People who know me are still usually surprised to find the cornucopia of eclectic music that is on my i-pod.   I have easily several thousand songs, although I’ve lost count with continuous additions over the past few years.  I made sure that my children were exposed to all types of music in their early years as we would go on our many trips across Europe and even in the states, and I’m glad to see that they have picked up on my eclectic tastes in music.  My love of music even resulted in the middle name of my youngest daughter, Elise, which is from the title of one of Beethoven’s short compositions, “Für Elise.” I grew up with music in my house.  My parents both played piano and would sing sometimes during the day or in the car simply because they loved singing.  And as a family, we occasionally sang on long trips to pass the time.  So, I caught the love of music early.  When I first became aware of my love of music, it was from listening to pop songs being played on the AM radio at the time in the 60’s.  But the first recording of a song I ever purchased was Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock.” 

I purchased it at a little mom-and-pop music store next to the radio station where my father would go to do a weekly religious segment on the local AM station in Douglasville, Georgia (U.S.A.), where I grew up. It was released, as all singles at the time were released, on a 7-inch vinyl (plastic) disc in which the song was cut in modulated circular grooves on the face of the disc.  For those of you who were born after that era of vinyl, the sound was captured in physical form by these modulated grooves cut on the face of the disc as opposed to the digital capture and transfer now used for songs.  The modulation or variation of the groove would reproduce the sound once you placed the disc on a spinning turntable and placed a needle into the groove to translate that sound back to an amplifier.  The groove was cut in concentric circles in a continuous line that started on the edge of the disc and ended near the small center hole.  So you would place the record on the turn-table, which was spinning at 45 rates per minute for these small records, and you would swing the arm holding the needle over to the outermost groove, setting the needle down carefully in the groove so as not to make a cross-scratch that would cause skipping. 

Then the needle would ride the line of the groove ending near the center of the disc, while reproducing the sounds of your favorite singer or band.  There was usually a “B-side” song on the other side of the disc if you flipped it over, with a less popular song by the artist being paired up with the hit single, but the song on each side was always between 3 and 4 minutes.  This was, therefore, the time standard that all musicians had to abide by for a song, and it was what most radio stations expected if you wanted them to play your recordings.  There was also a larger disc, called a 78 for the rates per minute speed that it had to be played.  Normally, a phonograph player would have a switch to change the turntable speed from 45 to 78 and vice versa.  Also, the center hole on a 78 disc was much smaller, so you might have an adaptor to place on the center spindle in order to play the smaller 45 which had a larger center hole.   Musicians could produce longer songs or several songs in succession on the 78, but those might not get the airplay and might not sell as well as the more popular 45 singles.  However, many bands would release the singles first to generate buzz about their music, and then would release a 78 a little later with the rest of the songs they had recorded for that album.  This process was intended to produce the maximum number of sales. 

In addition to Elton John, Karen Carpenter was one of the first musicians that I truly loved.  Her rich, smooth voice was enchanting to a young boy, even resulting in my fantasies of marrying her.  I subsequently bought a few 45s and albums by the Carpenters.   I also listened to the Jackson 5, the Spinners, the Stylistics, James Brown, the Allman Brothers, and Lynyrd Skynyrd early on.  My sisters were listening to Donnie Osmond and mooning over him and the other clean-cut Osmond boys, as well as Bobby Sherman, who had a very short 15 minutes of fame, and David Cassidy from The Partridge Family show.  At the time, one of the UHF radio stations in Atlanta that we could pick up on our television on the weekends would play various songs that I and my sisters liked while showing dancers under psychedelic lights.  It was “groovy” man.  We would also watch American Bandstand with Dick Clark every Saturday, and I always liked to catch Soul Train as well as James Brown who was being broadcast on one of the Atlanta UHF stations on Saturday night at the time. 


I pray that you will all experience the joy of music today.  It is truly a gift from God. 

 


Comments

Mc Neese
01/12/2013 11:54am

I remember waking up my first morning in Germany, and you were already up and playing your records. The song playing was "Vienna" by Billy Joel. Every time I have beard it since, I am reminded of that morning. To this day it is one of my favorite songs.

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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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