my head. You would commit the album jacket to memory while the music played, and if lyrics were included, all the better. But it could be tedious as well. Folks who have never had the privilege of listening to music on a vinyl album don’t appreciate the effort it could take just to listen to music. Everyone is so accustomed to the instant gratification the iPod offers – When you’re not in the mood for a particular song, you simply hit a button.

When the need to skip a song arose with an album, you had to carefully pick up the needle and move it to the correct spot to cue up the next song. You could see variations in the grooves between songs so finding the next tune wasn’t that tedious – not like trying to fast forward on a cassette tape. Now that was a pain in the ass. In any case it could be labor intensive back in the day to get a varietal mix of music you liked (how do you think the idea for the mixed tape was born?)

This was why the perfect album was so magical – an album where every single song was good. You were guaranteed an hour of music where the most work you had to do was flip the album over to the other side. The rest of the time you laid back, closed you eyes and got lost in the music. It also made you feel like “damn, I got my money’s worth out of this one.” I can’t tell you how many times I purchased an album for a song I liked only to find that the rest of the album sucked.

I am going to list a few of my perfect albums from my youth.

Bruce Springsteen's Masterpiece

Born to Run
Did I mention I’m from Jersey? Yes, I was a huge Springsteen fan, but regardless of where you are from, it’s hard to deny that this album kicks ass from start to finish. Only 8 songs long, but each and every one is a gem. I do believe I have every word, nuance and grunt on this album committed to memory.


Fleetwood Mac Hits a Homer

This was my sister’s album (I don’t recall whose), but after it played a few times, it became part of my permanent “go to” collection. What a great fucking album. The only song I might skip, was Songbird by Christie McVie because it was a little too melancholy for me. What made the album great besides the songs, was the variety of singers. It was a great mix up of Buckingham, McVie and Nicks either solo or all together. I also remember their album sleeve had a collage candid photo of the band members in various situations. You could stare at that for hours while you sang along…

America's Greatest Hits

History – America’s Greatest Hits
Ok, ok, I know I shouldn’t be allowed to include greatest hits albums, but I was a kid and I didn’t realize that there had ever been any other albums by America. This album belonged to my oldest sister and she would play it frequently. As I became familiar with all the songs, I too began to listen to it during my stereo time. I know songs like “Muskrat Love” are lame beyond belief, but I was only in the 6th grade then. Besides, it’s my least favorite on the whole album, and I’m pretty sure most people hate it more because of the ridiculous version the Captain & Tennille put out.

Billy Joel's entrance into my life

The Stranger
Again, my sister’s album. Fuck, she had good taste in music! This album introduced me to Master Joel and I would listen to it often. I loved that Anthony’s song had the lyrics “who needs a house out in Hackensack” because Hackensack was two towns away from us, and I thought that was cool. And Scenes from an Italian Restaurant was like a mini operetta with a story that you could imagine in your head as the music played.

Awesome Introduction to Carly

The Best of Carly Simon
Ok, here I go again with a best of album! Well tough titties. I loved this album! Every song is an AM Radio classic (except for Attitude Dancing, which sort of blows). Once our album began to skip from overuse we bought the cassette tape and even now I own the CD.



This Time Around
Right now, I’m sure a bunch of you are like, “wha? Never heard of it.” That’s because it’s a Hanson album. Yes, that’s right Hanson…those little boys that looked like girls. Well, let me tell you, they grew up by the time this album came out and they could bring it. I got turned onto them by my nieces Megs and Erin who played it incessantly during a family vacation in Florida. By the end of the two weeks we were all online buying tickets to a Hanson concert in Richmond. After the show a few months later I had a cougar crush on Taylor and would listen to their CD at least twice a week. They wrote the songs themselves and can actually play their instruments and play them well. In these days of Bieberesque auto tuned music, I say they deserve way more credit than they get. And fuck it. I love Mmmbop too.

So, if I ever got stranded on a desert island, I’d want these songs with me. With a stereo that has a new needle. And speakers. And electricity.